Killers of a Certain Age
Grade : B

Killers of a Certain Age is a hilarious romp through the adventures of menopausal hitwomen, but while I loved the action the book fell a bit short on depth.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie are an all-female hit squad for the Museum, and have worked together for the past forty years. The Museum is a mysterious extra-governmental entity ordering hits on Nazis and other evildoers since the 1940s, and these women have been proud and successful members of the organization for all of their careers. As they turn sisty, the Sphinxes (their code name) prepare for a comfortable retirement with the healthy pensions they've earned over the years of service. To celebrate this event, the Museum sends the women off on an all-expenses-paid cruise (which I know sounds like my dream for the start of retirement!).

Unfortunately, the luxury vacation is too good to be true, and Billie catches wind of a plan to assassinate all four women on the ship. Working together, the friends suss out who is trying to kill them and why, and then enact their own revenge. Anyone who dares to underestimate or overlook the Sphinxes has another think coming.

As you can no doubt imagine from this simple description, this book is filled with entertaining action and adventure. Foreign locations, unexpected villains, inside jokes, and many, many inventive ways to kill all make for a good read. Murder by mudwrap and the Menopause app were two of my favorite moments which made me actually laugh out loud.

But while the action is thrilling and the pacing is spot-on, the one thing this book misses out on is depth, which I think is in large part due to the narrator, Billie. While she clearly has a strong bond with each of the other women, Billie tends to see the world in simplified terms. Killing people is just a job. Sometimes justice demands that people die. Billie isn't heartless or sociopathic, but she does sleep far too easily at night. This is both a blessing and a curse for her as a narrator, as Billie's tone keeps the book feeling light and fun although the subject matter is really pretty dark and vengeful.

If pressed to think of the best way to tell a story about hitwomen that I would enjoy, Killers of a Certain Age would be it. it's a funny and fresh take on the world of political assassination, and the levity in Billie's tone is somewhat offset by the struggles of Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie. Each of the other women is an interesting and well-written character in her own right, and they all have conflict with their partners and their consciences which seem to represent real, normal life in contrast to Billie's relatively guiltless and rudderless existence. These elements, along with the reappearance of Billie's own lost love, keep the book from seeming too casual and balance out the action plot very well.

So I must applaud Deanna Raybourn for writing the exact type of book I would enjoy about hitwomen… if I enjoyed books about hitwomen. But it turns out that I simply didn't like the subject of endless murder as much as I thought I would. Using Billie as a light-hearted narrator is really the only way to make a book like this fun, but I still found myself wanting more depth and nuance when discussing so much murder. I'm a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn and I can attest that she executed this book (sorry, I couldn't resist!) with her signature style and skill. But I think I will stick to her Veronica Speedwell and Lady Julia Grey books in the future.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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Reviewed by Alexandra Anderson
Grade : B
Book Type: Women's Fiction

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : September 6, 2022

Publication Date: 09/2022

Review Tags: thriller

Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

Alexandra Anderson

College student by day. Book enthusiast around the clock. With any luck I'll eventually be able to afford food AND books. But I've got my priorities straight.
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