From Publishers Weekly
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 Pietros 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 Bazells artful use of flashbacks to sustain tension and fill in Pietro's past, are a winning combination. (Jan.)
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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.
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