Jul 9 2015 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn

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.

“No, darling.”

“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.

See more new releases at our Fresh Meat feature page.

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This sweepstakes has ended. Thanks for entering!

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Shane Kuhn's Hostile Takeover and get inside the twisted mind of John Lago!

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TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Hostile Takeover Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 9, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 3:29 p.m. ET July 16, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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.

Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. DebP
Not much to say - I just really want to read it.
george ashmore
3. gtashmore
I loved the Intern's Handbook--will love this as well
4. maryc
Sounds like a very interesting marriage.
Sally Schmidt
6. bigcootie
Oh I need this! Thanks for the giveaway.
9. Nate Baustad
Love the cover and would love to read it
10. bill norris
the cover is awesome and the story sounds cool as well.
11. Linda Wilkins
Sounds right up my alley!
erica woods
12. bejaermi
This sounds totally hot! I definitely want to read this!
Linda Leonard
13. linsleo1
Like the story line. Would really enjoy reading! Thanks for the opportunity!!
Sharon Kaminski
14. casaflamingos
I am an avid reader and would love to read this book!
Andra Dalton
17. andra77
Definitely count me in!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)
Jeffrey Malis
19. bravejam
I enjoyed The Intern's Handbook immensely and am looking forward to continuing to follow the series... Thank you for the article and the opportunity!
Betty Ramsey
23. beedyr
sounds really intrigueing...I'm in!
27. Cathleen Mingolello
Sounds divine!!
Shari Klyn
28. bookluvr
I would love to read Hostile Takeover. Hope you have a wonderful week!
Patricia Hill
31. plhill2000
This looks like something I would really like to read
Irene Menge
33. Goldenmane
Assassins as heroes? Interesting. Would love to read this.
Russell Moore
35. russrpm
Nice. Looking forward to reading it.
Wilifred Alire
38. walire
I haven't read this author before. Even if I don't win, I'll check out his previous work.
Sue Leonhardt
44. coccotoro
Love reading Suspense thrillers, and this one looks like a winner! Love to read it.
Joyce Mitchell
45. JoyceLm
Interesting concept - thanks for the chance to win.
pearl berger
46. beach
Captivating and intriguing. Thanks.
Michael Carter
48. rubydog
Looks great!
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks --
49. SallyW
This will be a new series for me, looking forward to reading both books.
Lori Provenzano
52. Mountainesque
This does sound like a good escapist jaunt!
Susan Pertierra
53. orchidlady01
I'd want to read The intern's Handbook first if I won this. They both sound interesting!
56. aimeed
Sounds like a great read!
Laurence Coven
57. Holmes
Could be in the style of Joseph Finder thrillers
Aaron Shapiro
58. shappiesweep
Thanks for this chance, sounds like a good read.
Louis Burklow
59. Nash62
Not sure if I'm happy about this book - it may give HR types some bad ideas. Still, I'd like to read it.
62. Stephanie torres
Sounds intriguing.
65. dahlenw
Can't wait to read it!
Susan Wasson
66. booksellersaw
A "Twisted Mind" is right, but what fun it is to read the dialogue!
Thanks for the laugh.
Esther Whatley
68. ewhatley
There's a lot of good buzz about this book. Would love to win a copy.
Buddy Garrett
73. garrettsambo
I wamt to reaad it. It sounds like a great thriller.
Jim Belcher
75. librarypops
Bullets, brides, and blasts. How can it not be good.
Kimberly Hilbert
78. asketcher2
This looks like a cool book. I'd love to win it.
80. Robby Rob
just like Johnny 5, i love to read! More input! would love to read this one
82. LabRat517
Love the excerpt. Also I love that this is book 2 of a series that I haven't read yet. Few things are better in life than finding a new series.
Cindy Hipolito
84. mysuccess
Thanks you for the giveaway. Count me in!
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