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At what stage does human life actually begin? Where does "right" reside when state-run religion and medical science collide? In the clashing rocks of faith and human desire, will it be courage or blind devotion to duty that prevails, and can love chart a course between them?
These are a few of the bold themes raised in Kira Peikoff's thought-provoking new thriller, Living Proof, set in the all-too-foreseeable future where the government controls all pregnancies and fertilizations in the ideological battleground between state-enforced values and scientific advancement. Dr. Arianna Drake runs a Manhattan fertilization clinic, but she also harbors a dangerous secret: she suffers from an advancing case of multiple sclerosis, and in conjunction with a brilliant researcher, once a colleague of her scientist parents, Arianna has set up a clandestine, underground lab using outlawed stem cells to find a cure to her disease. But if the state discovers her, she and her coconspirators will be imprisoned for life and her potentially lifesaving research shut down.
Trent Rowe is an agent for the state's Department of Embryo Preservation: devout, ambitious, and, at the same time, searching for true meaning in his religiously dominated life. His fervent Catholic upbringing made him a willing soldier in the war against sacrificing embryos, cloning, and "baby killing." Trent's fanatical boss, Gideon Dopp, suspects Arianna's operation and gives Trent the assignment of getting close to her and exposing her illegal activities. Activities that, if successful, could heal vast numbers of people stricken with her disease.
What takes place is virtually a tug-of-war between devotion and conscience for Trent's unsettled soul—the combatants being his Jauvert-like boss, who hunts Arianna with single-minded zeal; the intense pushing of Trent's religiously driven family for advancement in his career; Trent's growing attraction to Arianna, which threaten his convictions; and his slowly evolving belief that what she and her colleagues are doing is, in truth, not evil at all, but in fact creating a greater good. Arianna's increasing trust in Trent puts her at odds with her lab-mates who are risking everything, worried that any slip in security could cost them their lives.
Peikoff may be a first-time novelist, but she is totally adept at keeping things moving and never polemical, and always balancing the personal, human drama with the science of stem-cell technology and the clock-ticking machinations of the state. Arianna and Trent's delicately evolving love story becomes the battleground of the novel's moral conflict, as Trent faces the Antigone-like choice of either betraying the state and the moral code that has raised him, or the person he has grown to love. Peikoff shows a sophisticated touch in balancing the science and the countdown to potential disaster with the drama of rising human feelings that is the true engine of the book.
If, like me, you like your thrillers deeply human and always rising in consequence and what's at stake, Living Proof is one for you: page-turning, intellectually stimulating, emotionally satisfying. In this battle between courage and blind duty, it's worth finding out which wins out in the end.
Enjoyed this book and thought I had a suspicious character figured out early in the book. Made for some interesting reading and some twists that I did not expect. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Marla V.
Great first book from this young, knowledgeable writer.Published 8 months ago by Bryan C. Greifinger
Strong characters who follow their convictions for good or ill. For those who love a good plot and rational insights.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
I didn't really like the whole premise of this book at all.Published 13 months ago by Connie Falcon
A very interesting book but also scary given how close the story is to becoming reality. If it does nothing else than make people think a bit, this book will have served its... Read morePublished 18 months ago by pilotamlan
The twists and turns, ups and downs, suspense and action, kept me edging farther and farther towards the edge of my seat as the pages nearly turned themselves. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Erik
This novel is interesting, well-written, and timely. However, it was neither intellectually nor emotionally exciting. However,I do look forward to this author's future work.Published 19 months ago by Donna K. Becker
This book is tremendously well-written from a technical standpoint. The author has an astonishingly smooth style and a flare for suspence and plot. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Joseph McHugh
This is an exceptional first novel by Ms Peikoff that was extremely gripping and hard to put down.
The novel brings out concretely the immense harm to human life caused... Read more