Sent to me by Sphere in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 23/02/17
Format: Paperback, 400pp
Summed up in a word: Security
I was impressed with Kill Your Boss and could not wait to delve back into Shane Kuhn’s work. The Asset had me worried… The first act was not really grabbing me and I was made to wonder if KYB was a one hit wonder. Luckily the second act picked up and I was starting to really enjoy the plot and characters. The third act, in my opinion, was amazing and I was over the moon, when Shane Kuhn deals with thrills and bold plot lines, he is an artist. Overall I felt the writing was a bit safe, but that could be because of the subject matter. I will go into more depth in my full review, please go check that out below!
In the dream, Belle was always the same age as when she died…
Fourteen years ago, the final words Kennedy ever spoke to his sister were in anger. That day was September 11th 2001, and Belle died when her plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Since then, Kennedy has dedicated his life to airline security. He knows more about planes than the airport authority, a fact which doesn’t go unnoticed by the CIA. After kidnapping him, Kennedy is inducted by the Agency into a programme called Red Carpet.
Now Kennedy is a civilian asset, an ordinary man working with extraordinary people to stop the world collapsing around him, just as it did for his sister so many years before.
The Asset is a novel centred around large scale terrorism. There are whispers of an attack and after 9/11, the US are highly focused on quick and effective counter-terrorism tactics. Shane Kaun has given us a realistic vision of today’s airline security from technology to human behaviour. The Asset is thrilling, action-packed and filled to the brim with risk and espionage. Kaun also uses thoughtful and meaningful plot points to craft a story about a man who wants to protect his country and the memory of his sister.
Kennedy is an Aviation Security Specialist who is focused on analysis, behaviour and surveillance. After losing his sister in the 9/11 terror attacks, he dedicated his life to making sure that nothing like that would ever happen again. During a routine excursion training up airline staff and checking up on security due to vague threats of a huge attack, Kennedy is kidnapped. After managing to escape the armed men, Kennedy finds out that this hostage situation is the CIA’s invitation into a secret group called the Red Carpet. The terror threats are very real and the group need Kennedy’s knowledge and training to figure out where the strike may be happening.
The plot covers a lot of ground. The novel is split into three distinct acts and each one is better than the last. I found the first act to be somewhat flat and difficult to digest. After the explosive and addictive Kill Your Boss, it was strange to be reading Kaun more thought-provoking writing. The first act gives us insight into Kennedy, his family and why he does what he does. It focuses on airport security, bureaucracy, technology and analysis. I found that, though it was a chilling look behind the curtain of security, it was rather tame and not very exciting. That all changes in the second/third acts though. Once Kennedy meets the Red Carpet, a CIA unit focused on terrorism, and his fears are confirmed, the heat gets turned up.
The larger portion of the book is all threats and thrills. I was amazed but the boldness of the plot and it really worked for me. I enjoyed the characters the most. Kaun takes care to make each of his characters unique. Every key character brings something to the overall feel of the novel; but the star is definitely Kennedy. Kennedy is a brilliantly nuanced main character. He has so many sides to him, from gentle brother, heroic protector and intelligent adviser to arse kicker, skilled tactician and (sometimes) a bit of a loner… The secondary characters like Love, Nuri, Juarez and Best all captured my attention in a good way. Even the (almost) faceless villain is smart, crafty and violent on an epic scale.
As with all books there are thrilling parts, nice parts and (at times) boring parts. Luckily Shane Kaun pulled it off with his descriptive, imaginative and harsh writing style. There so many themes scattered through this novel that there is something for everyone. Themes like action, risk, terrorism and espionage. Other themes like love, guilt, recompense and anxiety too. SK has mixed it all together to create a well rounded thriller that actually had me on the edge of my seat. I have given The Asset 4/5 stars because, though starting on shaky ground, I was compelled to read it through to its explosive conclusion. I am 2/2 with SK novels, I hope the 3rd one I read is just as good.
About Shane Kuhn
Shane Kuhn is a writer and filmmaker with twenty years of experience working in the entertainment business and the ad world. In feature film, he has written screenplays for Universal, Paramount, Sony, and Fox, and he has written and directed a film for Lionsgate. In the world of independent film, he is one of the four original founders of the Slamdance Film Festival and currently serves as an Executive Board member of Slamdance, Inc. A shameless product pusher in the ad world, he has worked as a copywriter, creative director, and broadcast video director and producer for several notable brands. Throughout his life, writing has been his shrink, priest, whore and best mate.