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Beat the Reaper: A Novel (Package May Vary) Paperback – Unabridged, September 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Crackling dialogue and rich characters distinguish Bazell's debut thriller. Dr. Peter Brown is living a double life and one of his patients may have uncovered the doctor's secret. Brown was formerly Pietro Brnwa, a vicious mob hit man who would be the last person you want to see in your hospital room. Robert Petkoff delivers a solid performance as both Brown and Brnwa, distinct and well-crafted personalities whose flaws, needs and desires somehow coexist in this mystery. Bazell's writing is raw and endlessly witty, a combination that isn't always realistic, but with Petkoff behind the microphone it's a great ride. A Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 27). (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Beat the Reaper, a criminal and medical thriller, received praise across the board. Written in a tough pulp-fiction style, this debut, with "enough male fantasy packed into these pages to temporarily relieve the worst case of mid-life crisis," noted the Washington Post, won't fail to entertain. But despite its quirkiness and brutality, it contains surprisingly thoughtful scenes. Beat the Reaper also addresses real—and serious—issues that both doctors and hospitals face. A few critics commented on the ludicrous love scenes and disagreed over whether the footnotes added value, but all commented on the ending (imagine a locked medical freezer—we won't say more). But since this is the first novel in a planned series, we're pretty sure the adored protagonist survives.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It has the anti-hero theme so common these days and you'll have a tough time deciding whether to love or hate this character, but either way you'll be interested in him. It has some unrealistic scenes for sure but it doesn't distract from the overall story much. You'll learn a few things here and there as well, delivered in a very unique fashion.
Overall I have a hard time finding an author to compare this work to, which I suppose is a compliment in itself. If you like dark gritty humor and have a strong stomach give it a shot.
This book is a heart thumping, testosterone-laden action flick in book form. The pages turn themselves, from one scene to the next, skipping through violent confrontations, gruff and melancholy recollections, and medical arcana at breakneck speed. When you start this book, strap your seatbelt on, hold the coffee (because the book will amp you up plenty) and get ready for a great story.
The protagonist is a doctor - a medical intern to be exact. His morning starts off at 5a getting mugged while walking to work and absently regarding a pidgeon and rat fighting on a Manhattan sidewalk. His day gets worse yet more exciting (I know! hard to believe!) and before the chapter's end, you find yourself wondering what is this character - doctor? thug? superhero?
The answer is (spoiler alert! but not too much of one; you figure out the thug part soon enough) that he is all three. The curiousity is HOW he has become all three and that is where the story is pretty genius. All I have to say is that this book is guaranteed to be turned into a movie and I bet the movie will be awesome.
Caveat: this book is not for people who like chick lit. Consider yourself warned. Ha.
"Beat the Reaper" is a fast-paced, decently written, character driven, darkly humorous thriller. The worst thing I can say about it is that it will undoubtedly be made into a very average film, and that will be a disservice. However, in spite of the cinematic elements of the text, this novel does not read like a script treatment, but is rather a full fledged story, with a very interesting and nicely developed main character. The major strength of this text in fact is the first person voice of the book's protagonist, Dr. Peter Brown. The whole novel is told from his first person point of view and goes from the present to the past with ease, and Josh Bazell does a nice job of creating gaps for the reader that pique their interest and then slowly are filled in as more of Dr. Brown's story is revealed.
As the main character is a doctor, and a former hit man, he has extensive arcane knowledge; which is shared with the reader via footnotes that appear throughout the text. I liked this stylistic device, as it works for the protagonists' medical profession, and because often times the footnotes were clever and interesting. Other readers have complained that there are many unrealistic elements to the story, and there indeed are. But the strength of Bazell's writing is that these ridiculous elements seem to work in the world he has created for "Beat the Reaper".
This novel is the first in a planned trilogy, and I intend to continue the journey.
Approach "Beat the Reaper" for what it is, and you will have a good time.