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on March 3, 2009
"Beat the Reaper" is about hitman for the mob named Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwa. It is also about Dr. Peter Brown, an overworked intern working at Manhattan Catholic hospital. Through the use of vivid flashbacks, readers learn that Peter is also Pietro, and his past ridden with a trail of murders and tragedy is finally catching up to him. Having been recruited into the mob by a close friend's father many years ago, he must now face the consequences of his actions. With the imminent threat of death upon him, he has eight hours to stay alive and 'beat the reaper'.

What I love about this book is its' originality. I was drawn to the unique storyline and especially the interesting characters, even though it all seemed a bit crazy. The writing style is engaging and direct, which is why I was a little confused by the seemingly random footnotes included throughout the book, which I don't think contributed much to the story.

There is a fair bit of vulgarity and one particular nausea-inducing scene, and yet I was always intrigued. The unexpected twists in the book were appreciated and made the book more enjoyable. Although there seems to be some method to the madness of this book, I was a little let down by the ending and was hoping for more of a dramatic turn of events for Peter/Pietro.

This book makes for a fast read and I finished it one sitting. I can't say that I felt particularly connected or sympathetic for any of the characters but they successfully held my attention and kept me turning the pages until the very end. "Beat the Reaper" is nothing if not fast-paced, exciting and even a little dangerous!

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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 8, 2013
Dr. Pietro Brnwa’s, the narrator and protagonist of this novel, celebrates a unique upbringing. Abandoned by his parents, he is raised by grandparents who are tragically killed when Peter's still in his teens. The family of Skinflick, his best friend, adopts Peter and welcomes him into their family however, with certain conditions. David Locano, Skinflick’s father is a lawyer for the mafia and his association extends to the family and from there to their adopted son. Peter’s narration fluctuates between the present where he is a doctor responsible for training medical students and the past where he is a young adolescent growing up with little or no adult supervision except the tutelage of Mr. Locano and his mafia friends. Mr. Bazell has a very funny turn of phrase and a personal and extensive knowledge of the life of a doctor as he’s an active practitioner himself. Combined with a well-crafted plot, “Beat the Reaper” makes a very entertaining read.
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on February 25, 2009
Told from the first person with an almost in-your-face sort of directness, Beat The Reaper delivers an adrenaline-buzzed web of action that keeps the reader locked-in from page one to the end against a backdrop of New York City and New Jersey. Gangsters with colorful names like Skinflick populate the story which in addition to hardcore mobster brawling contains a touching, romantic subplot. Pietro Bearclaw Brnwa has entered witness protection as Dr. Brown, hiding from his past and from hitman out to destroy him. While he works at a New York Hospital where anyone would rather die than be admitted to, his past life comes to him in a series of flashbacks. His past as a mob assassin, however, does catch up with him in the hospital in scenes that would rival any war massacre for gore, drama, and action. The language of the book is not for the faint of heart. The book is a quick, adventurous and fun read.The Griffon Trilogy: Part I
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on February 3, 2010
I am a little ambivalent about 'Beat the Reaper'. It is not quite as funny as advertised, more humorous than funny, and it reminded me a little of a Hiassen book but again not quite as outrageous. All in all, I liked it but I would not by any stretch rate it as one of the best books of 2009 like Time magazine did.
Nicole Valiquette
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on November 15, 2009
This is the book Elmore Leonard would have written were he not in love with his own ability to create 'grittty & witty' dialogue, only less overreaching and longwinded. Bazell gets into the guts of internal monologue like I've always wished writers would...without the flourish or the, 'Tada, look how clever I am folks' feel that comes across from other writers. The only caveat I have with this piece; much too brief a read.
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on July 7, 2013
This book is fantastic. I couldn't put it down and am actually thinking of reading it a second time! Josh Bazell used his experience in the medical field to make a realistic experience in this book. It's fiction, but almost feels as though it could be a true story!
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