Gavin's Reviews > Beat the Reaper

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
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's review
Apr 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be, crime-mystery-thriller

There are so many amazing pun-tacular titles that Josh Bazell could have gone for when writing this book. The novel is a huge success and great fun, but it's worthy of extra note if only because he didn't succumb to the temptation that must have been gnawing constantly at his gut to slap something like "House (M.D) the Hitman" on the front cover. Or "Murder, Mafiosos and Medicine".

Beat The Reaper is a frenetically paced, thrills, chills and spills ride of an action thriller. Replete with medias res opening, first person, flashback-strewn narration and bloody, bone-crunching action it is a book that most impresses by being as subtle as it is crass. Ooh! "Youth and Euthanasia". Pietro Brwna starts work by being mugged, and his day -with the odd exception- more or less consistently slides downhill from there.

Again, this was a short, lean book with no fat on it's bones so I can't go into too much detail ("Sharks, Shagging and Surgery"), but as you read, you start to realise that in this prima facie ludicrous airport kill-em-up is actually a rather heart-felt treatise on the sins of the past, and their bearing on the present. Specifically in terms of violence on any scale and the effect it has on both victim and perpetrator. Perhaps I read too far into it and was just desperate to see more than there was because I was so swept up in the narrative, but it genuinely feels like Bazell brought something worth saying to a table majoritively occupied by barely-closeted racists and teenagers. "Jews and Jaw-breaking".

Sadly, as with every single other action thriller in history, women are objectified to the point at which you start to suspect the author is a Big Hopeless Goon, the sex stuff is really off-putting, and anyone who isn't The Protagonist is basically set-dressing in terms of characterisation. These foibles aside, though, I think this may well be the face-pouch-laden, wooping silverback of airport action-lit.

If you're looking for a few hours of (literally) punchy, straight-forward reading (that will teach you a suprising amount about the human body, the holocaust and the origins of the Mafia), this is as good as I've read.
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2012 – Started Reading
April 2, 2012 – Shelved
April 2, 2012 –
page 1
0.32% ""And the only oath I took, as I recall, was to first do no harm." Glorious trash, take me in your arms I'm home."
April 7, 2012 – Shelved as: better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be
April 7, 2012 – Shelved as: crime-mystery-thriller
April 7, 2012 – Finished Reading

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