Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn is the second thriller in the John Lago series about a professional assassin who works under the guise of the invisible office intern (available July 14, 2015).
In The Intern’s Handbook, the first book in the John Lago series, we were introduced to Human Resources, Inc. – a job placement agency set in New York City that trains young assassins to infiltrate corporations disguised as interns and kill their unsuspecting high-profile targets. John Lago is not only one of these operatives, he’s the best. And he knows it. But one person doesn’t agree – Alice. Unknown to John during most of The Intern’s Handbook, Alice is also an assassin from Human Resources, Inc., and her target was John, who just so happened to be working on what he planned to be his last case. There was only one problem: Bob, the cutthroat boss of Human Resources, Inc., didn’t take kindly to people leaving the business. There were too many loose ends for his liking:
Three years ago, at the ripe old age of twenty-five, I was about to retire. Bob’s philosophy was that anyone accepting an internship past that age would be labeled a slacker by established employees and draw the kind of attention that could jeopardize assignments. Which was fine with me. I was happy to wash my hands of the whole affair, but before I could ride off into the sunset, I had one last job. I should have known not to take it because one last job in the movies is always the first step to total annihilation. In the film Seven, Morgan Freeman takes one last case and ends up in the seventh circle of Hell. Or how about Harrison Ford in Blade Runner? Guy comes out of retirement to bag one last skin job and finds out he’s a skin job! Jesus, I should have seen this coming!
John avoided termination, but he didn’t avoid capture, as all of Hostile Takeover is narrated by John via flashbacks as he recounts his post-Human Resources, Inc. life for Fletch, the Assistant Director of the FBI. This allows Shane Kuhn to continue to narrate his books in the witty, sarcastic tone that let John Lago shine in the debut. After John toys with Fletch for a while, he tells him what he’ll require for full cooperation – they need to bring in Alice so he can have one more conversation with her. You see, Alice just isn’t an assassin who tried to kill John. She’s also his wife.
That’s right. After John and Alice went their separate ways after their beachside shootout in The Intern’s Handbook, John worked hard to track her down, and when he finally did, rather than putting a bullet in her head, he put a ring on her finger. Then, on the night of their wedding, John gives Alice the perfect gift:
I opened her wedding present box and pulled out five shape charges made to look like little wedding cakes and positioned them on the floor.
“John. What are you doing?”
“Sweeping you off your feet.”
“Seriously. What are you doing?”
I stopped and grinned.
“This is your present.”
I pulled two Israeli Special Forces X95 SMGs with integrated silences (something borrowed) out of the wedding box, slapped thirty-round 9 mm mags into each and handed one to her.
“It’s beautiful, honey, but have you lost your mind?”
“No. You’re going to love this. Trust me.”
I pulled her close to me and started strapping weaponry to her body with a custom leather holstering harness I’d had made at Hermes.
“Okay, now you’re making me hot.”
“Save it for later. We need to focus.”
I geared myself up.
“How many?” she asked.
“At least a dozen. Maybe more,” I said, smiling.
“Who are they?”
“Do you want me to ruin the surprise?” I asked.
“Good. Now stand next to me here.”
I pulled her close to me in the middle of the circle created by the wedding cake-shape charges.
“Maybe I should change. I don’t want to get my dress dirty.”
“Getting the dress dirty is the whole point, love muffin.”
“You’re a sick man, John.”
“I know. Isn’t it great?”
“Close your eyes.”
She did and we kissed. Then she opened them again.
“Can I have a little hint?” she asked, batting her eyelashes.
“The CEO of Human Resources, Incorporated,” I answered casually and blew the shape of the charges.
The circular piece of floor we had been standing on broke away and we dropped through the ceiling into another palatial suite directly below us. As we smashed into the floor and rolled to cover, bullets were already flying. It turned out that I had slightly miscalculated. There weren’t a dozen armed men in there. There were two dozen.
Till death do us part.
Together, John and Alice manage to take over Human Resources, Inc., and they split the duties evenly. John handles training the new recruits and takes a liking to one boy in particular, Sue. (Yep, his deadbeat dad was indeed a fan of Johnny Cash.) Alice takes over the business end of the company, making sure targets keep coming in for the recruits to kill. Things go well at first, but just like the life of a young assassin, John and Alice’s relationship does not have a long lifespan. Citing “conflicting management styles,” an ugly breakup ensues, and not only does John find himself locked out of the bedroom, but also the boardroom.
It’ll be a steep trip back to the top, and like anyone who’s ever ridden the corporate elevator knows, you don’t get to the penthouse without first starting in the basement.
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Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
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