This weekend I read The Intern’s Handbook and Hostile Takeover by Shane Kuhn, and Glow by Ned Beauman. They made for a fun weekend, indoors, as I have been avoiding the heat wave outside. 96 degrees! Impossible.
Shane Kuhn is in show business, apparently, which makes sense. The premise of the novels is a corporation that provides assassins under the guise of interns, because nobody notices the intern, right? This conceit automatically caps the age of the assassins; the narrator of both novels is John Lago, an intern-assassin on the cusp of retirement, who writes a helpful little handbook for the incoming recruits.
The narrative voice is unique–Holden Caulfield, jumped up on meth, and armed to the teeth. Mostly entertaining throughout The Intern’s Handbook, the voice grated on me more and more during Hostile Takeover. I definitely did not mind the over-the-top carnage, as it played cartoonish and rather Jackie Chan Goes Hollywood on my inner screen. Oh, and the very elaborate cross, double-cross, and triple-cross twists also start to wear a little.
I had this last issue with Glow, in a way, as well, although the twists were a bit more realistic. Still, there were a lot of twists and turns and plots, ranging across decades and countries, and after a bit one begins to wonder: how much is this actually necessary? If I skip the next couple of pages of backstory, will I miss anything important? The answer is, unfortunately, no. Also, not as deeply meaningful as the author was probably going for. In order to have a big theme, I think, a writer has to edit. If one keeps throwing ingredients into the pot, eventually it’s just leftovers.
Still, I liked the characters of Raf and his friend Isaac; their commitment to doing as many drugs as possible without permanent damage; and the setting of London. I’ve never been, so I have no idea how realistic is his portrayal of the city, but apparently Beauman was born in London, so I’ll take his words at face value.
In sum: all three were fun, and perfectly suitable fast reads, with variable levels of sex, violence, drugs, and music.