Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beat the F***ing Reaper

OMG. I just finished Beat the Reaper, being the first "For Mystery Addicts (4MA)" list discussion book I've read since I joined that list, and is it ever good. 4MA will be discussing it from 1/20-1/30 if you want to check it out. You'll see my use of the almost invective in the subject line is entirely appropriate. LOL from start to finish. Thanks fto 4MA for recommending it since I would never have picked it on my own to read based its subject, hero, and cover art. Didn't seem like my kind of thing.

Does anyone remember the bit by Firesign Theater? "Now it's time to play Beaaaat the Reaper!!!"

Its plot is basically unbelievable and is not so much a whodunit or police procedural or any type of subgenre I can easily button hole it into. Thriller? Mafia mystery? Medical mystery? Unholy mix of them all. Its setting is not evocative or detailed and even the hospital setting is kind of sketchy.

Manhattan (where it's allegedly set) is not given much of any detail (well there is one memorable Manhattan location). A few scenes in Bergen County could have been interesting - having spent some time there myself - but Josh Bazell has other fish to fry. Almost literally.

In any case most NJ natives take a fairly dim view of Sopranoesque NJ settings that outsiders love to tout. See, for example, historian Marc Mappen's new book (There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos).

No, the fun in this book is in the hysterical dialogue, observations, footnotes (yes footnotes) of medical matters, and the characters, especially that of the main character, Peter Brown/Pietro Brnwa. The action lurches along at high speed - I almost feel I've ingested some "Moxfane" myself - the high speed drug of choice for this chronically sleep deprived guy. I imagine this book would be hard going for the squeamish since many violent and bloody things occur but it was really, really funny and fun to read. A wacky kind of pageturner.

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