Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 71

My dad recommended Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell to me. Not only that, he sent it to me. I was skeptical. My dad's tastes run more towards Louis L'Amour then, say, Augusten Burroughs or Michael Chabon. But it's hard to be choosy when you're thirty books short of your goal with less than three months to finish, so I picked it up a couple days ago and gave it a shot.

Here's the book jacket description:

"Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan's worst hospital. He has 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 launch a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.
"Pietro 'Bearclaw' Brnwa is a hit man for the mob, with a genius for violence, a well-earned fear of sharks, and an overly close relationship with the Witness Protection 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 Jimmy 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."

Don't you just love book jacket descriptions? I remained skeptical. It seemed like Beat the Reaper would be just another former-Mob-guy-on-the-run trashy novel, only set in a hospital. Quick and easy, but nothing special.

Sorry, Dad. I shouldn't have doubted you. This book was. Off. The. Chain! For one thing, there are footnotes. Hilarious footnotes. And Peter's voice is over the top, for sure, but completely believable as the hardened doctor trying to do the right thing but save his ass at the same time. The action flips back and forth from the present-day hospital to snapshots of Peter's past (I won't give it away...), which really helped keep me engaged. It's action-packed, to be sure. Some violence takes place within the first, oh, two pages, and it's compelling and funny a little gross, but voyeuristic. And did I mention the footnotes?

Shit gets real around the last ten pages. I've read lots of books that have made my lady parts tense up for one reason or another. But no lie, I was in the fetal position, cringing, while I read the big finale. I could see it. I could feel it. And it wasn't pretty. But it was awesome.

Moral of the story? Listen to your dad.

Beat the Reaper - A


Viejo Fuerte said...

Thanks, Beeb.

Jennifer said...

Can I borrow it?

Drew Dubz said...

Absolute keeper and reads like a piece of noir cinema.

Its like Palahniuk directed verbally by Scorsese.

Good call Helga, naive of her father :- )

I have an extra copy if anyone needs it -- DDubz