John Lagos is an assassin. He has been an assassin since he was 12 years old. He is 25 and ready to retire although he is a bit suspicious on what "retire" means in his business and especially to his boss. He works for a mysterious company that specializes in high end assassinations usually putting the hit man into an intern's position at the company where their high profile victims reside. Why interns, you ask? As John Lagos' boss, Bob, states...
"Interns are invisible. You can tell an executive your name a hundred times and that executive will never remember it because they have no respect for someone at the bottom of the barrel, working for free. The rapport they have with their private urinal far exceeds the rapport they will ever have with you."
All this is pretty cynical and John is a cynical man. Having your mother die before he was born, being raised in abusive foster care families and being cared for by a sociopath slightly colors your view on life. John Lagos places that cynicism up front in his manual for future hit men but, being the sociopath he is, he can't help talking about himself...to our delight.
Shane Kuhn's The Intern's Handbook starts out a little normal for a thriller like this. John is trying to get out of the business, he gets one last hit with no clear target, shit hits the fan, and there's a woman involved ready to make life complicated. Sounds like some movies you seen? That's not surprising considering the author is a veteran of the film business. Yet there is enough original twists and turns in this book to make us realize that Kuhn is on to something original. John Lagos may not be the guy you want to have a beer with but there is something sad and redeemable about him, so he is easy to root for despite his profession. His evolution from professional sociopath to ??? is quite believable, thanks to a some nice back story involving his parents. (I'm predicting Bradley Cooper for the main role assuming there ever is a movie) I must admit I felt the intern hook was a little farfetched at first but the author builds us into the idea well and pretty soon I am a believer. There is nice structuring and good overall characterization throughout. (While I'm fantasizing, how about Terry O'Quinn (John Locke from Lost for Bob?). As you can tell from my asides, this book does read like a fast moving thriller and would make for a nifty movie. But as a novel, it may rank as one of 2014's first top notch summer reads. If you like good thrillers that you can immerse yourself in, then The Intern's Handbook comes highly recommended.