Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Beat the Reaper (hardcover, $24.99), by Josh Bazell

Peter Brown is a doctor. He is clever. He isn't in awe of the institution of medicine. He gets things done.

The only thing is … he isn't really Peter Brown. Medicine is his second career. His first was as a hit man for the mob. He testified against the New Jersey mob and now has gone into hiding through a Witness Protection program. You could say he has gone from taking bodies apart to putting them together again.

All is well until a patient recognizes him. If he dies, he says, word will get back to the mob and the day of reckoning will arrive for Peter. Then the mob guy dies, through no fault of Peter's, but because the mob guy had chosen his surgeon unwisely.

That's the premise in a nutshell.

What is harder to convey is how quirky, stylish, and fun this book is. It's also tough, thoughtful, and charming at the same time. It's not all craziness and action, which is what it appears to be at the start, because author Bazell touches on the human core of his protagonist's heart. I can hardly wait until it's available in paperback, because this book is getting my star (for an MBTB favorite).

Beat the Reaper
first showed up on my horizon at the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) fair when the publishing company rep said everyone at the company who read it couldn't put it down. So I read it … and couldn't put it down.

Did I mention he has footnotes? Funny footnotes for fictional fare? Bazell doesn't follow the rules and it is to the reader's benefit.

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