Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

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.

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 wonderful and benevolent mean and sharkly Janet ReidBeat the Reaper has just about anything I could ask for.  The writing is fantastic.  Peter's voice, from page one had me captivated - he's funny, sarcastic, and enthralling - especially in his footnotes, which are brilliant.

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.

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Alyce said...

Great review of this book! The kind of harshness to the story, the bluntness, is not something that would normally appeal to me, but I loved this book!

I have no idea where I first heard of the term "Defenestration" but I read it in some novel when I was younger and was fascinated that there was actually a specific term for jumping out a window. It stuck with me for some reason. Wish I could remember where I'd originally seen it.

Mary Gray said...

This sounds good! I had the same response to back story scenes when I read if i stay by Gayle Foreman. I actually liked the past ones better than the present. I got to read more of the romance and preferred it over the present scenes, which also took place in a hospital. Peter sounds like a has a great voice. I'll have to put this on my "to read" list.

Sarah Wylie said...

Ooh, this sounds amazing! I'll have to check it out. Also, the movie, because Leo won my heart in Titanic. And then sunk to the bottom of the freaking ocean with it (I still think he and Rose could have rotated on the board...not that I've been bitter since 1997 or anything.)

Janet Johnson said...

This does sound good! Add it to the list. My husband's in medicine, so doctor stories always interest me. (Of course, this sounds much more than just a doctor story, but you know what I mean.)

Suzette Saxton said...

The cover is definitely eye-catching...easy to spot at the bookstore, I imagine. Thanks for the review!