Monday, October 27, 2014

Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell

Beat The Reaper by Josh Bazell
Published January 2009 by Little, Brown, and Company
Source: my audio copy of the book was purchased at my local library book sale

Publisher's Summary:
Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan's worst hospital, with a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he'd prefer to keep hidden. Whether it's a blocked circumflex artery or a plan to land a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwna is a hitman for the mob, with a genius for violence, a well-earned fear of sharks, and an overly close relationship with the Federal Witness Relocation Program. More likely to leave a trail of dead gangsters than a molecule of evidence, he's the last person you want to see in your hospital room.

Nicholas LoBrutto, aka Eddy Squillante, is Dr. Brown's new patient, with three months to live and a very strange idea: that Peter Brown and Pietro Brnwa might-just might-be the same person ...

Now, with the mob, the government, and death itself descending on the hospital, Peter has to buy time and do whatever it takes to keep his patients, himself, and his last shot at redemption alive. To get through the next eight hours-and somehow beat the reaper.

My Thoughts:
First off, as you might expect with a book about a reformed mob hit man, there is a lot of violence in this book, of a very graphic and sometimes gruesome nature. To the point where I had to fast forward past a key scene in the book when I wised up to what was about to happen because there was no way I could listen to it.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this book; so very different from anything I've read before.  When it came out, this book got rave reviews from so many bloggers that I respect. But I never was quite sure I would pick it up. I even passed it up twice at the book sale. How could I have doubted Jill, Jill, or
Diane? Beat The Reaper is darkly funny, wickedly smart, and will have you rethinking some things you thought you knew. You may also never want to visit a hospital again.

Peter Brown is a man in need of constant chemical stimulation to keep going and the writing goes at the same pace. As Brown makes his way through a typical (well, right up to the point where Squillante makes an appearance and things get even more tense) day, he shares his history as Peitro Brnwna. Pietro was abandoned by his parent and raised by his grandparents who befriended the family of a mob lawyer as a way to get in with the mob so he could find the people who killed his grandparents. Turns out, killing was a thing he was good at and the mob was glad to have him...until. Brown may be living a new life now but he hasn't lost his edge and his pessimistic, sarcastic outlook on life.

I was really impressed by Bazell's knowledge for medicine, anatomy, and the inner workings of a hospital. Then I read that Bazell wrote this book during the end of medical school and the beginning of his residency. Because, apparently, that wasn't time consuming enough. By the way, he also has a degree in writing. Which explains why a writer can write so convincingly about medicine and a doctor can write so well. Now how to explain how he could write so convincingly about the mob!


  1. Well I don't know if I could have *listened* to it, with all that bad language! But it sure was entertaining to read! LOL

  2. I'm with you -- it really does sound very different from anything I've read. Putting it on my list.

    I'm currently reading The Pecan Man. So far I like it a lot.

  3. I read this one when it first came out and really liked it, but there were definitely some scenes I read with one closed and grimacing while I skimmed past the worst of the gore.

  4. This sounds completely different from anything I've ever read but definitely an interesting read! Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard of this but I'll be checking this one out.

  5. I've heard such wonderful things about this book. I think I mentioned before that it was one of the books I sacrificed in my list book culling project. I may still go back and read it at some point. Check it out from the library or something.

  6. I got this when it first came out, and I wanted to go back and read my review after reading yours, and I realized I never finished the book, I gave up on it.