Available in January, 2009, Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell is a good first novel.
Author Josh Bazell is a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco. He has an MD from Columbia University and a BA in writing from Brown University.
Summary: Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient--and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a whole lot weirder. Because that patient knows Peter from his other life, when he had a different name and a very different job. The only reason he's a doctor now is thanks to the Witness Protection Program--and even they can't protect him from the long reach of the New Jersey mob. Now he's got to do whatever it takes to keep his patient alive so he can buy some time...and beat the reaper.
The book started slow. The book started with numerous explicatives - more than I care for. Peter started out very odd. And confusing. There are thought footnotes that make things confusing and don't really help much (kinda like here...now...except you'd have to go to the bottom of the page to read it...maybe I should stop doing it).
I liked the book. The story was interesting. How a former mob fellow becomes a doctor is intriguing just in itself. Add in the story about how he became a mob guy. Add in what it's like to be a resident doctor in a less-than-ideal hospital. (Okay, I actually pray that his description of the doctors and the hospital is not at all real...but I'm not going to do any research on that.)
The writing got better. The swearing lessened. The story drew me in and I wanted to know what happened to Peter, his girlfriend and why he's a doctor. It took me a couple of days to read the first half of the book, but the second half took only an hour or so. It was a good first novel.
I am now interested in finding out what happens next. My suggestion to author Josh Bazell would be to dump the footnote thing - figure out how to write that information into the main text. And develop some of the other characters a bit more for more relationship and story depth. But I look forward to reading the next one.
Thanks to Miriam Parker and Hachette Books for sending Beat the Reaper to me.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars