The Intern's Handbook

Shane Kuhn's debut novel may have an innocuous title, but the titular instruction manual is far from toothless. The handbook is written by John Lago for the new employees at Human Resources, Inc., a placement agency for assassins who pretend to be interns in order to infiltrate major corporations and eliminate targets. John is about to turn 25, forced retirement age for  HR employees--any older and the interns would draw attention. He wants to pass on his knowledge and survival skills so the new recruits can avoid the "all-inclusive interrogation and torture package" at Guantanamo Bay. He details his final assignment, which he initially worried wasn't a challenging-enough swan song. He was all kinds of wrong.

John is an appealing narrator, a hit man with his own code of honor about collateral damage that sometimes puts him at odds with his elusive boss, Bob, who may or may not have John's best interests in mind. Fans of Duane Swierczynski's Charlie Hardie trilogy and Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper should enjoy this witty, deadly thriller. The pace may induce whiplash and some of the action is over the top; that's easily overlooked because the darkly comic story is so fun and w(h)acky. Just when John thinks he knows where his last job is headed, it jinks in an unexpected direction. The biggest surprise (for both the near-retiree and readers) is how affecting the journey turns out to be. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

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