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.
After hearing I had to read Beat the Reaper from a friend several times (okay so it ended up being a demand), I got my hands on a copy. And once I cracked open the first page, I could not stop. The next night I was up until 2:30 reading and loving it.
In addition to the passage which talks about defenestration, a favorite threat of the
Alternating present and past chapters, I was captivated by his backstory, his family history, the involvement in the mob, and especially his love story (more on that next). The "past" chapters were my favorites. The characterization and the backstory feels thrilling (even more so than some of the present hospital scenes), it’s that I-cannot-stop-reading-about-this-guy’s-life, which I think is pretty hard to do. But the way the backstory unfolds, and the way it’s paced – perfect.
I love love love the heartbreaking love story aspect of Beat the Reaper. It’s just this love story that’s so romantic yet so unconventional – one of those things that if some random person just tried to explain it, it wouldn’t sound romantic at all, yet getting the story from Peter's voice and the way he explains it - again, it’s perfect.
Josh Bazell's debut is fabulous. I am breathlessly awaiting the follow up - or the movie which is supposed to include Leonardo DiCaprio - whichever comes first.