Racing the Reaper: Book Review

In the late 1980s when I was first going to EMT School there were very few true life EMS books out there. What ones there were I devoured. I specifically recall Paramedic by Paul Fischer and EMT: Beyond the Sirens by Pat Ivey. There was only one novel I was aware of — Street Dancer by the late Keith Neely. Like many of the books that followed in subsequent years they all followed the same pattern. Newbie takes an EMT class, gets certified, starts working, overcomes their fears and clumsiness and become competent, while encountering a variety of archetypes along the way. The books were great for someone like me looking for what the life was really like.

For many years, even after I had been working for a long time, I continued to read each new EMS book as I discovered them. After awhile, I got a little tired of the same stories, and stopped reading unless I heard something special.

Occasionally other authors have reached out and asked me to read and review their works and I have always done so if they sent me a copy. Recently I received a copy of Racing the Reaper by Jerrid Edgington, which he initially self-published but which I understand now is being republished by Master Koda Publishing, along with his second novel, Racing the Reaper: The Resuscitation. Congratulations to Edgington.

The book is not a memoir, but a novel, a work of fiction. I have actually come to prefer EMS fiction to the non fiction story type. I think with fiction you can get closer to the truth and are not always controlled by the need to be politically correct. The best EMS book I have read in recent years was a novel called Black Flies by Shannon Burke, which was a recreation of Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness recast in EMS. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I started reading Racing the Reaper at work on the ambulance, and thanks to an unexpectedly slow day was able to get through it before the shift was over. It is an easy read, and goes quickly. The story arc again follows the traditional newbie to confident responder structure. We see the narrator before he is in EMS, and follow him through class and from volunteer squad to commercial ambulance in a high volume system.

I confess when I started the book, I was under the mistaken impression that it was a vampire novel and kept wondering when the lead character was going to get bitten in the neck. I think this mistake came about because the author’s last name is the same as one of the vampires in HBO’s True Blood, (Russell Edgington), and because there is a paramedic out there writing a series of novels about vampires (actually zombies) in EMS. A third reason was the ominous line at the end of Chapter 2.

The lead character suffers a serious injury in the first chapter and after a hard recovery leaves the hospital at the end of chapter two. Here is the line; “If he only knew what turns his life was about to take, he wouldn’t have left the hospital.”

He is not bitten and turned into a vampire, but he does have to deal with an unsettling character. By the end of the book, we see what at least the first scary turn is, but we are left hanging about the future turns. The book is more of a opening sally to a larger adventure than a complete novel on its own.

Edgington’s second book Racing the Reaper : The Resuscitation is also available on Amazon. The description includes the following: “If he only knew what was going to happen to him, he wouldn’t have moved to Idaho.”

There may be many more books to come or it could be a simple two book set. Not certain.

Overall, an easy read, with lots of authentic EMS detail. Writing fiction is much harder than nonfiction, and Jerrid Edgington has succeeded in his task, adding his two books to the growing body of EMS fiction. Bravo!

Amazon Link for Racing the Reaper


  • Red says:

    Sounds like a good book, must add it to my Christmas list.

    It was actually your book, Paramedic, that solidified my desire for this career. I had large portions of it memorized because I read it so often throughout high school.

  • Jordan Collins says:

    I have read the first book and I must confess that I was sucked in quickly. While I admire the truly authentic EMS procedures I was also taken slightly aback. The amount of disaster seemed a little(lot) farfetched. I continued reading with an appreciation that it was fiction at heart. Finishing it with mixed feelings I must confess that I will be getting the second book. Peter’s books were my first EMS fiction/non-fiction. They have inspired me to begin looking into my own EMS novel. When are you putting out another book Peter?

    • medicscribe says:

      Hi Jordan, thanks for the comments. I have another book I am finishing, but haven’t had time to get it completely done up. It is another novel.


  • I was surfing the web and came across this page. I am humbled by the review and comments. I can’t thank you all enough. The first two books that originally were self published, were re-edited by my publisher and re-released. The third book in the series, Reaper’s Requiem, will be released on December 6, 2014. My publisher has signed a fourth book to the series, The Reaper Returns.

    Again, thank you!

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Peter Canning

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