Warning: I'm going to use every cliched hyperbole of enthusiasm I can cram into one post here, because this book was a roller coaster ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat!
Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell, and it's embarrassing that I can't think of anything to say that actually tells you about the book without sounding like all the back cover blurbs and reviewers and what am I even here for? The book is funny and smart and FAST--it moves like the wind, and you can almost get whiplash only it never quite pushes you too far. It's about a resident at a miserable mess of a hospital, whose night is being complicated by bizarre illnesses, incompetent coworkers, an insane work schedule--and, oh yeah, one of his former mafia colleagues who threatens to tell everyone from his old life where he's keeping his Witness Protected self unless he (said former mafia colleague) is kept alive by our hero in the face of a terminal illness.
In between scenes from this one really, really bad day, we get flashbacks from our hero's life, which, as you can probably imagine, is full of adventures. It's not for everyone--it's violent, by a lot--but it's absolutely hilarious, and absolutely relentless. There's a scene at the end where I stopped the audiobook, called my husband (who read the book last week) and said, "Is he seriously going to do what I think he's doing?" And the answer is, "Hell yeah, he's doing that." I can't tell you any more without spoiling, but seriously, read the book and call me 20 pages from the end with that same question.
Now, I think I need to especially sell you on the audiobook. The narrator was awesome. I have never heard such a good performance, with such a pitch-perfect character. I know that part of the reason this worked is that the book was written in the first person with such a true voice, but man, this guy just hit every note. So if you're looking for an audiobook, this is the first one you should pick up.
And memo to Josh Bazell: I'm waiting for whatever you publish next. Any time now...