Book review: The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen

Thursday, August 17, 2023 Permalink

Part-way through The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen I thought, ‘She’s done such a great job with these characters this will have to become a series.’ And sure enough, after I’d finished reading I went to add it to Goodreads and noticed it’s called The Martini Club #1.

It’s very reminiscent of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series – though given our lead cast are all ex-CIA agents – they’re like the residents of the Coopers Chase Luxury Retirement Village, but on speed.

I should mention, not only did I love the ex-spies here, but I also very much liked cop Jo Thibodeau who finds herself with unwanted (but extraordinarily talented!) interlopers.

Book review: The Spy Coast by Tess GerritsenThe Spy Coast
by Tess Gerritsen
Series: The Martini Club #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer, Bantam
on 17/10/2023
Source: Publicist
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1662515138
Pages: 364

Former spy Maggie Bird came to the seaside village of Purity, Maine, eager to put the past behind her after a mission went tragically wrong. These days, she’s living quietly on her chicken farm, still wary of blowback from the events that forced her early retirement.

But when a body turns up in Maggie’s driveway, she knows it’s a message from former foes who haven’t forgotten her. Maggie turns to her local circle of old friends—all retirees from the CIA—to help uncover the truth about who is trying to kill her, and why. This “Martini Club” of former spies may be retired, but they still have a few useful skills that they’re eager to use again, if only to spice up their rather sedate new lives.

Complicating their efforts is Purity’s acting police chief, Jo Thibodeau. More accustomed to dealing with rowdy tourists than homicide, Jo is puzzled by Maggie’s reluctance to share information—and by her odd circle of friends, who seem to be a step ahead of her at every turn.

As Jo’s investigation collides with the Martini Club’s maneuvers, Maggie’s hunt for answers will force her to revisit a clandestine career that spanned the globe, from Bangkok to Istanbul, from London to Malta. The ghosts of her past have returned, but with the help of her friends—and the reluctant Jo Thibodeau—Maggie might just be able to save the life she’s built.

This is another book I got from Theakston Crime Writing festival in Harrogate. Not in my goody bag, but rather at an event I went to with Jeffrey Deaver – who was thoroughly entertaining I must say.

I’ve read some of Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series (and loved the TV show) and also some of her standalones.

Here she gives us a delightful – and very impressive – crew of ex-spies (now in their 60s and 70s) all of whom have retired to a town called Purity, in Maine.

This book is centred around the brilliantly named Maggie Bird and I wonder if Maggie will remain the lead character or if each book in the series will feature a different lead character. Here Maggie is forced to relive her last case – one we learn that was very personal and painful.

The Spy Coast opens when she’s visited by a stranger asking after someone from her past. She’s worried her identity and location have been discovered though things get worse when the stranger is murdered and dumped in her driveway.

Gerritsen sets this in two timeframes and both are really engaging. I loved the story of Maggie’s younger years. She falls in love but then forced to combine work and pleasure and things go badly. She feels very betrayed and happily walks away from it all, but of course now sixteen years later, someone from that time seems to have re-emerged.

In the present we meet her former colleagues of course, as well as a neighbour and his delightful (slightly wayward) 14 year old daughter. And then there’s Jo, the Acting Chief of Police who’s investigating the body dumped in Maggie’s driveway, and later an attempt on Maggie’s life.

I very much enjoyed this book. The backstory is strong and offers a really good foundation for the events in the present and Gerritsen times the telling of the past beautifully with the perfect amount of foreboding (and foreshadowing).

I’m very excited already for more in this series. Our Martini Club members felt very real, I liked them all and can’t wait to meet them again.

The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen will be published by Bantam (Penguin Books UK) and available… at some point in the future.

I received an advance copy of this book while at the Theakstone Crime Writing Festival. 


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