Book Review: Beat the Reaper

Internist Dr. Peter Brown works under brutal conditions at a chronically overloaded Manhattan hospital, relying on drugs and cunning to keep up with the steady stream of patients. Dr. Brown also has a secret identity threatened by the arrival of new patient Nicholas LoBrutto, better known in mob circles as Eddy Squillante.

After the shooting death of his grandparents who raised him, Pietro “Bearclaw” Brnwa vowed to find the men responsible. Taken in by the family of his school chum “Skinflick” Locanos, Pietro eventually makes good on his promise. He killed the brothers who shot his grandparents and in doing so, became a mob hit man.

Becoming disenchanted with both the Locanos family and the mob, Pietro attempts to break away by joining the Witness Protection Program. The new life he has spent seven years to build is about to come crashing down as Squillante fingers him. Somehow, Pietro must outwit assorted hit men and Skinflick while deciding the direction of his life, that is if he stays alive.

Bazell’s debut novel is a darkly funny, page-turning suspense that delivers plenty of one-liners like “A Neanderthal would kick your ass and then eat it, but try finding one to test this.” A doctor writing a story set in a hospital means there is bound to be some medical jargon but fear not, it’s all in context and adds considerable depth to this fast, furious, completely fun read.

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