05 March 2015

Review of The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn

Title:  The Intern's Handbook

Author:  Shane Kuhn

Publication Information:  April 2014 by Simon & Schuster

How I Got a Copy of This Book:  I can't remember exactly how I got a copy of the ARC, but the publisher asked if I would be interested in reviewing the book, so I decided to give it a shot.

Goodreads Summary:  Interns are invisible. That’s the mantra behind HR, Inc., an elite "placement agency" that doubles as a network of assassins-for-hire, taking down high-profile executives who wouldn't be able to remember an intern’s name if their lives depended on it.

At the ripe old age of twenty-five, John Lago is already New York City’s most successful hit man. He’s also an intern at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, clocking eighty hours a week getting coffee, answering phones, and doing all the grunt work no one else wants to do. But he isn't trying to claw his way to the top of the corporate food chain. He was hired to assassinate one of the firm’s heavily guarded partners. His internship is the perfect cover, enabling him to gather intel and gain access in order to pull off a clean, untraceable hit.

The Intern’s Handbook is John Lago's unofficial survival guide for new recruits at HR, Inc. (Rule #4: "Learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee: you make an exec the best coffee he’s ever had, and he will make sure you’re at his desk every morning for a repeat performance. That’s repetitive exposure, which begets access and trust. 44% of my kills came from my superior coffee-making abilities.")

Part confessional, part how-to, the handbook chronicles John’s final assignment, a twisted thrill ride in which he is pitted against the toughest—and sexiest—adversary he’s ever faced: Alice, an FBI agent assigned to take down the same law partner he’s been assigned to kill.

My Thoughts:  This book was extremely fun to read.  I've gotten rather into thrillers over the past few years.  This book reminded me quite a bit of Archer if Sterling Archer were doing a long-term undercover assignment.  The protagonist, John Lago, is pretty smooth.  He's an assassin who is great at what he does and he's a bit cocky about it.  But he finally meets his match on his last mission ever.  The ending is one I didn't see coming, but once I got there, it was the only ending that there could be.

Most of the book is Lago writing instructions and tips for future assassins.  Occasionally, there are FBI transcripts.  These transcripts do an excellent job of furthering the plot in ways that John's narrative could not do.  He also includes his rules for how to do his job.  John spends a good amount of time discussing how being an orphan helps him do his job because he has not had an easy life with clear rules and feelings towards other people.  This was really interesting to ponder.  Finally, he gets to the point where he finishes his handbook and continues to tell the story.

I really enjoyed the thriller from a first person perspective.  I'm sure there are other novels out there that use this technique, but I haven't read any before, so it was new for me.  I liked the depth that it brought to the story.  And I liked the voice of John Lago.  He was intelligent and funny, but also removed and distant.

I read good bits of this book with NCIS playing in the background.  This was a great combination!  Both are about agents who have a job to do.  The NCIS agents sometimes bend the rules to the breaking point in order to get their man.  John is an assassin who disregards all rules and laws to get his man (who is usually a very bad person who really kind of deserves to die, even if it's not exactly legal).

Four stars for a fun read and an awesome narrator!

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