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Beat the Reaper (Peter Brown #1)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  10,301 ratings  ·  1,914 reviews
Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient--and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a wh ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 416 pages
Published January 7th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 7th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kemper
Anybody who thinks the U.S. doesn't need health care reform should read this book. Since the author was a medical intern and the details about patient care seem horribly realistic, I think I'd rather read a Surgery For Dummies book and attempt my own future operations with a bottle of Jack Daniels, a carpet knife, duct tape and some rusty pliers rather than risk being admitted to a hospital after reading this.

Peter Brown is a harried resident trying to get through another miserable day at a larg
...more
Robert
Hey fuckhead,

Yep, you, the one with the track marks running down both arms trying to slide off into oblivion, with the tilted head and the faraway expression, staring at the sun like it’s some four-headed monster ready to steal your dreams, twitching for your next fix like some random dog left out in the rain too long, with a stutter-stepping walk and attitude, veering off from the rest of the universe like a bad dream; you might want to sit this one out, otherwise you might have more than just
...more
Nathan Rostron
Utterly ridiculous, gratuitously violent, highly improbable, totally engrossing, lightening-paced. Why don't more people write like this?
Paul Stotts
I’m a Charlie Huston honk. There, I admitted it. Like the first step out of twelve, I recognize my problem. And I feel unburdened. Free almost. I’m a Huston-holic. A junkie for Charlie’s magical mushroom prose. And like every good Huston-holic, I’m always searching for writers with a similar style. Writers that’ll grab me by the throat, worrying me like a dog.

Enter Josh Bazell.

A combination of Huston and Chuck Palahniuk, Bazell stuns with his debut novel Beat the Reaper, a brutal and humorous m
...more
Nick
Jan 28, 2009 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like things that are awesome
Recommended to Nick by: ba
This book is A-MAY-ZING. Straight up. Please read this.

It's hilarious and wildly disturbing all at the same time. Bazell is like the Chuck Palahniuk for sane people.

This will just be easier if I quote Ron Charles.

"Beat the Reaper is a hypochondriac's nightmare but a reader's dream. Josh Bazell concocted this comic thriller while working as a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and if anything he describes here is true, we should all become Christian Scientists."


I wan
...more
Michael
Jun 29, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Robert Downs
An outrageous novel that got me laughing a lot in between painfully gruesome situations, a plot worthy of comic books, and occasional absurdly implausible sex scenes.

A young intern of Polish Jewish background, Peter Brown, tries to save patients from gross incompetence at the “worst hospital in Manhattan” while popping drugs to keep awake. It turns out he is former mob hit man in Witness Protection, and his cover is in danger of being blown. Much of the tale corresponds to reflecting back on hi
...more
Bonnie
Aug 12, 2009 Bonnie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: Mike Reynolds
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tfitoby
I finally received a copy of this book 5 weeks after the Pulp Fiction group chose it as their monthly read. Go AusPost! But it was an ugly copy that felt like it had been photocopied, including a glossy print for the flimsy cover. Must do better work at publishing actual books people.

About two thirds of the way through my interest was waning and I decided to check out the 1 Star reviews to see if others were having the same problem I was having with it - the flashbacks were slow and largely unin
...more
Patrick
When I started reading this, I had the vague expectation that it was going to be some sort of urban fantasy.

It wasn't. But that didn't keep me absolutely loving it.

It's funny, clever, fast-moving, irreverent, and horrifying in turns. I highly recommend it. Unless you're a hypochondriac. If you are, you should avoid it like the plague. (heh.)

James Thane
This is one of the most unique and entertaining novels I've read in a long time. At the age of fourteen, Pietro Brwna is orphaned for a second time when someone murders the grandparents who had raised him for much of his life. In school, Pietro befriends the son of a mob lawyer, Davide Locano, and the Locanos become his new surrogate family. But Pietro is determined to hunt down and kill the cretins who murdered his grandparents. With Locano's assistance, he identifies the killers and dispatches ...more
Eric
lately my book reviewing reminds me of that old snl skit where the guy reviews porn: 'interested, interested, really interested, then i lost all interest.'

i don't know if it's me or not.

this book started off with a bang. the tone of the narrator was a little obnoxious -- although isn't that a requirement for crime fiction? and why is that? it's' tired.

