Tim loaned me Beat the Reaper, the debut novel by Josh Bazell, a guy with an English Literature degree who went to med school and is now doing his residency. When you add those two up, you would assume the guy knows how to write, and that he knows a little about medicine. And I think you’d be right on both counts.
This isn’t a world-changing book, but it was an easy, entertaining read. It tells the story of a guy named Pietro Brnwa, a/k/a Peter Brown, who became an enforcer in the mob through a series of calculated moves following the murder of his grandparents, mainly to track down his grandparents’ killers (who he suspected were in the mob). The book flashes back from and forth between his past and his present, where he’s in the witness protection program and working as a doctor at a hospital in Manhattan, but does so in a way that doesn’t throw the reader too far off the trail.
Side note: Bazell throws out a lot of medical tidbits as footnotes, and I’ve been able to act like a smart guy by tossing them out at random while conversing with doctor friends.
Peter befriends the son of a mob lawyer, nicknamed Skinflick, while attending private school, and this friendship leads to all sorts of crazy nonsense. The dynamic tension between Peter, who is only doing these mob-related things in pursuit of what he believes to be a noble purpose, and Skinflick, who is incompetent but wants to be a mobster, is hilarious.
Anyway, fast forward to the end. I used to think McGiver knew how to make something out of nothing. And I still think Jack Bauer is the toughest guy there is. But when you’re knocked out cold and locked in a blood freezer at the hospital to await the arrival of someone who wants to kill you and who’s been training in knife fighting in South America for years in preparation for this moment, I don’t know that you would think to do what Peter does to prepare for this throwdown. I’ll leave it at that.
(Read Tim’s review here.)