Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Making a hit man turned medical intern a sympathetic figure would be a tall order for most authors, but first-time novelist Bazell makes it look easy in this breezy and darkly comic suspense novel. The Locanos, a mob family, take in 14-year-old Pietro Brwna (pronounced 'Browna') after a couple of thugs gun down the grandparents who raised him in their New Jersey home. Bent on revenge, Pietro pursues the killers and executes them a year later. Impressed by Pietro's performance, David Locano recruits Pietro as a hit man. After more traumas, Pietro tries to make a break from his past by entering the witness protection program. Now known as Peter Brown, he eventually lands a position as a doctor at a decrepit Manhattan hospital, where by chance a former Mafia associate turns up as a patient and threatens to rat him out. The hero's wry narrative voice, coupled with Bazell's artful use of flashbacks to sustain tension and fill in Pietro's past, are a winning combination." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A wildly funny mashup between genres that makes ER and St. Elsewhere look tame." Kirkus Reviews
"Who would have thought that extreme violence liberally sprinkled with obscenities could be both funny and tender?...A remarkably accomplished debut." Booklist
"A propulsive, savvy read featuring characters both well shaded and shady....You can prescribe this to fans of Carl Hiaasen and quirky abrasive fiction..." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Bazell...more than earned my indulgence as a reader. If there's a better recommendation for a story than that, I don't know what it is." Matt Ruff, New York Times
"Fast, fun, furious, fierce...or better yet, stop reading the accolades for Beat the Reaper, open up to page one, and start reading. See you at the cash register." Harlan Coben
"Beat the Reaper is a blast. Josh Bazell blew me away with this story that is as relentless as a bullet." Michael Connelly
"Beat the Reaper
is a hypochondriac's nightmare but a reader's dream. Josh Bazell concocted this comic thriller while working as a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and if anything he describes here is true, we should all become Christian Scientists. After I gulped down the doctor's story, my pulse was racing so fast I didn't know whether to recommend his outrageous first novel or sue for malpractice." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
Making a hit-man-turned-medical-intern a sympathetic figure would be a tall order for most authors, but first-time novelist Bazell does just that in this breezy and darkly comic suspense novel.
Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient — and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a whole lot weirder.
Because that patient knows Peter from his other life, when he had a different name and a very different job. The only reason he's a doctor now is thanks to the Witness Protection Program — and even they can't protect him from the long reach of the New Jersey mob. Now he's got to do whatever it takes to keep his patient alive so he can buy some time...and beat the reaper.
About the Author
Josh Bazell has a BA in writing from Brown University and an MD from Columbia University. He is currently a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and is working on his second novel.