What happens when a group of scientists take creation into their own hands? 'Ao Toa' is that rare novel -- an eco-thriller combining action and suspense with deep emotions and the sensual power of the natural world. It is peopled with believable women and men, teenagers and elders, suits and activists, farmers and gardeners. As they grapple with concerns ranging from sick children and indigenous medicines to toxic sprays and genetic engineering, they encounter the realities of corruption, politics and power. Fired with her passion for life, food and challenge, Cowrie and her friends take on multinational corporations and government over the issue of genetically modified crops. Blending Maori tradition with feminist insight, the novel explores ways of right living. The richly realised texture of daily life expresses fundamental conflicts over food security, the care of the environment and the morality of science. The writing is irreverent, funny and fresh, catching the authentic tone and flavour of today's global debates as they play out at a local level.