Dr. Peter Brown is having a rough day -- he's fighting to keep a patient alive long enough for someone competent to diagnose him properly -- he's also fighting to get someone to diagnose him properly. And he's a got a new patient that recognizes him from his past life, who makes a threat -- keep him alive, or someone will divulge that Brown's got a new name and can be found at this hospital.
Peter Brown is the new name for someone in the Witness Protection Program -- he was a contract killer who flipped on his employers and got sent to medical school. He'd been doing a pretty good job of moving on, but . . .
The novel tells Brown's story in flashbacks through his childhood, becoming a criminal and what forced the break from that, um, atypical career path. Then we get to see him scrambling to stay alive in the present, and maybe keep some of his patients in the same state.
A first-person narrator describing how he's killing someone with medical precision, and a touch of humor is just so much fun. This is a very visceral book -- whether describing what a patient is suffering, what Peter is inflicting on someone, what someone's inflicting on Peter, or even the drugs he takes to maintain alertness -- he describes in the kind of detail you just don't see anywhere else. You can feel it.
Peter's got a great sense of humor -- dark, sure, but what else can he have in is position? But if you don't find yourself at least grinning a a few times, there's something wrong with you.
Robert Petkoff narrates this in a hyper-masculine tone of voice, which fits perfectly. He embodies Peter in a way that you hope an audiobook narrator can. I liked the audiobook by him I heard last year, but this one seems like he got into the story more, like he was having fun (of course, this is a much more "fun" book than Before the Fall wants to be). Basically, he does a great job.
Part of me wants to go into more detail -- but I find myself being restrained. Beat the Reaper is visceral, witty, intelligent and violent -- this has all the elements of a thriller that'll appeal to me. The plot and characters are pretty decent, too -- that's more than you can ask, really.