Book: Frameshift

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Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction

Pierre Tardivel is a scientist working on the Human Genome Project with the Nobel Prize winner Dr. Burian Klimus. A driven man, Pierre works with the awareness that he may not have long to live: he has a fifty-fifty chance of dying from Huntington’s disease, an incurable hereditary disorder of the central nervous system. While he still has his health, Pierre and his wife decide to have a child, and they search for a sperm donor. When Pierre informs Dr. Klimus of their plan, Klimus makes an odd but generous offer: to be the sperm donor as well as to pay for the expensive in vitro fertilization. Shortly thereafter it transpires that Klimus may be hiding a grim past: he may be Ivan Marchenko, the notorious Treblinka death-camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

While digging into Klimus’s past with the help of Nazi hunter Avi Meyer, Pierre and his wife discover that Pierre’s insurance company has been illegally screening clients for genetic defects. The two lines of investigation begin to converge in a sinister manner, while they worry about the possibility of bearing the child of an evil, sadistic killer…


There is a 50 percent chance that geneticist Pierre Tardivel is carrying the gene for Huntington’s Disease, a fatal disorder. That knowledge drives Pierre in his work on the Human Genome Project, an attempt by scientists to map human genes. But a strange set of circumstances—including a knife attack, the in vitro fertilization of his wife, and an insurance company plot to use DNA samples to weed out clients predisposed to early deaths—draw Tardivel into a story that will ultimately involve the hunt for a Nazi death camp doctor. Frameshift shows why the New York Times calls Robert J. Sawyer “a writer of boundless confidence.”

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