‘Killers Of A Certain Age’ by Deanna Rayburn

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. But now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates their real-world resourcefulness in an age of technology.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses-paid trip 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 realise they’ve been marked for death.

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.


‘Killers Of A Certain Age’ was fun but disappointing. The humour made me smile and the plot kept me entertained but I didn’t connect with any of the characters.

Here’s what I liked:

The premise of four women who had worked together as assassins for forty years and are now on the brink of retirement, finding themselves targetted by their own organisation and having to work hard to survive long enough to find out why and to get the kill order revoked.

The dual timeline structure, with the plot being driven by the present-day action but the context is given by a ‘Previously on ‘Killers Of A Certain Age” timeline that gradually reveals how the women were trained and some of the missions that they’ve been on.

That all of the missions were clever and the final resolution was smart, if a little too easy.

The gentle humour of the book, some of it coming from the banter between the women and some of it based on seeing the women dealing with the effects of being in their late fifties or early sixties.

Here’s what disappointed me:

The characterisation of the four women was thin and leant towards easy stereotypes. Billie got the most airtime in the present-day timeline but even she was only partially drawn. The dialogue between the women worked well but I didn’t really get inside their heads.

The physical demands the plot made on the women, especially Billie, tested my suspension of disbelief and left me at a distance from the characters.

A male colleague is brought in to help with action but, apart from providing a little extra firepower when it was needed he seemed to be there mostly for decoration.

The ending was neat and clever but the explanation that was given after the fighting was over and the bodies were being counted, went on for too long

The narration of the audiobook. The main narrator, who covers the present-day timeline, didn’t give distinct voices to the four women which made the narrative harder to follow at the start. The voice of the second narrator, who covered the other timeline wasn’t different enough from the first to bring about a change in tone. None of the narration was bad but it hindered rather than enhanced my reading experience. I’d have been better off with the ebook. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of the narration.

Deanna Raybourn is an American writer, originally from Texas, now living in Virginia.

She is known for her Victorian mystery series (currently seven novels) featuring intrepid butterfly-hunter Veronica Speedwell.

She has also published thirteen Lady Julia Grey historical mysteries and five books set in the 1920s. 

Killers Of A Certain Age is her first contemporary novel.

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