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Book review: Page-turning caper a tribute to older women

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Four longtime friends together on a luxury cruise … sounds delightful. But when the four friends are women who spent forty years as assassins, the Love Boat concept is tossed into the waves. In this book, Deanna Raybourn has taken the often-overlooked life of older women and turned it into a page-turning caper.

Billie, Natalie, Mary Alice and Helen were recruited by a private agency in the late 1970s when they were young women. They often worked as a team to take out the bad people in this world: Nazis, arms dealers, sex-traffickers, drug lords. They were well-trained, learning how to use knives, guns, poisons — even tobacco juice to kill the bad guys and gals.

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Now the agency is rewarding these retirees by sending them on a luxury cruise as a thanks for their years of service. They are not long out of port when they realize that this time they are the targets of the agency they worked for (never identified, just known as The Museum). For most people, it would be difficult to escape someone trying to kill you on a ship in the middle of nowhere. But these are experienced, smart and savvy women. They figure it out.

But then what? One option is to just walk away, to disappear and take on new identities and get regular jobs. “Doing what?” Natalie demanded. “We’ve spent forty years assassinating people, Billie. It’s all we know how to do and you can’t exactly find clients for that on LinkedIn.” “I think Craigslist would be a better place to find clients,” Helen put in. So they decide to go after the bigwigs at the top who ordered their demise.

This book is a tribute to older women, who are often overlooked as they age. The gray hair comes in handy when you want to be invisible. The wrinkles make you look like someone’s sweet grandmother. The extra weight around the middle makes you look like a pushover. These women take advantage of their age, their experience and their wisdom to triumph over those who want them dead.

The plot has many twists and the writing is often funny. The dialogue makes you feel like you’re sitting around with your best friends, having a glass of wine. And you’ll never look at non-dairy creamer the same way!

Penny A Parrish is a freelance writer in Stafford County.

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