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.
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.
I have never read a book that wants to be a movie more than Killers Of A Certain Age. From page one, until the very end, this novel screams to be turned into a movie! It just has the perfect dose of high adrenaline and action mixed with short personal insights and equal doses of melancholy and humor. I loved it, every page kept me entertained and didn’t give me one moment to get bored.
If there’s a downside, it’s the fact that it is quite difficult to distinguish the four protagonists between each other. The book is separated into Past and Present chapters, with the present ones narrated from Billie’s perspective and the past ones written in third person. This would make you think that Billie is the protagonist but in reality, all four ladies “of a certain age” are main characters and play equally important roles. Unfortunately, it feels like the author created the contours of one character, made another three xerox copies of it and afterwards used different colors to paint each one of them. They’re all pretty much the same, just slightly different shades. And no matter how far you’ve reached into the book, the differences are not becoming more noticeable.
Despite the slightly confusing protagonists, I did enjoy the novel a lot. I noticed some GoodReads reviews making a fuss about the old ladies not acting or speaking like… well, proper old people. And I feel that those reviewers didn’t get to spend a lot of time with real old people. Growing old does not take the fun out of life. You don’t stop swearing or making faces or throwing dirty jokes here and there. You just stop doing that in public. But inside your intimate circle? You are still you, you don’t suddenly turn into a boring, complaining and grumpy “Karen”. I had the opportunity to grow up and spend a lot of time between elders. I’ve heard jokes that made me blush more often that you’d expect. I’ve witnessed the same dynamics in a group of old people that I’ve seen between young friends. I spent countless hours crying with laughter with a group of 80 years ladies, completely forgetting that they’re not in their thirties. Yes, there are more conversations about back pain and heartburn. But the society’s expectations are way more conservative and depressing than what reality is. So I honestly think that the author did a great job portraying her characters and the friendship they developed during the decades of working together.
The mystery at the base of the storyline is not breathtaking, but it is enough to create interest. The action and characters fill the gaps enough. I would have loved to find out more about Billie’s protégé, Minka. It could have been an interesting backstory and would have deserved more than just being left as a hanging thread, especially since Minka has a lot of potential to be a more important character. But that’s simply a wish and not a complaint.
My thoughts still drift to the book, days after I have finished it and I realised today that it’s been a pretty long time since a novel filled me with such joy. It’s a cocktail of spies, chick-lit and bittersweet old ladies and Deanna Raybourn did a great job mixing it!