Killers of a Certain Age

by Deanna Raybourn

Paperback, 2023

Call number




Berkley (2023), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages


"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 by New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn. 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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member AnnieMod
How often had you picked up a book whose premise sounds absolutely fascinating just to find out that the book is essentially a dud? Nope, this is not that kind of book. I almost expected it to be - or at least I was prepared for it to be but it managed to surprise me in a positive way. Which does
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not make it a great book but it is a very readable story of murder and revenge.

Meet Billie. She is in her 60s, just about to retire from the Museum where she had worked for the last 40 years together with 3 other women around the same age. They had been gifted an ocean cruise as a thank-you-and-good-bye gift and when we meet them they are about to embark on it. So why does the presence of another employee of the Museum on board make the 4 women somewhat uneasy?

Well, you see the Museum is just a name used by their employer so that people who work for the organization can fill forms (and not get weird looks when they share what they do for a living). 40 years earlier the 4 women were recruited to become the first female-only assassin team in an organization which started with chasing and exterminating Nazis and moved into killing any bad person who needs killing.

I have to admit that I cheated a bit on my review - we see their very first kill, 40 years earlier before we meet the 60 years old Billie. But I am sure that she won't mind her story being told this way. The novel is told by Billie and it alternates between the past and the present. In the past, our team is going around the world, killing the bad people who deserve it and sleeping just fine after that. In the present? Well, they do know too much, don't they?

And off we go - the 4 retirees against the organization that taught them everything. This is where the novel gets a bit off track - it drags a bit in some places, it gets a bit repetitive in others and while the balance and timing of the past and present works for most of the novel, a few times the past feels like an intrusion and an artificial slowing down of the story. But the story itself holds up well enough to make that an enjoyable read. A few murders and betrayals later, things finally get to a showy ending and a finale which while not unexpected was charming enough.

If you are looking for a light-hearted novel with older protagonists and some murder thrown in, it may be the perfect read. Billie's voice carries the novel and at various times you need to decide just how reliable she is as a narrator.

PS: I almost dropped the novel after the first chapter. The author decided for the bad person to be Bulgarian. That is a popular trope lately (it is safe and there was a bit of a weird period to account for that in reality) and I do not mind it but it is about a decade too early for it to sound right for too many reasons. Not that there were no bad people in Bulgaria earlier but this type of a flashy richness just does not fit the early 80s. It could have been any country and I suspect that Raybourn chose Bulgaria just because it is a safe choice and a popular location for the birthplace of your tugs while being exotic enough but did not account for the timing. Billie's voice convinced me to stay with the book despite that and it payed off.
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LibraryThing member MickyFine
Billie, Mary-Alice, Helen, and Natalie spent most of their adult lives working for The Museum, an organization formed by former OSS and SOE officers to hunt down Nazis and, later, bring other criminals to justice. They worked as assassins and were very good at their jobs. Now in their sixties,
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they've all recently retired and embarked on an all-inclusive cruise to celebrate the next phase of their lives. But when someone from The Museum attempts to assassinate the four women, they'll have to bring out all of their skills to figure out why and bring just a few more people to justice.

I want to foist this book on so many people and tell them how great it is. Raybourn crafts four wonderful women, with Billie being our primary window into the narrative, and really brilliantly depicts their lives both in the present and the past. None of these women are superheroes and while there's plenty of James Bond-esque action, their various exploits realistically deal with the challenges of doing said action in a sixty year-old body. Full of international intrigue, a hint of mystery as the women unravel who wants them dead and why, and plenty of female friendship, I enjoyed every second of this. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member sublunarie
Holy SHIT this book was SO GOOD. OH MY GOD!!!

Look, if you think it sounds fun, it's more fun than you'd ever expect. If you think the characters sound neat, they are cooler than you could imagine.

I need more of their stories. I need sequels and prequels and I want to hear about more hits and
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generally how much they kick ass. Please Deanna PLEASE write more of them!
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LibraryThing member Sheila1957
Four 60-year-old women--Billie, Helen, Mary Alice, and Natalie--meet to go on a cruise to celebrate their retirement from the Museum, an international inter-governmental organization where they worked for 40 years as assassins. On the cruise they discover the Museum has ordered a hit on them. Why?
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Who will win?

