Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Beat the Reaper

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.

Spattered in adrenaline-fueled action and bone-saw-sharp dialogue, BEAT THE REAPER is a debut thriller so utterly original you won't be able to guess what happens next, and so shockingly entertaining you won't be able to put it down. -- Little, Brown & Company

After reading some pre-publicity hype, I desperately wanted to read BEAT THE REAPER by Josh Bazell! I loved this book and devoured it in a day, but I have kind of been procrastinating with writing the review. First, I've seen so many wonderful reviews out there from "real" reviewers; and secondly, I am afraid that my review won't do this book justice.

BEAT THE REAPER is a very special book. It has been selected as a #1 Indie Next List Great Read for January 2009; and I can't even count how many terrific reviews I've read in the past few weeks. It's kind of hard to classify what type of book BEAT THE REAPER is, but I'd have to say that it is a suspense thriller as well as a comedy. It's full of action and even some intrigue; however, I most enjoyed how much I laughed (and was shocked) while reading this novel.

I found the main character of Dr. Peter Brown to be fascinating on so many levels. I've read quite a few stories where the characters were mob hit men who turn government witnesses; however, this is positively the first one where the hit man becomes a doctor. Peter goes to medical school and decides to help people as a sort of penance for killing so many in his past life. I enjoyed how the story was told using flashbacks into Peter's childhood and prior mob life because it gave the reader insight into his character. I also appreciated seeing how conflicted Peter was throughout the various times in his life.

While I absolutely loved BEAT THE REAPER, it's definitely not a book for everyone. There is a fair amount of "bad words" and loads of violence (after all, it is a book about the mob.) And, there are a lot of scenes that won't sit well with readers who are easily offended. I don't consider myself someone who gets squeamish while reading; however, the scene at the end of this novel absolutely shocked me! I felt my stomach churning and it was so weird because I was grossed out yet at the same time I couldn't put the book down. Needless to say, it's a scene that I don't think I'll ever forget!

BEAT THE REAPER is Josh Bazell's first novel; and it's a wonderful debut. Josh Bazell is a resident in psychiatry; and it's evident in this book that he has a medical background. While some of the hospital scenes terrified me (and I hope they aren't based on reality), there were also some informative medical tidbits thrown in. I don't know how he did it, but he actually wrote this novel while completing his medical internship. When asked in an interview on the Today Show about this very subject, he deadpanned that he has "no life whatsoever." He mentioned that he is working on his second novel, and I can't wait to read it! You can see the entire interview here.

There is a terrific and entertaining website devoted to BEAT THE REAPER. Once you are there, you can learn more about author Josh Bazell, play a medical game, watch a video, and even read an excerpt. You can also listen to an excerpt from the novel here.

If you enjoy thrillers and especially mob thrillers, you have to check out BEAT THE REAPER. I know my review just touched the surface of how much I liked this book, so I'd love to hear your thoughts about it if you've read it (or plan on reading it.)

A huge thanks goes out to Miriam from Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy of this book (after I shamelessly begged for it.)


bermudaonion said...

Great review! I agree on the last scene in the book - I was literally reading it between my fingers. It was hard to take but I had to read it. I loved this book too!

bookfool said...

Wow--your review was terrific! I don't know why you'd be reluctant to ever write a review, I always think of your blog as one of the "real" reviewers blogs that I enjoy!

I really liked the book as well, sort of an ewwww.....factor here and there, but it'll make a good movie. (Which I probably won't see, because I don't mind ewwww......books, but I don't like ewww......movies much!)

Beth F said...

Good review! I'll have to put it on my list.

Marta said...

What a great review! This one is on my pile to's now moving up!

S. Krishna said...

After all these positive reviews, I really want to read this book!

Anna said...

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this one, but your review makes me want to get my hands on a copy right now! You've got me curious about the ending scene!

Diary of an Eccentric

Lambchop said...

This comment is two years too late lol! But for those who haven't read this, it's really good. And it's not too late!