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The Intern's Handbook: A Thriller Hardcover – April 8, 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 277 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Assassins must be invisible. And who is more invisible in corporate America than unpaid interns? That’s the premise behind Human Resources, Inc., whose founder, Bob, trains children who are society’s discards to be canny killers. HR’s elite is John Lago, delivered prematurely, without much of a chance in life after his druggie mother was shot and died. At eight, he murdered his abusive foster parents, and when he was 12, he was recruited by Bob. Nearing HR’s mandatory retirement age of 25, John gets his last assignment, to eliminate the person at prestigious law firm Bendini, Lambert, and Locke who’s selling the names of people in the witness-protection program. John intends to use Alice, a new associate at the firm, to help him gain the necessary trust and access, but he doesn’t count on previously dead emotions flaring up and derailing the job at hand. Written as John’s handbook of advice for new HR recruits, with interspersed FBI memos, Kuhn’s debut is a prime example of dark and mordant humor in the midst of a fast-moving, suspenseful, action-packed ride. Those who like Dexter will love John. --Michele Leber


“All of the testosterone-bloated wisdom of Tucker Max mixed with the satire of American Psycho.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A sexy, darkly comic thriller with cinematic flourishes… Explosively violent and psychologically wily the way a good thriller should be.” (New York Daily News)

“This Handbook was made for the multiplex. . . . Faceless and forgettable, an intern's as invisible as a ninja in fluorescent lights—and, at least in John Lago's case, just as deadly.” (NPR.org)

“Imagine Dexter working in The Office." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

“Once I started reading The Intern’s Handbook, I had a hard time putting it down. Over the course of three days, I spent any spare moment I had immersed in the book. The wit and humor had me laughing out loud at times; the twists and turns in the plot kept me wondering what was going to happen next.” (The Coloradoan)

“Just the kind of book we love to read. . . . On our short list for best debut of the year.” (Crimespreemag.com)

“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.” (ShelfAwareness.com)

“Black humor and surprise twists distinguish Kuhn’s highly entertaining debut, which puts a fresh spin on the theme of the hardened criminal planning one last job. . . . Not least of the charms of this likable and energetic, if amoral, character are the amusing swipes he takes at other killers in fiction and film.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Kuhn’s debut is a prime example of dark and mordant humor in the midst of a fast-moving, suspenseful, action-packed ride. Those who like Dexter will love John Lago.” (Booklist)

“A propulsive, well-written black comedy. . . . Believable dialogue, a whip smart and cynical central character, clever reversals and an entertaining amount of bone-crunching violence help wrap up this nasty package with a pretty little bow. An entertaining, ferociously violent romp about a morally bankrupt killer trying to find his way home.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Intern's Handbook is Tarantino funny and as tense as a Mexican standoff.
Shane Kuhn has written a movie lover’s thriller that’s as entertaining as it is smart.” (Andrew Pyper, bestselling author of The Demonologist)

"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. Shane Kuhn’s debut thriller crackles with dark humor, pyrotechnic action scenes and twists you’ll never see coming. Just like the intern who’s getting ready to snuff you out." (Lisa Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of The Spellman Files)

“Being bad is seldom this good. Mercilessly entertaining.” (Christopher Brookmyre, bestselling author of Where the Bodies Are Buried)

“Dark, assured and utterly thrilling. Makes Grosse Pointe Blank look like Goodbye Mr. Chips.” (John Niven, bestselling author of Kill Your Friends and Straight White Male)

“An immersive literary experience.” (Vogue UK)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476733805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476733807
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on February 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
John Lago is an assassin for hire, working for a man named Bob. His job is to infiltrate large organizations as a lowly unpaid intern, develop trust in this almost invisible role, and kill some high-level executive. As he gets started on his last case, before mandatory "retirement" at age 25, he leaves a memoir and pointers for the "interns" who will come after him. He's very, very good at what he does, but in this case he makes some major mistakes. For one thing he develops some human emotions, a bad thing in this line of work.

Of course, John is a classic psychopath without a trace of normal feeling or empathy, but all this is about to change as his path crosses that of Alice, the very hot and very savvy lawyer who works with him. And then there is Marcus, the biological father he manages to track down and actually form a relationship with. He starts to make mistakes, and things begin careening out of control. Will John be able to pull off one last assassination? Will he be able to retire? Will he even survive? I won't tell you, of course, so you'll have to read this novel for yourself. You will love it.

Author Shane Kuhn writes brilliantly, with a wickedly dark sense of humor. He has created a marvelous spoof of every violent, testosterone-drenched novel and movie you've ever encountered. None of this stuff could possibly happen, but still you'll keep turning pages, shuddering and laughing at the same time. I think author Kuhn may have invented a new genre--the black spoof we might call it--and he has certainly given a new meaning to the term "intern." Warning--if graphic violence turns you off, you might think twice about reading this one. If not, get hold of it as soon as you can. I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The high concept is appealing. Orphans are trained from childhood to be assassins. They and their boss, Bob, are employed by HR, Inc., whose personnel masquerade as interns so that they can gain access to their important targets, using the virtual invisibility of the intern.

John Lago, 25, is sent to the most powerful law firm in New York to kill whichever of the name partners is selling out members of the Witness Protection program to the highest bidder. Lago is a veteran--since anybody older than mid-20s being an unpaid intern would be conspicuous--and this is to be his last job before retirement. The book takes the form of Lago's first-person narrative, told as if he is providing the benefit of his wisdom to trainees at HR.

Since author Kuhn is a screenwriter, he must be familiar with Grosse Pointe Blank and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now there were a couple of movies that made hired killers appealing, and wildly violent scenes fresh, thrilling and funny. Kuhn doesn't manage either here. Though Kuhn tries to humanize Lago with some personal stories and a love for movies, he doesn't pull it off; you never get a real feel for the character.

The plot is a revolving door of wisecracking dialogue, followed by a scene of orgiastic violence, followed by a reminiscence of Lago's earlier life, followed by a description of the setup for the latest job. It's fun the first time, but the repeats become less and less interesting until the book becomes a chore to read. The tone is all over the place, too.

On top of that, Shane Kuhn clearly knows nothing whatsoever about how law firms work. He has John Lago bone up on wills and *torts* for his internship, and the man in charge of the firm's internship program is a walking violation of the anti-discrimination handbook.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read the synopsis for "The Intern's Handbook" by Shane Kuhn, out loud, to a coworker, I loved the idea more and more with each sentence. And she thought it was the stupidest thing she had ever heard. Well, it turns out she was 100% wrong.

John Lago works for HR, Inc., an organization that places interns, who are actually hit men, at corporations so they can get close to their targets. Why interns? Because nobody remembers an intern's name, but they are given access to everything, eventually. Lago's last job before his mandatory retirement at age 25 will also be his most dangerous and most complicated.

The book's format is laid out with an introductory letter from the FBI alerting the recipients that an arrest warrant has been issued for Lago, and that they have intercepted Lago's manuscript which he intended to go to some of the newly recruited hit men at HR, Inc., as a guide and warning. The rest of the book is Lago's manuscript interrupted occasionally by transcripts from FBI wiretaps (which smartly fill in some details that Lago glossed over).

Kuhn's background is in film, so I was pleasantly surprised by the writing in "The Intern's Handbook." The first person confessional style really lets you get in Lago's head, and it avoids feeling anything like a script. Lago's character starts out as emotionless, but as things get going, and we learn more about him, a more complete character emerges.

There are many references to movies and how all the junk you see in them about hit men is way off the mark and could never happen in real life. This lets Kuhn poke fun at those movies while creating a number of his own over-the-top events and unbelievable coincidences.
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