Beat the Reaper

Josh Bazell, Author . Little, Brown $24.99 (310p) ISBN 978-0-316-03222-3

Making a hit man turned medical intern a sympathetic figure would be a tall order for most authors, but first-time novelist Bazell makes it look easy in this breezy and darkly comic suspense novel. The Locanos, a mob family, take in 14-year-old Pietro Brwna (pronounced “Browna”) after a couple of thugs gun down the grandparents who raised him in their New Jersey home. Bent on revenge, Pietro pursues the killers and executes them a year later. Impressed by Pietro’s performance, David Locano recruits Pietro as a hit man. After more traumas, Pietro tries to make a break from his past by entering the witness protection program. Now known as Peter Brown, he eventually lands a position as a doctor at a decrepit Manhattan hospital, where by chance a former Mafia associate turns up as a patient and threatens to rat him out. The hero’s wry narrative voice, coupled with Bazell’s artful use of flashbacks to sustain tension and fill in Pietro’s past, are a winning combination. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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