Never trust anyone under the age of 25: That cute-as-a-button intern just might be trying to blow your brains out.
Couched as a piece of evidence in an FBI investigation, this debut novel by B-movie screenwriter Kuhn is an inventive, profane and violent comedy that strongly recalls Duane Swierczynski’s office farce Severance Package (2008). The narrative is disguised as an assassination manual written by one John Lago, the real purpose of which is to confess his sins. Creeping up on his 25th birthday, John is a long-time employee of Human Resources, Inc., a shadowy firm that employs broken youngsters and soul-damaged orphans as assassins. Their gig is to infiltrate the highest levels of corporate malfeasance as interns, disappear into the machine and whack the target. “If you’re going to do this, you can’t ever try to justify it,” Lago warns. “You are the bad guy, and that is your role. Without you, there is no benchmark for judging bad guys. We are the yin. Civilians are the yang.” It turns out that John’s last assignment from his boss, “Bob,” just before mandatory retirement kicks in, is to infiltrate an exclusive law firm and ferret out which of the three partners is selling the identities of turncoats in the Federal Witness Protection Program to the highest bidder. Along the way, he falls madly in love with Alice, an entry-level associate who may also have other motives for working at the firm. It’s a propulsive, well-written black comedy that apes a variety of other killer comedies, ranging from Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper to the film Grosse Pointe Blank, while also exploring tender subjects like what happens to children who are raised without parents. Believable dialogue, a whip smart and cynical central character, clever reversals and an entertaining amount of bone-crunching violence help wrap up this nasty package with a pretty little bow.
An entertaining, ferociously violent romp about a morally bankrupt killer trying to find his way home.