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Beat the Reaper

(Peter Brown #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  14,119 Ratings  ·  2,313 Reviews
Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan's worst hospital, with a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he'd prefer to keep hidden. Whether it's a blocked circumflex artery or a plan to land a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwna is a hitman for the mob, with a genius for violence, a well-earned fear
Paperback, 295 pages
Published September 14th 2009 by Back Bay Books (first published September 7th 2008)
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(B) 72% | More than Satisfactory
Notes: Falling apart at the end, it presents the most uncomfortable moment I’ve ever had reading in its penultimate chapter.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Rostron
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Utterly ridiculous, gratuitously violent, highly improbable, totally engrossing, lightening-paced. Why don't more people write like this?
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.)

Gamma Mouse
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: Mike Reynolds
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Rick F.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
James Thane
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
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
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
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.
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
Leah Craig
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am now super knowledgeable about medicine, the mafia, the holocaust, and how to fight my way out of a bad situation using my own damn body parts. Thanks, Josh Bazell! Not sure I’ll sleep tonight.
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2017, 1audio, audio-read
3.5 stars for the Audible version.

Well, now. I'm not even really sure what I just finished listening to! Beat the Reaper was fast-paced, gritty, edgy, and funny. It also, at times, seemed to try too hard to be shocking. This is not a book for prudes nor for the squeamish.

It took me a bit to get into the rhythm of chapters that alternated between telling past events and those happening *right now*, but overall I enjoyed this book, and I think narrator Robert Petkoff was a perfect choice -- I'll
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Carmel
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
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rarely if ever do this, but I'm doing it now. I loved this book. It is a great book. It is funny, savage, shocking, smart, and a great read. Go forth. Obtain it. Bathe in the madness. Giggle into your tea. Look with suspicion upon doctors. Gasp in horror.

Be Bazelled.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely outrageous story jam-packed with extremely dark and, it has to be said, some very sick humour. Peter Brown is an intern at a Manhattan hospital. He's also a former hitman for the Mafia and currently in the Witness Protection programme.

The action switches between Peter's work at the hospital and his earlier life, beginning when he was raised by his Jewish grandparents who were murdered in their home and their bodies discovered by Pete who was set on his path to becoming a profession
Sebastien Castell
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
Beat The Reaper is pure modern noir. The dialogue is bold and stylish (with hints of Raymond Chandler), the characters are simultaneously over-the-top while still having those nuanced touches of humanity that makes you believe in them anyway, and the pace is relentless. It's an incredibly well-written book that I devoured in just a few days.

The story centres around an ex-hitman who winds up in witness protection, goes to med school, and becomes a resident at a hospital so vile you start to wonde
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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!!!!!


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
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
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, crime
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
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
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Book about ex(possibly jewish) mobster [s] 4 15 Dec 08, 2014 08:31AM  
crime vs compassion 8 70 Sep 24, 2014 05:28PM  
Pulp Fiction: May 2012 - Beat the Reaper 32 77 Mar 19, 2013 05:44PM  
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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.” 53 likes
“When God is truly angry, He will not send vengeful angels.

He will send Magdalena.

Then take her away.”
More quotes…