Publishing Date: September 6, 2022
Welcome to the Killers of a Certain Age book tour with Berkley Publishing Group. (This blog tour post is also posted on my Tumblr book, art, & fandom blog Whimsical Dragonette.)
Older women often feel invisible, but sometimes that’s their secret weapon.
They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.
Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.
When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.
Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Deanna Raybourn is a 6th-generation native Texan. She graduated with a double major in English and history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of one, Raybourn makes her home in Virginia. Her novels have been nominated for numerous awards including two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards, the Agatha, two Dilys Winns, a Last Laugh, three du Mauriers, and most recently the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Novel. She launched a new Victorian mystery series with the 2015 release of A CURIOUS BEGINNING, featuring intrepid butterfly-hunter and amateur sleuth, Veronica Speedwell. Veronica has returned in several more adventures, most recently AN IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSTOR, book seven, which released in early 2022. Deanna’s first contemporary novel, KILLERS OF A CERTAIN AGE, about four female assassins on the cusp of retirement publishes in September 2022.
This book was very good. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never read a Deanna Raybourn book, and I was pleasantly surprised. The story whizzed along at a good clip, the characters were for the most part well-developed and interesting. The pacing was breathless as they raced against time to carry out heists and murder the men who are trying to murder them.
I came to really appreciate Billie, as it was in her POV for the most part, but I did feel that the other three women blurred together a bit and weren’t as distinct as I would have liked.
I very much approve of the casual inclusion of LGBT+ characters and relationships. That always makes a book feel much more friendly, and it was done so naturally that I barely even registered it.
I also really really appreciate that the main characters were ‘women of a certain age’ and (despite being expert assassins) they felt very authentic. There were many mentions of the plans having to be adapted to their older bodies. Despite it, they still kicked ass. They were competent and capable AND dealing with things like hot flashes and muscles and stamina that weren’t what they once were. It made for such a nice contrast to the usual teenagers/twenty-something protagonists I usually read about.
I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like it. There were a few issues I had with it:
The placement of the ‘past’ sections was sometimes jarring and I occasionally got confused about where and when they were. I did become more used to this as I went along, but it took me out of the flow of the story on more than one occasion.
The action scenes – which, to be fair, were a large chunk of the book – were just a tad too clinical. They read almost like newspaper reports. I don’t know if this is just a style common to thrillers – I haven’t read many of them. I feel like the simple language and not-flowery writing are a staple of the genre, but I’m not sure about the descriptions of fight scenes. As the book progressed this bothered me less and less, however, so it might have improved or I might have gotten used to it.
One thing that did bother me consistently through the book was that it was a tad vulgar for my tastes. I do appreciate the bluntness with which things not normally talked about are discussed among the women, but there were so many instances of descriptions of sexual harassment from their targets (which they had to put up with with a smile which definitely made the targets unsympathetic very quickly). Even more off-putting to me (and more common within the story) was the way that the (many) murders were described. Not just how they looked, but how they felt, how they sounded, how they smelled… I get that they are assassins and yes, they do kill a lot of people over the course of the book, but I just didn’t want that much familiarity with the deaths.
I did appreciate the very feminist slant to it all, and the way the men’s casual sexism was used to increase support for the women. Also the way that the four of them used the ‘old women are invisible’ idea to their advantage in order to further their schemes. The story was very compelling and I found it difficult to put down. I would also probably read it again and will definitely be recommending it to others.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an e-arc for review.