‘Killers of a Certain Age’ by Deanna Raybourn is humorous, thrilling, and written for a woman like me

I love the concept of “Killers of a Certain Age,” perhaps because I am “of a certain age.” Deanna Raybourn certainly writes authentically about women in their 60s and these particular women who have been assassins for decades, working for an organization nicknamed “The Museum.” Their job has been killing bad guys, beginning with Nazi escapees; then when those were mostly dead either from natural causes or murder, assassinating drug overlords, crime bosses, and other really bad people. Now the four women, who trained together in their 20s, are taking the first steps toward enjoying a well-deserved retirement by embarking on an all-expense-paid cruise courtesy of their former employer. But what happens when they realize, on that very cruise, that instead of the cruise being the beginning of the rest of their lives, it’s intended to be the end of their lives?

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have been killers for over 40 years, and while their reflexes might be a bit slower than when they were younger, with age comes wisdom, and experience. The men on the board of directors, those targeting the women for reasons they can’t understand, have seriously underestimated the capabilities of these women. Isn’t that the way it often is with men? Along with Mary Alice’s wife and Minka, the young woman who Billie has taken under her wing and who excels at creating fake documents, they are willing to fight for their lives using every method they’ve been taught.

Raybourn’s writing is exquisite as she takes us back and forth from the perilous present to their provocative past, where we see how the women were recruited and what they did on some important jobs. Cleverly, the past is written in third person narrative while the present is Billie’s first person narrative. We begin with an assassination from the past involving the four women and two of the men who will be important in the present-day story. From the start, Raybourn’s writing makes us smile as she humorously depicts the at-times bloody descriptions of the women wreaking death on unsuspecting people, usually men. Because men underestimate women all the time.

But we see that teamwork and dedication to justice can overcome even substantial odds, and if anyone is going to get the best of those out to kill them, it’s these four indomitable ladies. Sometimes a book is just such an enjoyable read that it’s delightful escapism. This novel is one such read—thrilling but equally fun.

This review, in slightly abbreviated format, was first posted on Bookreporter.com.