Excerpt from Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Killers of a Certain Age

by Deanna Raybourn

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn X
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
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    Sep 2022, 368 pages

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Chapter One

November 1979

"My mother always says it's common as pig tracks to go around with a run in your stocking," Helen says, eyeing Billie's ripped hosiery critically.

Billie rolls her eyes. "Helen, it's murder, not cotillion."

"It's not murder," Helen corrects. "It's an assassination, and you can make an effort to look nice. Besides, they're supposed to believe we're stewardesses and no stewardess would be caught dead with torn pantyhose." Helen brandishes a familiar plastic egg. "I brought spares. Please go change while you still have time. I'll start the coffee."

The run is so tiny only Helen would have noticed it. Billie opens her mouth to argue and closes it again when she sees the tightness around Helen's lips. Helen is nervous and that means her eye for detail is hyperfocused, searching out things to worry about. Better for her to fuss about snagged pantyhose than any of the thousand other things that could go wrong on their first mission, Billie decides.

"Mary Alice is on coffee detail. You go check on Nat," Billie says, plucking the egg from Helen's hand. She pops into the lavatory just long enough to strip off her ruined hose and shimmy into a fresh pair, emerging to hear the conversation from the cockpit. Movies again-of course. When Gilchrist and Sweeney aren't debating the odds of getting Goldie Hawn into bed, they are trying to stump each other with film quotes.

"'A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that, but they don't listen.'" The pilot waits while his copilot pauses the preflight check, screwing up his eyes in thought.

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail?" he guesses.

The pilot rolls his eyes. "Jesus, Sweeney, no, it's not Monty Python. Did that line sound funny to you?"

Sweeney shrugs. "It could be." The copilot jerks his head towards the galley. "Skirt!" he calls.

Billie steps into the doorway of the cockpit.

"Yes, Sweeney?" she asks.

He pulls his mouth to the side, doing his best Bogart as he looks her up and down. "She missed being beautiful by just a hair, but the voice more than made up for it. It was low and smoky, the sort of voice that ordered whiskey neat and told the bartender to keep the change."

"I don't remember that in The Maltese Falcon," she says.

His expression is outraged. "It's original! Come on, I make a great Sam Spade."

"Don't quit your day job. What did you ring for?"

Sweeney repeats the quote. "What movie is it from? Vance just threw that one out and acted like I'd punched his grandmother when I didn't know it."

"The Deer Hunter," she tells Sweeney. She points to the pilot. "And his next line will be from The Godfather."

The pilot grins. "How do you know that?"

"Every other one of your quotes is from The Godfather," she says. She pauses and the pilot gives her an assessing look. She is perfectly turned out, from the crisp, uncreased uniform to the smooth, dark blond hair tucked into a neat French pleat. Her hands don't shake and her eyes don't dart around. But she is nervous-or excited. Something is thrumming under her skin, he can almost smell it. And it is his job to settle her down.

"You got this, Billie," he says in a low voice. "You and the others are good or they wouldn't have given you the job."

She smiles. "Thanks, Gilchrist."

He shrugs. "I've given you a lot of shit in training, but the four of you are alright-provided you make it through tonight," he adds with a heartless grin.

"That's comforting," she tells him as Sweeney laughs.

"Just remember the mission and you'll be fine," Gilchrist assures her. "Sweeney and I will be keeping the bird steady, so you girls are on your own back there unless something goes seriously to shit." His expression says it better not, and she promises herself then that she'd sooner open a vein with a paper clip than ask him for help.

Excerpted from Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. Copyright © 2022 by Deanna Raybourn. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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