but that aside, the writer is entertaining and informative (truly some of the greatest hospital anecdotes i've ever read -- you almost wish he w
...more
Cheryl
Peter Brown is not your normal Manhattan ER doctor. When it comes to skeletons in the closest, he has tons. One of those skeletons he forced him to enter into the Witness Protection Program. Peter has been fighting with his demons for years. Peter was ready to start his day out like any other morning…with a walk in the park but there he gets mugged, than he receives an invite by a sexy pharmaceutical nurse for some TLC, and finally as if Peter’s day couldn’t get any worse, he new patient has tie ...more
Rick F.
I just finished BEAT THE REAPER by Josh Bazell- simply put- it is one of the greatest comic crime thrillers I have ever read- I am talking the Immortal Elmore Leonard/Carl Hiaasen territory - Bazell wrote this- his first novel while completing his residency at a hospital (he is now a full doctor I believe) I am still shocked at how perfect this book was- it had everything- even hilarious footnotes(a la Terry Pratchett) and a main character who is so endearing and lifelike that you cant help but ...more
Kim
Wow what a book. I only picked this one up for the Pulp Fiction book club and I never even looked at what it was about. Boy was I in for a surprise.

I started it tentatively as it kicks off with a doctor who seems rather handy in a fight and knows things a normal doctor wouldn't. From there it just ramps up and up and up. Part medical comedy, part gangster action this book floored me and I love every second of it. It feels like someone crossed Scrubs with The Sopranos. And it was smart. All the p
...more
Michael
I was recommended this book last year, and while it looks interesting, I kept putting this book off. I’m not sure why I did, as this book was so much fun to read. Think mob book (in the style of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch) meets Scrubs but with a much darker sense of humour. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell tells the story of Peter Brown, an intern for Manhattan’s worst hospital. Dr. Brown is in the Federal Witness Protection Program having previously been a mob hitman named Piet ...more
Erin
ok, here's the thing... at first i didn't think i was going to like this book that much. it seems a bit pretentious, especially the opening few paragraphs. its obvious they were meant to grab you and throw you into a world. and it works, only maybe you're not so sure its a world you care to explore. but here's the thing: i just kept reading and reading. it was engaging enough to keep me up all night just to see where things were going to go. its a bit like an episode of 'er' with flashbacks to ' ...more
Stephanie
Well,the style of this book is to be edgey. I have no problem with that in general when it works for the story, but this was just angry to be angry. I didn't see the point. I hated every character in the book, the author didn't see any reason to make anyone of them likable. I couldn't take it anymore so I stopped it. uuhhggg.
Amy
Great mix of medical thriller and mob revenge tale. Main character is a foul-mouthed and very funny former hit man who's hiding out as a doctor in a run-down hospital. If his former boss/mentor finds him, it means he's probably dead. I was hooked immediately and especially liked his hilarious and ironic footnotes.
Will
Josh Bazell is a rare writer in a way that he graduated with a B.A. in English Literature yet gave up its PhD program to earn Doctor of Medicine. He is now a medical resident in San Francisco, probably spending his time doing remedial procedures doctors do with a nice story to boot. It was a huge surprise for me then to find a first-print copy of his debut novel Beat the Ripper stuffed casually inside the bargain bin for all to see. Set in a ramshackle New York hospital, it tells the story of Pe ...more
Cyndi
May 18, 2012 Cyndi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with strong stomachs, people with a warped sense of humour
Recommended to Cyndi by: Goodreads group


" So I'm on my way to work and I stop to watch a pigeon fight a rat in the snow, and some fuckhead tries to mug me!"

The first line has sucked me right in!!!!!

5/18/12

Finished this book last night. It is one of the best things I have read this year!

Frenetic pace, dark/odd humour, surgeons/doctors, Mafia, a reforming hitman, and a fabulous gross-out at the end!! It absolutely rocks!!!!