I loved this book. It is so much fun. Each woman has her specialty and uses it to find out who is responsible for the hit and to bring them to justice. They work together but they also fight. But they work as a unit. I figured out who (partly) and why (partly.) I liked how the past shares time with the present. It gives a good picture of the women. It gives history also for them and their missions.

The ending is open ended. I hope I picked up the message that there will be more of these women. They are fun!
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LibraryThing member spinsterrevival
Such a great story here, and I loved all the different aspects that pulled it together. I loved how these four women worked together and had such trust in each other. I was very interested in Billie and enjoyed that she’s still a bit of a mystery at the end, but I most love that she finds joy in
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a job well done. I’m sure the film rights have already been bought for this, and it seriously would make an amazing movie; it’s such a good on-the-run thriller but with protagonists I love even more than the typical ones we’ve gotten in the past.
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LibraryThing member tottman
An elite group of female assassins are taking a celebratory cruise on the occasion of their retirement after 40 years in the business in Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. Recruiting in their 20s by an organization, referred to only as The Museum, that rose to hunt Nazis, these women have
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spent decades carrying out clandestine assassinations all over the world. They are literally sailing off into retirement when they discover that they themselves are targeted for assassination. The Museum soon finds out that they are not so easily disposed of.

The story jumps between the present and the past, when Billie, Mary, Alice, and Helen are recruited and trained together as well as some of their notable missions. Told through the eyes of Billie we come to know her best. The plot is witty and filled with both humor and thrills. Unraveling the mystery of why they are being targeted keeps you guessing all the way through. Their clever and deadly efforts to trace the problem to its source provide plenty of adventure. The way they are dismissed, underestimated, and overlooked only adds to the pleasure of seeing them succeed. The tragedy and wisdom of age, particularly for women get a very interesting treatment here and the results make it impossible not to root for them. This book reminded me of the movie RED, and is thoroughly entertaining!
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LibraryThing member ritaer
Four women trained as assassins by a private organization retire only to discover that their former employer has arranged to kill them. They strike back while working to discover the cause for their fall from favor. Action filled and funny in places.
LibraryThing member niaomiya
This book was so fun! I could easily see it adapted into a movie with big-name actresses of a certain age just eating up the roles.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have been assassins for 40 years. When their employer sends them on an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise to celebrate their
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retirement, they find that they have been targeted by one of their own. Only the highest-up members of the organization can order the termination of field agents, so now the women have to stay alive while trying to figure out why they have been marked for death. Drawing on a lifetime of professionally trained infiltration and assassination skills, the women find that they've still got what it takes and that nobody should underestimate women of a certain age who have killing skills.

With lots of action and laugh-out-loud humor, "Killers of a Certain Age" is a highly entertaining book. In the style of a fun heist caper but with some matter-of-factly described killings thrown in for good measure, the book moves along at a good clip while not forgetting that it is an action novel whose protagonists are pushing 60. The flashback chapters that reveal the women's early days as new recruits, including their first jobs, give us insight into each woman's personality and history. And that insight enables the reader to connect better with the present-day women and understand why certain conflicts still exist among them, despite their obvious camaraderie.

The book is well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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LibraryThing member sblock
Kind of disappointing. Richard Osman's books about people of a certain age are far superior, with lower body counts.
LibraryThing member AmyM3317
Nearly 40 years ago, Billie, Mary Alice, Natalie, and Helen were recruited into the covert organization, The Museum. With much training, they became the first all-female group of assassins doling out justice where often justice has been overlooked.

Now, as the world changes and heads in a more
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technological direction, the women and their methods are considered too "old school". It doesn't matter because they are all ready to retire and with The Museum giving them an all-expense paid cruise, they can go out in style.

Except, once onboard the tables are turned and the women find themselves on the other end of a hit order and must find out who wants to silence them before it's too late.

I'm a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn and was highly anticipating this book since I first heard about it. Although at the same time, I was a little nervous seeing as how Killers of a Certain Age is Deanna Raybourn's first foray into contemporary from her well-known historical mysteries. I shouldn't have worried, because this book absolutely killed it!

I was immediately drawn to the story because it has older heroines. I'll admit my normal reading fare has never featured an older group of women in such a bada** role as that of an assassin.

