Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn

Hostile TakeoverHostile Takeover

by Shane Kuhn
Series: John Lago Thriller, #2

Hardcover, 246 pg.

Simon & Schuster, 2015

Read: August 24, 2015


John Lago is back, folks — and he picks up right where he left off, with some of the most adrenaline and testosterone-fueled writing you’ll come across this year. That may not be your cup of tea.

Hostile Takeover is one of those sequels I didn’t think needed to exist. Seriously, who was dissatisfied with where things ended up for Lago? It was narratively sufficient as it was — but as the opening lines of this book could’ve literally been the next page in The Intern’s Handbook, it’s hard to complain.

So, John decides to tie up two loose ends: 1. Alice and 2. HR, Inc. He marries Alice and the two take over HR but it doesn’t take too long (at least not many pages) before both of those go wrong — they break up and she kicks him out of the company (not really spoiler material, folks, it’s in the Jacket Copy). John switches to Plan B, the complete destruction of both. Which is not the most mature of plans, you’ve got to admit.

Which is the bulk of the book — John going undercover again, John trying (and/or being the target of) elaborate assassination schemes, great fight scenes and enough munitions used to make Michael Bay choke. All delivered in that movie-obsessed, rapid-fire (no pun intended) narration that won over so many fans before.

I thoroughly enjoyed, have used already, and will continue to do so, Lago’s comments on the movie Fletch. It was that line that reminded me how much I liked the first book.

Did I enjoy this as much as The Intern’s Handbook? Nope. Only because it didn’t blow me away with it’s freshness. But it’s a worthy sequel, as good as it’s predecessor and leaves me wanting more. An intense, fast read — buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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4 Stars

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The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn

The Intern's Handbook: A ThrillerThe Intern’s Handbook: A Thriller

by Shane Kuhn
Series: John Lago Thriller, #1


Hardcover, 276 pg.
Simon & Schuster, 2014
Read: May 5 – 7, 2014

“Interns are invisible. You can tell executives your name a hundred times and they will never remember it because they have no respect for someone at the bottom of the barrel, working for free. The irony is that they will heap important duties on you with total abandon. The more of these duties you voluntarily accept, the more you will get, simultaneously acquiring TRUST AND ACCESS. Ultimately, your target will trust you with his life and that is when you will take it.

So says John Lago, in his unofficial handbook for employees at Human Resources, Inc. — a false front for an organization of hitmen. He Handbook is part memoir, part confessional, part how-to, part the reflections of a professional

Along with nice tidbits like this, we get to see John’s last assignment for HRI — he’s sent in as an intern at a prestigious law firm to identify a shady partner and eliminate him. Having reached the ripe-old age of 25, retirement is looming (hard to believe someone in their late 20s is an intern anywhere), and he’s determined to go out on top. But for the first time in his illustrious career — things don’t go well for John. And when that starts to happen, it goes bad fast and in several different ways.

Bad for John, good for us — because watching him try to navigate out of trouble, while maintaining his cover is a blast. John’s a real professional, and whatever misgivings are starting to creep into his subconscious, his instincts are sound. Alice — initially, a fellow intern and competitor, and eventually, more — isn’t exactly what she seems, but is a fun character no matter what angle on the character we’re seeing. The head of HRI, Bob, is exactly the kind of shady, manipulative scoundrel you’d expect the executive behind an army of paid assassins to be.

By page 3, I’d written in my notes “smart, funny, sharp — if he keeps this up, I’ll be happy.” He did keep it up, and did better, there was an unexpected genuine heart in this book (particularly the last couple of chapters). The voice was fitting (and great) — as a fan of movies like Grosse Pointe Blank and The Whole Nine Yards, John’s less-than-charitable musings on pop culture depictions of his field were quite amusing and had the ring of truth. The action scenes were well-written, you could see everything (usually from the edge of your seat). Recommended.

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4 Stars