Updated: May 30
by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
I mentioned Deanna Raybourn's Killers of a Certain Age (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) in my Bookish Fave this week featuring books I think would be perfect for your summer TBR list, and I wanted to come back to this one to share a full review because I absolutely loved it, and it was quite different from so many things I've read recently. Jen shared this on a Bookish Check-In, and it immediately caught my attention. First of all, the protagonists are four women who are trained to be assassins. Secondly, they are all in their sixties. I have to say that premise immediately got my attention because it was a perspective I had NEVER read. This story focuses on Billie, Mary Alice, Natalie, and Helen, all of whom have had a forty-year career working together for a mysterious, underground agency only referred to as the Museum that began shortly after WWII with the mission to rid the world of people who had committed heinous crimes.
The story alternates between the present day and the past forty years. We learn how the women were recruited, what some of their early missions looked like, and how their lives played out over the years.
“We looked like a girl gang that would have the Queen as our leader, all low heels and no-nonsense curls.”
But when the ladies get on their retirement cruise in the present day, they quickly realize they have a problem. There is another agent from their organization aboard the ship, which cannot be good news for them.
The four women know from their forty years of experience that they are likely the targets of the mission, and they also decide that they are not willing to accept that fate. From that discovery, a methodical plan emerges from the chaos, and they find themselves creating their own mission for the first time.
There was so much to love in this book. The present-day timeline had the feel of a heist, and every moment is action packed. However, there is also a careful consideration of the role of women in a largely male-dominated arena, and the examination of women as fierce fighters is also powerful. I loved seeing the women both in their youth and in their older age, vibrant and practical and full of action.
Such a phenomenal book! I'll leave you with a quote I loved from the perspective of Billie.
"Because she doesn’t apologize for anything. She had a rotten start in life, but she’s made the best of it. She lives on her own terms. She knows who she is and what she wants, and she does what she is good at. And she has a good time doing it."
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