I really also enjoyed the background of the story. Where The Museum and, subsequently, our heroines all started out and their link to some pretty significant times in history. The book is told in alternating timelines switching from the present and into the past kind of giving readers a setup of why things are happening the way they are in the present.

I really liked how focused the story was on the women. Billie in particular is the center of the story. The present-day sections are told from her point of view with the past sections told in the third person. But Billie is kind of the touchstone of the group. While not the outright leader, each woman has their own talent, Billie has taken on the role of planning and strategizing their jobs.

Deanna Raybourn's story never strays far from the task at hand, but still infuses the narrative with small tidbits of heart and depth.

I would definitely read some more prequel stories set in this world.
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LibraryThing member Dianekeenoy
What a fun, fast read!!! Four female assassins in their 60s are given an expensive cruise to celebrate their retirement from the clandestine Museum. When a young male assassin is recognized on the cruise, they understand that they aren't expected to live long enough to collect their pensions! Then,
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it's off to the races! Non-stop mayhem and murder (deserved! ) ensues until the very last chapter! Highly recommended!!!
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LibraryThing member beckyhaase
This is a fun romp through assassinations – although these are assassins with scruples – they only kill those who deserve to die to make the world a better place. That is-- until someone puts a hit on them!
Four women assassins who have spent their
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whole lives working for “the good of humanity” have reached retirement age only to discover they themselves have been targeted. Will they become victims or will their “advanced age and unique skills” actually work to their advantage? This mystery is almost a cozy with a bit of humor thrown in. The flashbacks are interesting and give a portrait of each woman. The situations are believable – sort of. Although a bit long (nearly 350 pages) it held my interest. The plot is detailed and intricate. Thoroughly enjoyable.
5 of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member ethel55
So good! Just drop everything and pick it up! Retiring assassins targeted by their former clandestine employer.
LibraryThing member jetangen4571
assassins, fiction, friendship, frustration, suspense, suspicion, survivors, survival, thriller, dual-narrators, dual-timeframes, action-adventure, middle-aged, retired, verbal-humor, situational-humor, false-information, false-identities, falsely accused, art-history, intrigue, over-60,
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overcoming, international-crime-and-mystery*****

And I thought that Veronica Speedwell was a bada$$! What a thrill ride!!
In alternating chapters (early years/present 40 years later) wisely read by two different Voice Actors the story is told by one of a particular group of four female assassins assigned to take out evil in the world. Now they are 60, retired, and have been targeted by their own organization because of an unfounded accusation against each of them. Let it all begin.
Hope that the younger set is not too intimidated by what those of us "of a certain age" can do.
Jane Oppenheimer and Christina Delaine are the fantastic voice actors who know what women sound like in their own heads.
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LibraryThing member bookappeal
Four aging hired killers should be enjoying their retirement but instead discover a sinister plot that will take their combined talents, as women and assassins, to survive. Fast-paced, action-packed, clever, and funny. And a darn good argument for a daily yoga regimen.
LibraryThing member quondame
It's ever so cute and all the twists are right where they should be in the expected direction. If the idea of women assassins appeals this is a fun read and brisk, nor is it long, so there's no chance for the least bit of drag. But it has all the grit of face cream.
LibraryThing member arubabookwoman
This was a ridiculously unrealistic romp a book, a book I should have disliked intensely, or at least been annoyed by, but on the whole I really liked it.

Our protagonists are 4 sixty-something women who have worked for years for a shadowy organization formed after WW II, originally for the purpose
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of tracking down and exterminating former Nazi war criminals, but which morphed into an organization that eliminates bad guys of any ilk. Now the women are retiring, and the organization has sent them on a celebratory cruise on a luxury liner. Unfortunately they soon discover that someone--no spoiler to say that the someone is their former employer--is trying to kill them. They have to escape the cruise ship, find out who is after them, and bring their enemies to justice. The body count rises geometrically as the ladies devise more and more ingenious ways of killing. In between their current day adventures we get their back stories and accounts of their capers over the years of their careers. It's all narrated in away that is humorous, if a bit over the top and "cutesy" at times. I also felt that the characters sometimes sounded like teenage sorority girls rather than mature women, but it's all fantasy.

Buzz Feed referred to this book as "Golden Girls meet James Bond," and I liked the author's note at the beginning:

"Some of the dates are misleading; some of the names are lies. I'm not trying to protect the innocent. I'm trying to protect the guilty. You'll understand soon enough."

