What’s an amiable assassin to do when the woman he loves tries to kill him and the company he’s worked for all his life betrays him? Why, marry that woman and aggressively take over the betraying company, of course. John Lago, the likable assassin from The Intern’s Handbook, is back in Hostile Takeover, by Shane Kuhn. This time John is fighting for a life with Alice while at the same time trying to get Human Resources, Inc., running in his vision. Though things don’t go as smoothly as John would like. Helming HR, Inc. with Alice is troublesome. Alice wants to run things her way while John wants it to go another way. Add to that a mysterious client whom Alice is not willing to reveal to John, and you have trouble in paradise.
Hostile Takeover (HT) is the second book in the John Lago series. I wouldn’t call this a sequel since the story stands on its own and there’s enough background on John and Alice’s past you don’t need to read the first book (though, I highly recommend you do). HT offers more depth into John’s character and is really about John and Alice’s relationship. Running a company is hard enough. Throw your spouse into it and things get downright contentious. John and Alice start things off great and the honeymoon stage is everything John dreamed of. However when John and Alice get started with the business side of their relationship, things go downhill fast. John has a weakness of not taking people out when he should, and that comes back to bite him in the ass in the most inopportune moment. Alice is a cutthroat as ever, as well as a bad-ass who shouldn’t be messed with. John’s got a real battle on his hands this time around.
I’ve read comparisons where Shane Kuhn is said to be in the same vein as Quentin Tarantino in terms of the feel of his books (Dexter is another but I haven’t read/seen either so won’t speak to that). I think Kuhn is more along the lines of Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico). Kuhn’s stories have more substance and intelligence to them than coincidence and luck (Tarantino vs. Rodriguez). HT has a bit of a slower pace than Intern’s Handbook, but the action sequences are well written and easy to visualize. John Lago is a fun and enjoyable character who is determined to find happiness in his life. Kuhn does a good job of tying things up at the end, while also leaving room for future stories to happen.
I highly recommend Hostile Takeover (as well as The Intern’s Handbook). It’s a good, enjoyable read, with a likable main character who is easy to root for.