VJ Books Blog

(usatoday, Jan. 20, Carol Memmott)

Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell’s outrageously funny novel about a hit man turned doctor, is one book the American Medical Association won’t prescribe for you.

Ignore its advice. This may be the most imaginative, albeit the most violent and profanity-laden, debuts of the new year.

Pietro “Bearclaw” Brnwa becomes a hit man as a teenager when he follows his uncontrollable urge to find and kill whoever murdered his grandparents.

Many murders later, Brnwa, fed up with organized crime, has a chance to enter the Witness Protection Program. He takes it. Years later, he’s Dr. Peter Brown and working at Manhattan Catholic Hospital. Things are great until a former Mob acquaintance being treated for cancer recognizes him and gets the word out to Brnwa’s enemies.

The result is a hyper-violent account of Brnwa’s life as a hit man and what can best be described as an ugly look at day-to-day hospital life.

If you don’t like extreme gun violence, blow-by-blow descriptions of surgical procedures performed by doped-up, angry doctors, the lack of care administered by bitter nurses, misdiagnoses and a huge dose of vulgarity, this novel is not for you.

If, however, you can take all of the above, you’ll be treated to a story that gets at the heart of one man’s immense loneliness and heartbreak. Be warned: One of the final scenes reaches new heights for gory.

How then, you might ask, does this novel earn its comedic stripes? Bazell, a medical resident at the University of California, brings a Scrubs mind-set to his story and jacks it up to an outrageous level that will never be seen on network TV.

Order his signed first edition from www.vjbooks.com today!