Saturday, January 21, 2023

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Title: Killers of a Certain Age
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publication: Penguin, audio, 2022
Narrators: Jane Oppenheimer, Christina Delaine
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present day
Description: Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have been friends and colleagues since their 20s when they first joined a secret organization called “The Museum” and were trained as assassins. Forty years later, they have retired and are enjoying a cruise together when Billie recognizes a former colleague disguised as a member of the crew. She immediately realizes he is there to kill them, although they cannot imagine why. Realizing only the most senior members of their organization could have ordered a hit on them, the women must pool their wits and use their skills to find out why they have been targeted and take down their own erstwhile employer before the contract on their lives is fulfilled.

My Impression: Billie is the self-appointed leader of this group, recruited while in college because her feistiness as a protester aroused admiration. She is the most ingenious, the best prepared for unexpected crises, and also has the best sense of humor. The secret organization for which they have worked originally had the worthy cause of pursuing former Nazis, and trained the four women in the use of weapons, explosives, hand-to-hand combat, and ingenious disguises. However, just as they have aged and retired, the original leaders of the organization are gone, the current management has different objectives, and the women slowly learn they have been framed for breaking the rules – taking freelance assassination assignments, which none have ever done.

Without an HR department to address their grievance and facing extermination by former colleagues, Billie leads her friends in a determined effort to fight back against their own organization. If the world judges them on their age and thinks they are too old to get the job done, they will use their experience and the “invisible” status of women in their 60s to take out their adversaries.
“That’s not a now problem,” I said, reverting to training. It was a reminder to focus on the job at hand and set the priorities where they should be. “Right now, we have to figure out how to dismantle this or how to get everyone off this boat before it blows.”

“Easy,” Nat said, spooning up more of the pudding. “Override code.”

Helen cleared her throat. “Billie removed Fogerty from the equation before we could secure it.”

“How far removed?” asked Mary Alice.

“Completely,” I said.
I had read Silent in the Grave by Raybourn some years ago and found it lacking in originality so did not read more in the series. However, I love a good revenge story so the premise of this book intrigued me and I found it suspenseful and amusing (shout out to my friend Danielle, Raybourn’s former editor who is thanked in the acknowledgments). Flashbacks to Billie’s recruitment, their training in the late 70s and early missions were well done and added dimension to the story, as well as insight on the villains of the story. 
 Each of the friends had distinctly different personality and backstory, although it was still hard to keep them straight, other than Billie and the story required considerable suspension of disbelief.
Killers of a Certain Age was an absorbing audiobook but the problem with e-audio is that they evaporate at the due date and cannot be renewed. Before I was done, mine turned into a pumpkin on Saturday at midnight with a polite message. Luckily, although the book is quite new, I was able to find a copy of the book at the library so I could finish it. This was my second book of the year for Carol’s Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.

Source: Library.


Lisa said...

I have been waiting out a very long library queue to read this, I think I'm finally at number 8. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, I've had some mixed reactions to her books myself.

TracyK said...

This is one I am very eager to read, but I have read both very enthusiastic and very negative opinions on it. So I am glad you read it and liked it and now I will give it a try for sure.

Melwyk said...

I really enjoyed this one, despite not reading any of her earlier ones. I can see this on screen ;)

Cath said...

Yes, I quite liked the book I read by Raybourn, A Curious Beginning. I see this book you've read is a standalone, it sounds like fun so I'll keep an eye out.

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

I'm waiting for the paperback edition to come out!