Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell (28 February — 1 March)

Hee. This book was awesome. I’m not sure if it was just so much more awesome coming off of a book I didn’t like or if it’s actually as awesome as I thought it was, but either way it’s a quick and thoroughly entertaining read.

Our protagonist, Peter Brown, is a doctor at a crap hospital in Manhattan. He’s checking out a patient with cancer when he realizes — too late — that the patient is someone he knows from a past life. One that’s been covered over by the Witness Protection Program. The patient, Eddy Squillante, quickly realizing the leverage he has, orders a hit on Brown if Squillante isn’t alive by the end of the day. Inconveniently, the cancer he has is pretty much guaranteed to kill him, especially with the surgeon that’s come in to operate. Brown now has to “beat the reaper” and keep Squillante alive so as not to have to find a new life as a gas station attendant out west.

The book cuts back and forth between Brown’s current and previous lives, telling us how and why he got where he is, and it’s all done in a very conversational style that makes it feel like you’re really watching the action. Bazell also inserts witty footnotes (!) that let you learn possibly more than you ever wanted to know about medicine, the mob, pubic hair… it’s wonderful.

I didn’t quite appreciate the ending, though. The book ended right before I wanted it to, which was irksome, but I do like that he didn’t overwork the ending, so it ends up on the plus side.

Rating: 9/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2009, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

One thought on “Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell (28 February — 1 March)

  1. raidergirl3 says:

    I loved this book too! I think it caught me off guard because I wasn't expecting such humor, right on the first page when he got attacked. This was a hoot, and I haven't seen many other reviews from bloggers who have read it. Probably not for everyone, but funny and quirky and disturbed.

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