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Audiobook Review: *Beat the Reaper* by Josh Bazell

  • Beat the Reaper (Audio CD) by Josh Bazell; read by Robert Petkoff
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; Unabridged edition (January 7, 2009)  
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600244322
  • Back of the box blurbMeet 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.

    She is Too Fond of Books’ Review:  I listened to Beat the Reaper in installments, as a reward for getting  myself downstairs to the treadmill.  The action-packed storyline was a great incentive to exercise; and let me tell you, I ran faster and faster as the tension increased!

    The main character, Peter Brown, serves as narrator in real time, telling us about a single day’s events as they occur.  These portions alternate with trips into the past, which explain all the events that have led Peter to where he is.  The current-day story takes place at the fictitious (thank goodness!) Manhattan Catholic Hospital; dips into the past take us everywhere from Coney Island to Auschwitz.

    The back and forth in time was very effective … I never knew where/when a new track on the audio would take me, so the suspense grew.

    The plot is well-developed and has lots of twists and turns.  The characters, from the main players (Peter Brown and the hit men that haunt him) to peripheral characters (patients and various staff in the hospital), have strong traits which make it easy to keep their stories separate.  As I listened, I could imagine Beat the Reaper as a movie.  The inflection and pacing of the audio really enhanced my enjoyment of the storyline.

    Beat the Reaper won’t be for everyone; I’m not sure I could have read some of the graphic violence, but listening to it was like hearing only the audio of a movie thriller, it fits the genre.  Be forewarned, in addition to graphic violence there is a lot of profanity and crass descriptions.  I listen to audiobooks exclusively on the iPod (not in the car, or other “public” audio); I wouldn’t have been able to play this in the house with the kids around!

    Author Josh Bazell is a doctor, and he peppers the book with descriptions of medical trivia and procedures.  Some are factual, some are funny, some are bizarre or even gruesome.  Many are complete figments of his incredible imagination; I found them entertaining.

    Robert Petkoff, the voice actor who reads the book, is incredible!  He “does” so many voices convincingly – male, female, all ages, from speech with tinges of a foreign past to Brooklyn accents, Petkoff has it all.  I’d seek out another audiobook read by him, as I’d look forward to another edge-of-your-seat novel from Josh Bezell.

    13 comments to Audiobook Review: *Beat the Reaper* by Josh Bazell

    • I read the book and loved it, so I think the audio would be incredible if it was read by the right person. Glad to see it was!

    • I have heard SO much about this book, and you have just brought it back to mind. I am going to see if my library carries the audio. I am not ready yet to dive back into the next Outlander book, and this would be a nice diversion! (I have no issues with violence, language or tension! I am warped!)

    • I was glad to see so many had this book for the readathon, because if there is one book that can keep you awake, this one can!

    • I saw the audio for this at our library the other week but didn’t pick it up. I’ll have to take another look at it next time.

    • I loved the book, but was unsure how the footnotes would work in audio format…

    • Well, none of your “warnings” sound too bad to me so I think I will read this (but not listen…I don’t “do” audiobooks yet). : )

    • Sounds good! I’ve just put in on my audible.com wiah list.

    • Kathy – it was great to listen to; I’m really enjoying audiobooks now.

      Sandy – my warning was so nobody listens to it in the car with the kids :)

      rhapsody – I hope he continues to write. Medicine, writing … what *can’t* the man do?!?

      Betty & Boo – lucky that your library has good audio selections.

      Melissa – I didn’t know there were footnotes until I looked at the book in a store this weekend. He just read them, as if Peter Brown were saying it as an aside.

      Jenners – let me know how you like it. Bermudaonion says it was a pageturner, not just a pick-up-the-pace when running book!

      JoAnn – strange combination, but it is very amusing in parts.

    • That’s quite the review! :) I may have to check this one out sometime.

    • I have been interested in reading this book for some time now, so I am glad to hear that it’s a good one. Great review!

    • This one sounds good. I’ll have to try exercising to audio books; I need the motivation!

    • Amy – I really like it; not for the kids’ ears, though.

      zibilee – let me know what you think … it’s certainly less literary than you usually read, but a great audio!

      Anna – I’m pretty strict about listening only when I’m exercising. It works for me!

    • [...] did I read it: Three years ago I listened to the audiobook edition of Beat the Reaper and have recommended it to several friends; I was so pleased to know that Bazell had another book [...]

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