What it's about, courtesy of the publisher:
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 of sharks, and an overly close relationship with the Federal Witness Relocation Program. More likely to leave a trail of dead gangsters than a molecule of evidence, he's the last person you want to see in your hospital room.
Nicholas LoBrutto, aka Eddy Squillante, is Dr. Brown's new patient, with three months to live and a very strange idea: that Peter Brown and Pietro Brnwa might-just might-be the same person ...
Now, with the mob, the government, and death itself descending on the hospital, Peter has to buy time and do whatever it takes to keep his patients, himself, and his last shot at redemption alive. To get through the next eight hours-and somehow beat the reaper.
Spattered in adrenaline-fueled action and bone-saw-sharp dialogue, BEAT THE REAPER is a debut thriller so utterly original you won't be able to guess what happens next, and so shockingly entertaining you won't be able to put it down.
Doesn't it sound good? Apparently quite a lot of people thought so as well. The movie of Beat The Reaper is in production with Leonardo DiCaprio co-producing and starring in it! If you'd like to win a copy of the book, keep reading! Or listen to this great interview with Josh Bazell.
The author, Josh Bazell, has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Brown University and an M.D. from Columbia University and is currently a medical resident at University of California, San Fransisco. He's also working on his second novel.Read an excerpt, learn more about Beat The Reaper and Josh Bazell at http://www.beatthereaper.com/
The publishers have given special attention to reading groups for this book, doesn't it seem like the sort of book that would be fun to discuss? Here's a list of discussion questions for your local reading group, courtesy of Hatchette Book Group:
1. There are many dramatically charged scenes in Beat the Reaper, but the story is also broadly humorous. What was the funniest moment in the novel for you, and why?
2. Near the end of the novel Pietro Brnwa/Peter Brown’s mentor Prof. Marmoset tells him, “Any time you can tell the difference between something you can do something about and something you can’t, you should thank God. Particularly if it turns out to be something you can’t” (page 304). How effectively does Pietro/Peter “tell the difference” throughout the novel? What do you think he’s learned by the story’s conclusion?
3. “As any other American child would, I picked Batman and Charles Bronson in Death Wish as role models” (page 26). In what ways is Pietro’s early life a typical (or atypical) American childhood? Discuss his teenage induction into crime as a way of life.
4. The footnotes that the author uses throughout Beat the Reaper are at times informative, at times humorous, often both. Identify your favorite footnote and explain what you like about it.
5. Early in the novel Dr. Peter Brown observes that “humans hate being mentally strong and physically weak” (page 28). Do you agree? By the story’s end, is it Pietro/Peter’s mental or physical strength that has served him best?
6. Who was your favorite character in Beat the Reaper: Pietro Brnwa/Peter Brown? Skinflick? David Locano? Magdalena? Eddy Squillante? Did you find that your favorite had changed by the end of the novel?
7. Why did Pietro’s trip to Poland in 1994 (chapter 8) become a significant turning point in his life? What surprising discovery about his grandparents did Pietro make on that trip? What did he learn about himself?
8. When Pietro meets Magdalena’s parents for the first time, her father tells him, “You appear to have nothing in common with my daughter at all” (page 173), and yet in many ways Pietro and Magdalena seem a perfect couple. Why do you think they are so well suited to each other?
9. Discuss the character of Skinflick. Ultimately, how does Skinflick influence Pietro Brnwa’s transformation into Peter Brown? How does Magdalena?
10. Beat the Reaper is filled with examples of doctors (and other members of the medical establishment) behaving badly. Name a few such episodes. How unlikely or outrageous do these episodes seem to you? Could there be a kernel of truth in any of them?
11. As a young hit man, Pietro Brnwa took pains to make sure that his victims were “killers whose deaths would improve the world” (page 108). Do you think murder is ever justified? Reconcile your answer with Pietro’s observation that “murdering someone is bad for you. It murders something in yourself, and has all kinds of other consequences you can’t possibly foresee” (page 59).12. What do you think the future holds for Dr. Peter Brown? Do you think he will quit crime for good, or will he leave medicine and return to his old habits? What would you like to see happen?
Thanks to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group, five lucky readers will each win a copy of Beat The Reaper!
To enter, please share a story about an awful hospital experience (your own or someone else's or imagined). If you haven't got a hospital horror story to share, tell us about a particularly competent and helpful doctor that you've had lately.
Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address and answer, no entry. The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on October 31, 2009.
Thank you so much to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway!