The Spy Coast, a review by Joanna

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The Spy Coast
Tess Gerritsen

Thomas & Mercer
341 pages
November 1, 2023

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The Spy Coast is a new series opener from Tess Gerritsen, who is best known for her Rizzoli & Isles crime fiction novels. It follows the recent literary trend of featuring senior citizens as the main heroes, in this case a group of retired CIA spies who live in a small town in Maine – but still know how to get the job done when one of their own is threatened. I liked the premise of this more than the execution – it’s taken me more than two weeks to finish, because the pace is very slow, but ended up quite enjoying the last quarter, when it finally turns into a spy thriller, although plenty about the plot didn’t make sense.

Maggie Bird left her career with the CIA behind to live on a small farm in Purity, Maine, with her chickens and her memories for company. Then she receives an unexpected visitor, asking her to help an old associate who has disappeared. When the woman is subsequently found dead on her driveway, and then Maggie herself comes under attack, she knows that her past has come back to haunt her, and she will need the help of her old friends in “The Martini Club” to survive.
This is told from three perspectives – Maggie’s in first person present, that of her old colleague and nemesis Diana, and of Purity’s Acting Police Chief Jo Thibodeau in third person past. Unfortunately this really didn’t work for me – I liked Jo as a character, but she’d have been better as the heroine in her own book/series, rather than getting in the way of the plot here. The story was unfortunately slowed down to a crawl by Maggie’s frequent flashback sequences, and while she talks a lot about her work as a spy, we never get to see her doing it. The action only really got going towards the end, and that was the part I enjoyed – I thought the twist was good, but lots about the plot didn’t make sense. 3.5 rounded down for the present tense.
I’m undecided about whether I would continue this series – I’d be more interested if one of the other silver-spies takes the main role next time, as I didn’t warm to Maggie as a heroine. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the Advance Reviewer Copy.

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