Today’s Debut of the Day pick is Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, the rare book that could be described as both a romp and a murder-mystery. Bazell, who trained as a doctor before writing the novel, serves up plenty of laughs alongside the action in a story that will please fans of Janet Evanovich and Timothy Hallinan.
When it comes to the human body, Bazell knows his bones. He has an M.D. from Columbia University and is a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco. His protagonist, Pietro Brnwa, is also a doctor—an overworked Manhattan hospital intern who goes by the name Peter Brown. Pietro took an unusual road to his Hippocratic oath, having spent his earlier years as a mob hit man nicknamed "The Bearclaw." After seeing the error of his ways—which in the mafia means he testified against his former employers and joined the witness protection program—he became a doctor as penance. Not surprisingly, Brnwa's former life catches up with him.
Read the full review from our January 2009 issue here.