Beat the Reaper is to die for. This is a smart, funny, original, thriller. Josh Bazell is an excellent writer. His first thriller, Beat the Reaper features a really interesting character, Peter Brown / Pietro Brnwa, and a twisted sense of humor that really ads to the novel and makes it stand out. This is a first edition I am putting in the investment fund.
Bazell is an M.D. with a creative writing degree. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan Catholic Hospital, a place where the care makes an HMO look generous. The first thing Peter Brown does in Beat the Reaper is create a patient for the hospital when someone tries to mug him. He will give a lot more business to the hospital by the time this very original story is done.
Brown is in the Witness Protection Program after being a hit man for the mob; a past that is gradually revealed as the novel progresses. The one patient Brown must keep alive is Eddy Squillante, a made guy whose silence is only guaranteed as long as he is alive. Squillante has a nasty form of cancer so you know the truth about Pietro Brnwa will soon come out and the mob will come after him
Josh Bazell adroitly balances flashback and current information while moving the story forward at a very quick pace. There is something quite refreshing in the laidback conversational, direct tone of Beat the Reaper and this also adds to the general interest of this mystery.
Also quite fun and interesting are the many footnotes asides. These really add to the comic tone of this excellent thriller.
Beat the Reaper is one hell of a good read. I sincerely hope there are more Peter Brown novels in the making. I am very much looking forward to the next one.