I absolutely loved this shit! I almost feel empowered by reading it. I may need to socialize outside of my head mor
...more
Georg
In my view this is a crossing of three of my favorite novels, Everything Is Illuminated, The Godfather and The House of God: The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital, compound by Tarantino’s screenplay writer. In other words: a hard-boiled mafia story set in a modern American hospital with a backstory set in an East-European schtetl during Hitler’s war. Since Tarantino has his fingers in the game you have to read very carefully: The speed of the writing is contagious and if yo ...more
RandomAnthony
I wish I was stuck in an airport with Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, but as I wasn’t flying anywhere this week I took advantage of my nine year old’s baseball tryouts and knocked out the last third of this sucker in one sitting. The novel blends weird medical facts, a hit man in witness protection, and a narrator quickly running out of time before mafia thugs descend on the hospital in which he’s hiding. Beat the Reaper would make a cross-country flight feel like a commercial break; it’s not too ...more
Anastasia
A due terzi della lettura mollo platealmente il libro, nonostante le mie tendenze da lettrice martire che deve arrivare all'ultima pagina anche della cagata più cagata del secolo, solo per la (inutile) soddisfazione di poter dire di averlo letto effettivamente. Il bello è che non è neanche 'na merda da leggere con la mascherina in viso, è un libro oggettivamente valido, o almeno non malvagio, che semplicemente è la combinazione vincente per farmi dire "non è proprio il mio genere".
Vedi di non m
...more
rachel
Jan 25, 2012 rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to rachel by: ham, zach
I like that this is tagged "Adult" over there in the genres list. That is accurate! All of the athletic oral sex and hospital patient genitalia descriptions started to feel a little out of place after a while, since this book has plenty of other things going on (although one of those patient's genitalia actually solves a medical mystery, so I supposed that's justified.) Regardless, Dr! Josh Bazell's hospital- book-meets-Goodfellas gives a swift temple punch to all those generic medical thrillers ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
This is the #1 pick on the IndieNext List for January 2009, which is why it caught my attention (that and the obnoxiously bright cover it has!). The best description I can come up with for this book is if the series "The Sopranos" and the series "Scrubs" had a child, and made Quentin Tarantino and Amy Sedaris it's godparents, this would be the baby. The main character is a former Mob hitman who is in the witness protection program, finishing up his medical training (his way of making up for all ...more
Trin
I knew I was going to like this book as soon as I got to the first funny, clever footnote. Few things win me over as wholly and easily as novels with entertaining footnotes. See: Good Omens, Jonathan Strange Mr. Norrell, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and most of the Discworld books for further examples.

This book has great footnotes. It’s also got a doctor in witness protection on the run from the mob—and the medical parts are as fascinating and suspenseful as the mob bits. (The author is
...more
Rachel Folk
This book is truly incredible, considering I am actually taking time to write a review should tell you how awesome this book is. I think the part that really gets me is that he wrote it during in internship at a California hospital, where is he is a doctor. I mean come on! He must have the happiest parents in the world. I am openly going to admit that this man makes me feel bad about myself.

As for the book, it is well formed, well paced, and almost impossible to put down. Dealing with the past a
...more
Wart Hill
What would you do if your grandparents were killed by mob members who needed to kill to get initiated? It's senseless, it's awful, it's rage inducing. So there's a lot of reactions people can have. A lot of things you'd want to do, especially if they killers were never brought to justice.

If you're Peter Brown, you start with good intentions: you try to ingratiate yourself with a son of a mob member in the hopes of getting close enough to find out who pulled the triggers and do something about it
...more
Jack
Smart, funny, violent popcorn noir. I picked it up this afternoon and just kept reading, even while I cooked and ate dinner, and annoyed everyone around me until I had finished it. I kinda want to start at the beginning and read it straight through again.
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Peter Brown is a doctor at Manhattan Catholic Hospital with a horrible secret in his past. He is part of the Federal Witness Protection Program. Raised by his grandparents, Pietro Brwna, as he was known as at that time, comes home to find them brutally murdered. Having nowhere else to go, he attends an exclusive prep school and becomes friends with Adam Locano, the son of a Mafia lawyer. The Locanos treat him like family and eventually, Peter becomes a member of the Mafia.

Things go fine for a wh
...more
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Josh Bazell has a BA in writing from Brown University and a MD from Columbia University. He is currently a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and is working on his second novel. He wrote "Beat the Reaper" during the end of medical school and the beginning of residency. Some of his favorite writers are James Ellroy, Ken Bruen, Michael Connelly and Peter Lovesey. He sta ...more
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“Ah, youth. It's like heroin you've smoked instead of snorted. Gone so fast you can't believe you still have to pay for it.” 48 likes
“It's a weird curse, when you think about it. We're built for thought, and civilization, more than any other creature we've found. And all we really want to be is killers. ” 16 likes
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