Beat the Reaper
Why this book?
Easily my favorite book ever—one I’ve read or listened to five times—Reaper is a fictional imagining of the double-life of a medical resident at a fictional New York hospital. It is entirely convincing, since Bazell was actually a medical resident (at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center) when he wrote it. Don’t ask me how a resident finds the time to write, but boy did he knock this one out of the park! Reaper is the story of Peter Brnwa (Brown), son of Jewish/Polish war victims, who becomes a mob hitman after being informally adopted by his best friend's mafioso family. Peter’s intent is to avenge the murders of the grandparents who raised him. When he decides to get out of the business, he’s enrolled in the witness protection program and, simultaneously, med school. Of course, the mob discovers him there, and the results are hysterical as he tries to juggle killing and saving people all in the course of a typical day at the hospital. As a filmmaker, I actually considered adapting this story. (My connection: Bazell and I have a friend in common.)