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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Order the book HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Intern's Handbook 
Read Qwill’s interview with Shane Kuhn

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Shane Kuhn is a writer and filmmaker with twenty years of experience working in the entertainment business and the ad world. A shameless product pusher in the ad world, he has worked as a copywriter, creative director, and broadcast video director and producer for several notable brands and charitable organizations. As a college baseball player, he threw a fastball in the low 90s but his career was cut short by a Bull Durham strike zone. He currently lives with his wife and family in a bi-coastal/mountain migration pattern that includes Massachusetts, Colorado, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Professional assassin John Lago faces off against his deadliest adversary yet—his wife—in Hostile Takeover, the exciting sequel to Shane Kuhn’s bestselling debut The Intern’s Handbook, which the New York Post called “a sexy, darkly comic thriller.”

At the end of The Intern’s Handbook, John tracks down his nemesis Alice but instead of putting a bullet in her head, he puts a ring on her finger and marries her. Together, they execute a hostile takeover of Human Resources, Inc., the “placement agency” that trains young assassins to infiltrate corporations disguised as interns and knock off high profile targets. As HR’s former top operatives, they are successful until conflicting management styles cause an ugly breakup that locks John out of the bedroom and the boardroom.

But when Alice takes on a new HR target, John is forced to return to the office battlefield in a role he swore he would never play again: the intern. What starts out as a deadly showdown turns into the two of them fighting side by side to save HR, Inc.—and their marriage.

“Those who like Dexter will love John Lago” (Booklist), and in Shane Kuhn’s sequel to The Intern’s Handbook, readers will be rooting for this smart, witty antihero to come out on top

CLASSIFICATION: Lisa Lutz aptly described it as “The Intern's Handbook is Dexter meets Office Space—the blackest and goriest office comedy you could imagine, with an intern-slash-assassin in the starring role.”

FORMAT/INFO: Hostile Takeover is 256 pages long divided over fifty-five numbered chapters along with a prologue and epilogue. Narration is in the first person solely via John Lago. This is book two of the John Lago series.

July 14, 2015 marked the hardback and e-book publication of Hostile Takeover via Simon and Schuster. It was also published as Shoot The Messenger on July 14, 2015 in the UK by  an imprint of Little Brown.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I was thoroughly enamored by The Intern’s Handbook as it combined action, intricate plot twists and showed a super slice of dark humor that befit a story of a hitman for hire. We got to learn about John Lago and his initiation into HR, Inc. The story involved one last job before John retires however the story with all its twists and action-packed climax wowed me completely. The story ended on a couple of massive twists and the ending basically begs the reader to grab the sequel.

Hostile Takeover begins with John Lago surprisingly in a holding cell in Quantico, Virginia in the present day. The story then goes back to three years to that night wherein The Intern’s Handbook ended so precariously. We get to see what happens next and going with the tone of the preceding novel, it seems completely appropriate. We find that Alice and John have decided to get hitched and take over HR, Inc. They do manage to take over after getting rid of the new “Bob” and find themselves with a gaggle of “Interns” who are awed by John.

They (the interns) having read John’s work, look up to him and soon John & Alice have things going top-notch. The only issue, there might be a mole and John still doesn’t know who truly controls HR. It will be up to both these psychopaths to add their mental muscle along with their killing finesse to figure out the answers. The only problem, can they survive each other’s love? I enjoyed this sequel as I was expecting more of the kickass humor along with dark, action-packed plot. The story does seem to build on the story that was introduced and this time around, the thrill is finding out what exactly happened for John to land up in the FBI’s clutches. The story from its start has a streamlined structure that makes the reader zip through the story. Plus the action and intrigue are present and doubled due to certain happenings in the story.

However this sequel certainly doesn’t quite hold up to the excellence that was The Intern’s Handbook. One thing that went against it is the dark humour and the snappy quotes that were such a core part of The Intern’s Handbook. This book while being a fun sequel plays a little differently and is more like a straight thriller. The plot twists in this one while being zany aren’t entirely unpredictable. The middle part of the story went through a predictable route with regards to Alice and John and again in the ending. The twist that the plot hinges upon isn’t entirely believable and hence that dulled the read for me.

CONCLUSION: Hostile Takeover is a fun sequel that tries to build up on the predecessor and while it had its good moments, for me it was a good book that didn’t quite match the high of The Intern’s Handbook. You’ll enjoy it if you go in with an open mind and don’t expect too much.



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