Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn

HostileTakeoverWhat’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? the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015Why, 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.


The Intern’s Handbook – Be warned, the intern is out to get you!

Interns aren’t really interns.  They are working as such to hide their real job of being deadly, trained assassins.  Yup that’s right – that intern who doesn’t say much and kind of keeps to himself, he’s killed a whole bunch of people and is plotting to add one more body to his list.  So watch out before he unleashes his skills upon you!

That’s what Shane Kuhn would have you believe in his book The Intern’s Handbook – a humorous, witty, fast paced, and slightly emotional read that I really enjoyed.  John Lago who works for HR, Inc., a placement agency that secretly places assassins posing as interns, is set to work on his last job.  He’s hit 25 and the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-buttonin the intern world, 25 is old.  John’s last job is with one of New York’s most prestigious law firms and John needs to work his way up the ladder as fast as possible in order to filter out his main target from the top three partners in the firm.  As a parting gift, John has decided to leave his future fellow interns a handbook on how to be as successful as he’s been. Definitely not a run of the mill type of handbook, this one is far more interesting.

Lago provides a number of rules throughout the handbook – #3 Go Postal, #8 Jump, #13 Everything is a Weapon – and the back story to the rule.  The back stories are tales of prior hits and Lago’s overall bad-assedness.  Lago’s targets are all “really bad people” – human traffickers, sellers of witness protection lists, etc. – which makes him seem more of a sympathetic character.  John also gets involved with a coworker whom he comes to find out is also doing some pretending.

There are some unexpected twists towards the end of the book that gave the story that emotional jolt.  Overall a very enjoyable read – especially if you like your assassins to be on the likable side and to have a bit of a human element to them.  Not a deep book by any means, but one that I would recommend if you want a fun read.