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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Intern's Handbook: A Clever Premise.

Summary: Wait for the movie. The book's promising premise and some tantalizing bits of humor and cleverness are sunk by overwhelming violence.

Shane Kuhn, the 46-year-old author of The Intern's Handbook, directs corporate events, sells ideas for screenplays, and writes B-movies such as Scorpion King-3 and Dead in Tombstone. Kuhn has already sold the publishing rights to develop The Intern's Handbook for movies and television, according to John Wenzel writing for the Denver Post (May 8, 2014). With this background, you will not be at all surprised to know that his novel reads like a product created precisely for translation into a movie.

In The Intern's Handbook, John Lago is undertaking his last job for his employer, Human Resources, Inc. Human Resources, Inc. is an organization of murderers for hire. It places its people - young, highly trained assassins - in positions as interns at companies where it has been contracted to kill an executive. Because interns don't draw attention in large organizations and have a great deal of access to information and physical proximity to the targeted executives, they are highly successful criminals.

Lago, at age 25, is now looking too old to present himself credibly as an intern. On his way out the door, he begins writing a manual for his younger colleagues, the handbook referenced in the book's title. While the bulk of his writing concerns his present assignment, which is to kill an attorney at a large, prestigious law firm, there are flashbacks to his other jobs (violent) and his past (grim). A grim and violent plot needs to be well supported by additional elements to make reading it engaging. This story relied on wit and clever observations to provide that support. For me, although the book began with some of that necessary sparkle, it too quickly disappeared and the book went quickly from an entertaining read to just okay.

Author Shane Kuhn's writing experience is in the movies and The Intern's Handbook may indeed work better if it is translated onto film. While waiting for that to happen, if you are looking to read an exciting book about a hitman, check out Josh Bazell's novel, Beat the Reaper; it is terrific.