This originally appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Shane Kuhn’s The Intern’s Handbook 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 to infiltrate major corporations and eliminate targets. Lago is about to turn twenty-five, forced retirement age for HR, Inc. employees; any older and the interns would draw attention. Lago 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 does this by detailing his final assignment, which he initially worried wasn’t challenging enough to be his swan song but it turned out to be all kinds of wrong.
Lago 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 Lago’s best interests in mind. Fans of Duane Swierczynski’s Charlie Hardie trilogy and Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper should enjoy this witty but deadly thriller. The pace may induce whiplash and some of the action is way over the top, but that’s what makes the story so fun and w(h)acky. Just when Lago thinks he knows where his last job is headed, it jinks in an unexpected direction, with the biggest surprise for him and readers being how affecting the journey is.
Nerd verdict: Wild and thrilling Handbook