Murder Your Employer Book Review

This Book is For Anyone Who’s Ever Had a Bad Boss | Murder Your Employer Book Review

We mean this hypothetically, of course

Bad bosses are pretty common, and this book talks about a fairly uncommon way of handling it.

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If you’ve been in the corporate grind for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the experience of having a less than stellar boss. They could be passive aggressive, have a short fuse, be unwilling to answer questions while still expecting you to know everything, or maybe they’re just downright unpleasant. But have you ever contemplated never having to receive another anxiety-inducing email from them again? If you knew you could get away with it, would you?

This is the fantasy that Rupert Holmes sells you in his crime novel Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide. This book tells the story of a fictional (or at least we certainly hope so) and highly secretive institution that exists to educate its students in the art of murder. From the use of varied weaponry to the basics of poisons and prosthetics, The McMasters Conservatory aims to create the well-rounded “deletist” while also having at least a certain level of plausible deniability. [Read: No, officer, we didn’t instruct them on that in particular – everything we teach is theoretical, therefore we are totally inculpable.]

Told via way of journals and manuals, Holmes weaves a narrative that centers on three different characters – each with their own justifications for wanting to be rid of their respective employers. We are also told at the very start that one of these students fails their assignment, and so the thriller goes into full swing. 

What Makes a Good “Deletist”

The McMasters Conservatory, location unknown, accepts paying (or paid for, in the case of our main character) students and spends at least one semester teaching them various techniques that should enable them to successfully delete their victim. These lessons and workshops culminate in what they refer to as the student’s “thesis” – where they attempt to apply what they’ve learned. Failure is not an option. 

We are introduced to three students, each with a unique bone to pick with their bosses: Cliff Iverson is an engineer whose boss, while also being just a generally nasty person, cut significant corners in an aircraft design that would have undoubtedly endangered the lives of its passengers. Gemma Lindley is being relentlessly blackmailed by her boss into doing all of her work for her without any credit, thereby forced to relive her dark past daily. And finally, actress Dulcie Mown decides to take her fate into her hands when a film executive decides to kill her career out of jealousy and spite. 

From these characters alone, the reader is given related but very different storylines to sink into. Our three students vary greatly in terms of their personality and reasons for murder, and so we are offered different levels of relatability. Each of them is faced with a target that is repulsive for similar but unique reasons as well, and so the reader is made to invest in their downfall. While the characters may or may not be likeable, you want to see just how they manage to pull off their respective theses and sit on the edge of your seat as you try to guess who fails. 

What Makes a “Bad Boss” 

Upon first encountering the book, one might think that the story covers all manners of “deletions” for all different sorts of reasons. As such, it would be an investigation into justice; what it means and how we can find it for ourselves and others. However, The McMasters institute surprisingly has rules about who they believe is fit to be murdered. They ask all prospective students about whether this person’s absence in the world would negatively impact others around them and whether other conflict resolution options are available. This kind of poises the reader to see all our murderers as being in the right, but is that all there is to it? 

Perhaps by preempting the audience’s judgment and positioning our main characters as being justified asks us to question the fallibility of these individuals and rules. After all, our characters act as judge, jury, and executioner all in one – a system that was meant to be designed so you could take a multitude of perspectives into account and not just one. 

At the very least, we are forced to examine within ourselves: When is revenge warranted? How far is too far? Are some people really just owed suffering? And, of course: “I’m totally not going to do it, but if I did hypothetically maybe want to delete my boss, how funny would it be if I did it like *this*?” 

Should you read it? 

Reading level: Medium-High – the frequent use of wordplay and qualifying statements make for narration that is highly witty and entertaining, but perhaps requiring a slightly higher level of concentration than the average leisure read. 

Number of times I smiled/laughed to myself: at least once every two (2) pages

Number of times my jaw literally dropped: at least three (3)

Read this if: you’re okay with graphic depictions of violence, descriptions of people doing awful things to each other, and like seeing evil people get what they deserve.

FUN FACT: The author of this novel also wrote the song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”

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