Robert Begam's Long Life? explores the world of cryonics
Engaging courtroom thriller wrestles with issues of science, religion, ethics and the law
In Long Life?, a young, beautiful M.D. faces the death penalty.
The jury must decide only one question: Is the victim dead?

When cryonics expert Dr. Rebecca Adler agrees to freeze the body of a virile, 34-year-old AIDS patient, she sets off a controversy that cuts across science, religion, ethics and the law. Her case serves as the touchstone and focal point for Phoenix attorney Robert Begam’s second novel, a courtroom thriller called Long Life?.

To help her patient, a physicist who has contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, Adler performs a “pre-mortem” suspension, putting the patient into a cryonic state before he has been declared legally dead. The physicist requests the procedure to protect his body from the ravages of AIDS. He is convinced that, after a cure is found, he will be reanimated to live a rich, full life. The Maricopa County attorney’s office sees the matter differently. Chief prosecutor Scott Novak files first-degree murder charges and seeks the death penalty for Adler, and a fascinating novel is off and running.

Adler and her cryonics institute, the for-profit Omega Terrace of North Scottsdale, Ariz., engage famed New York trial lawyer Joe Purcell to represent her. He hesitates to get involved in what appears to be a lost cause. Finally he agrees because, as he says, "This will be the first murder case in which there is only one issue: Is the victim dead?"

When Novak and Purcell square off, they're at the top of their game. From jury selection to final arguments, readers are taken through a fascinating case that sees a parade of witnesses from scientists to doctors to politicians and ministers. One other question lingers throughout the book: Will Purcell and his beautiful, passionate client keep their professional distance or yield to the attraction they feel for one another?

Long Life? is populated by a collection of colorful, sometimes comical characters, including Purcell's seasoned, wily partner, Max Aranow; no-nonsense Judge Ira Fox; the judge's indiscreet assistant, Molly McCall; and bungling assistant prosecutor Jerry Newman. The book tackles serious issues, but it's a well-written, fast-paced page turner that will keep you riveted to your seat, right through to its surprise ending.

Long Life? is published by Durban House Press, Inc., of Dallas, Texas. Buy your copy today by clicking on the Long Life? icon at right.