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What to Read in March: The Intern’s Handbook – An Adrenaline-Packed Thriller

The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn


Pages: 276

Published: 2014 (paperback edition: 2015)

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Intern’s Handbook (2014) is an adrenaline-packed assassin thriller by Shane Kuhn. It tells the story of a man named John Lago, a hitman who works for a company named Human Resources, Inc., that sends its employees to different firms as interns – the perfect cover, since nobody ever remembers an intern’s name. Taking place in modern day New York, John Lago narrates the story the story of his final assignment at a high-brow law firm, called Bendini, Lambert & Locke, as a guide to beginner assassins, and along with the tricks of the trade he reveals gruesome details of his tragic past as a foster child and his romantic endeavours with a beautiful, outrageous, and witty law firm coworker named Alice.

The action-packed, gory tale unfolds with high velocity, but also takes the reader through more gentle moments – amidst all the gunfights, strategical planning, and unnerving plot-twists, John Lago’s personal feelings and internal struggles with his profession, forbidden romance, and genealogical rootlessness find seamless breathing space. The FBI transcripts placed between chapters as inserts reveal things that the narrator himself seems reluctant to disclose – things that sometimes go directly against his own advice, and add an interesting dimention to Lago’s character and the overall story. Laced with dark humor and erotic undertones, The Intern’s Handbook brings to mind Charles Bukowski’s last novel, the saucy noir thriller Pulp (1994) and is a modern must-read for the fans of the genre.

While the main character disregarding the rules of the assassin trade creates an interesting paradox, sometimes the contradictions between his words and actions make the novel’s universe seem a bit incoherent. These confusing and sometimes plain clumsy inconsistencies stand out in the otherwise immersing hitman tale – but can be easily forgiven, for The Intern’s Handbook is a thoroughly entertaining read and a gripping adventure from start to finish. A must-read for all miserable interns (but don’t get any ideas!)


A 22-year-old anthropology student from Helsinki. Music, photography, and poetry are close to my heart.
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