Beat the Reaper

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Beat the Reaper is a crime novel published in 2009, the debut novel of author/physician Josh Bazell.

Several observers, including Phil Proctor,[1] have noted that "Beat the Reaper" was also the title of a comedy sketch by the Firesign Theatre, it is not currently known whether Bazell was aware of the previous usage.


The plot, written in first-person and alternating between present-day scenes and flashbacks, concerns Peter Brown, a medical resident in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

In the flashback chapters Brown narrates how, under his real name of Pietro Brwna, he fell in with a Mafia family and became a hitman after avenging the deaths of his grandparents who had survived the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. In the present, Brown must help save the life of a mobster who knew him as Brwna, lest the patient reveal Brwna/Brown's location to the local crime boss.


New Regency Productions has acquired film rights to the novel with an eye toward Leonardo DiCaprio as co-producer and lead actor.[2]


  1. ^ Little, Brown Wins 'Reaper'
  2. ^ DiCaprio set to 'Beat the Reaper'

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