One of the benefits to a life of librarianship is access to advance reader copies of upcoming books. Sometimes publishers respond to requests for upcoming books (I got a box of The Dead and the Gone from Harcourt) sometimes they just send copies out to random people (I got The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks in an unmarked envelope). My library system has a shelf of Advance Readers Copies free for the taking and one of the best books I read last year (that just came out) was on it.
Peter Brown is an overworked doctor at the worst hospital in New York. One morning he witnesses a rat fighting a pigeon, is the victim of an attempted mugging, and has to choke down experimental amphetamines to stay awake. But his day only gets worse when he finds he knows one his patients, a New Jersey mobster dying of cancer. How does Peter know this mob boss? Because Peter Brown was once Pietro Brwna, a hit man with ties to organized crime now in the witness protection program. And the mobster thinks Peter is there to kill him.
This is the beginning of a literary drag race featuring mobsters, lost love and assassination by shark. Beat the Reaper is sardonic, clever, and bad-ass all the way through. This is no Sopranos episode about the conflict between family and the Family, it's straight-ahead acceleration driven by betrayal, revenge, and violence.
It reminded me more than a little of The Wheelman another stylish thriller about violence -fueled crime. Definitely recommended for older teens looking for something a little for dangerous and gritty than Theives Like Us.
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