Beat The Reaper

I have forgotten how I heard about this book. But I picked it up on clearance ($5 for a hardback) and was going to pick it for book club, but decided to pick Defendant Jacob instead. I think I read Beat The Reaper in three days.

It’s the story of Pietro Brnwa. Peter grew up with his grandparents (his parents were not interested in raising him) until he comes home one day to find them murdered. He thinks that they survived Auschwitz. Being from New Jersey, he assumes that their seemingly random murder was actually a mafia initiation. So naturally, at 14, he goes to a private school, known to educate the children of mafioso and befriends one.

Peter finds out who killed his grandparents, thanks to his friend Skinflick’s dad. He then becomes a hitman for the mob. But you don’t learn this until later. The story starts with Dr. Peter Brown walking to Manhattan Catholic Hospital where he is a resident. There is an attempted mugging and he takes the mugger down. We find out that Peter is in the Witness Protection Program. The chaos ensues when a mobster he knows sees him in the hospital.

For the most part, I loved this book. It was suspenseful. It was funny. The story was well-told. Some of the language was a bit rough (which says a lot coming from me) and some of the scenarios were a bit adult. That being said, I liked the book and the story.

The author, Josh Bazell, is a doctor. And during the course of the book he throws out a lot of medical lingo, but always explains using humorous footnotes. He discusses not only mob life, but the current state of health care in this country. If half what he said really happens in hospitals, then I never want to go.

The story telling is as fast-paced as a shift at a busy New York hospital. I liked this book well enough to consider picking up the next one in the series. If you don’t mind adult situations and language, then I recommend this book.


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