3 stars

First line: "'My mother always says its common as pig tracks to go around with a run in your stocking,' Helen says, eyeing Billie's ripped hosiery critically."
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
Big fun is unusual in a thriller and this one's got it! Four sixty year old lady retiree assassins are targeted by their former employer and must use all their skills to keep breathing. Each has specific skills that have been employed since the 1970s, and each has also lived varied personal lives
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without breaking their oaths of secrecy. The time jumps between their original tasks and the urgency of their new one flow smoothly and there's tons of humor in their repartee and tension in the resolution. Totally enjoyable!
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LibraryThing member delphimo
Deanna Raybourn has written a new novel which has received glowing reviews. I do not see the brilliance of this novel as I waded through this muck. The story centers on four sixty-year-old women who have worked as assassins for forty years and are now hoping to retire. Well, the Museum, the
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assassin-for-hire agency has other plans for these four senior citizens. The story jumps back and forth between the career of these women and the present day dilemma of staying alive. The novel never caught my interest and wasted precious time.
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LibraryThing member CelticLibrarian
Fast and funny thriller with a twist of feminine rage.

Four women in their 60s have spent their lives as assassins under the umbrella of an organization that seeks to rid the world of the evil on the planet. Now, they are retiring and on a celebratory luxury cruise when they find out that they've
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been targeted for elimination. They are not going down without a fight and they intend to show their handlers just what women of a certain age can do.

The characters were a mix of personalities and motivations but their years of working together have cemented their friendship and protectiveness. It was really fun to read a book where all of the main characters were in their golden years and show they still had so much left from their experiences and skill sets. I liked their interactions and the teamwork they used to meet their end goal. I've read and loved several books by this author and, though they are historical fiction, this was a great departure from the usual with this thriller. I like her writing style and her sense of humor making this witty and quite entertaining.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for this e-book ARC to read and review.
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
Huh, this was fun. I like angry women getting their power back. I'm not 100% sure I could ever really buy into someone else making the decisions of who to assassinate and just being able to trust them to do it right, but I did enjoy both the characters (prickly! determined! sad!) and the
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satisfying, quick-paced plot.
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LibraryThing member dcoward
A great premise for a book, unfortuantely, I found the execution lacking. It read like a cozy, if the characters were retired assasins. If you like cozies, try it out!
LibraryThing member Carolesrandomlife
I thought that this was a really clever and entertaining book! I can just imagine this group of 60-year-old women working as assassins. As they enter retirement, it appears that the hit is on them and they need to work fast if they want to stay alive. Watching them work together and create plans to
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deal with the situation was a lot of fun. I am so glad that I decided to pick up this entertaining story.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have spent the last 40 years working for the Museum. The Museum is actually an organization of assassins. While they are on their retirement cruise, they spot a hit man and quickly understand that the organization has turned on them so they must work together in order to stay alive. I really enjoyed the methods that they employed as they tried to figure out why they were finding themselves in danger.

This story is told from Billie’s point of view. Most of the book is set in the present day but there are some scenes that take us back to their training and early days on the job. All of the women in this book were fascinating characters and I loved that they were able to juggle their careers with their daily lives but everything is finally coming together. I had fun just thinking about some of the methods these women used to get the job done not to mention the situations they always had to be prepared to deal with. I found this story to be exciting and I was eager to see just why the Museum had turned on them.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I thought that this was an incredibly entertaining story featuring really unique and likable characters and a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. I cannot wait to read more of this talented author’s work.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group.
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LibraryThing member BrendaRT20
Enjoyable but bloody.
LibraryThing member rmarcin
4 women, Billie, Natalie, Mary Alice, and Helen, are recruited to be part of Project Sphinx, a group of assassins who kill dictators, sex traffickers, and other awful people. Now, 40 years later, they are invited on a cruise to celebrate their retirement. However, it seems as if someone is out to
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kill them, and they need to use all their resources to find out who wants them dead, and to fight back against them.
This was a super quick read and quite entertaining. I enjoyed rooting for this unlikely group of friends.
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Barry Award (Winner — Thriller — 2023)
Macavity Award (Nominee — 2023)
RUSA CODES Reading List (Winner — 2023)
LibraryReads (Monthly Pick — Hall of Fame — September 2022)




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