Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books
Publication date: September 6, 2022
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Suspense, Humor
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
Before I dash into Thanksgiving week, I thought I’d review the kind of novel everyone needs when dealing with too much family togetherness and food. It’s Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn and it is FUN. Which may be an odd word choice for a novel about assassins, but there you have it. Natalie, Billie, Mary Alice, and Helen are all in their sixties and have known each other for over 40 years. They met at a training camp to become killers for an organization known as the Museum. Now it’s time to retire and the company has sent them on a cruise to relax and reconnect. Which is all fine until the ship they’re on is blown up and they narrowly escape with their lives. A phone call to a trusted source confirms someone within the organization has ordered their termination.
Killers of a Certain Age begins in the late 70s with the women being trained to be the first of their kind—an elite squad of female assassins. The Museum is a non-governmental organization founded to hunt Nazis after WWII. It’s has now moved onto to bringing justice to other nefarious individuals like drug cartel leaders, sex traffickers, and dictators. The women have no idea why they’ve been targeted or who ordered it, but they know that the only way out is to go to the top and get answers from the men in charge. Or kill them. Either works.
This is classic spy school meets McGyver reading. Each of the women have a special set—Natalie loves anything noisy, from guns to bombs while Helen is a sharpshooter, Mary Alice is fascinated by poison, and Billie, well, she leads. In addition, the women are schooled to move in any kind of society. They present as the perfect wife, girlfriend or mistress, speaking multiple languages, exquisite manners, educated, charming. But underneath they’re vicious assassins.
The fun lies in the fact these accomplished, wise women are mortal and facing the aging process. Joints ache, eyes don’t see without reading glasses, they’re losing hair and gaining weight. They have every day, normal problems. Not fun, but Natalie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Billie are relatable, even as they’re turning innocuous household or beauty items into weapons. They could be a bridge club, if the cards were coated with a slow-acting poison (my idea, not the book). This clever intersection of brains, age, and the bonds of friendship are the novel’s heart.
Another critical element (at least to this old dame), is how the women turn their supposed weaknesses into strengths. They make their experience work for them while making gender and age stereotypes work against their targets, who vastly underestimate them. This, plus sharp, dry humor and the bonds of friendship make for vastly entertaining reading. The kind where you settle in and enjoy the ride. Look too closely and you might see inconsistencies in the plot, but when a novel engages me this much, I can let them slide. For any reader feeling as if they’ve reached an age of invisibility Killers of a Certain Age is welcome, exuberant reading.
Like to see women ‘of a certain age’ represented in fun fiction? Try Brilliant, a series about a middle-aged jewel thief. Happy reading!
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase of any kind, I get a small commission (at no cost to you).
This does sound fun – I’m sure many patrons will be enjoying this and I’ll try to read it too. Happy Thanksgiving!
The same to you! Stay safe, I hear there’s some dreadful weather headed your way.