Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn: A review
Four women in or nearing their sixties have worked since the 1970s as assassins for an international clandestine organization that is never actually named but which they refer to as "The Museum." They are now ready to retire and in celebration of that event, their employing organization has sent them on an all-expenses-paid cruise. When they discover that someone else from that organization is with them on the ship and is traveling clandestinely in disguise, they begin to suspect that the Museum has decided to retire them permanently. Have they really become expendable now that they are of "a certain age"? Now the four must use all their skills to ferret out anyone who is sent to dispose of them and to turn the tables on their would-be killers. That, in a nutshell, is the basis of the plot of Deanna Raybourn's book, Killers of a Certain Age.
The story is told mainly through the point of view of one of the women, named Billie, but we also get some flashbacks of the other women (Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie) and how they each came to be recruited and become a part of this company of assassins. They are each quite extraordinary characters and quite likable despite their deadly profession.
Deanna Raybourn plots her story well and writes an engaging and entertaining tale with a lot of wit and humor. Even though this is a story of assassins, her focus is actually on the friendship of the women and their connections with each other. She also makes a point about the invisibility of older women. Who pays any attention to an old woman poking around a place, maybe even into areas where she has no business going? She's just an old lady after all; what possible harm can she do?
Well, if she's a trained killer - and maybe even if she isn't - old women can definitely be a force to be reckoned with. I appreciate that message that this book delivers with a dry wit, maybe because I am an old woman myself. Readers of a mature age will have no difficulty at all identifying with these characters and cheering them on as they set out to prove that they are still at the top of their game. Those readers will surely want them to prove their point for all of us at "a certain age."