THE SPY COAST by Tess Gerritsen

This excellent thriller, with a cast of characters to root for and deft plotting, is one in a recent string of bestsellers built on the trope of retired spies called back into action because of an operation in the distant past that went sideways and must finally be put to rest in the present time.

Like SLOUGH HOUSE by Mick Herron and A LEGACY OF SPIES by John Le Carré to name the most well known, THE SPY COAST offers multiple points of view and timelines, as well as a hefty helping of authentic spycraft.

As a retired CIA officer myself, however, I’m happy that these tales are all fiction.

Now retired to Purity, Maine, Maggie Bird was a CIA operations officer who lived a nonofficial cover job as a logistics officer for a shipping company, specializing in textiles. Her off-the-radar life as a chicken farmer is disrupted when a woman appears at her door to ask for help finding a long-ago colleague named Diana Ward.

Maggie adamantly refuses—obviously there is bad blood between her and Diana. Shortly thereafter, the messenger’s dead body is dumped on Maggie’s driveway and a sniper narrowly misses Maggie as she feeds her chickens.

Acting chief of police Jo Thibideau is baffled by both crimes, as well as by the lack of background information on Maggie and her small circle of friends who have dubbed themselves the Martini Club.

Those friends are all Agency retirees, of course, with analytic and research skills and a global network that Jo will never have and there’s a great tug-of-war between the retirees and the cop, similar to the Richard Osmen THURSDAY MURDER CLUB books. Yet the real diamonds in this book are Maggie’s chapters in which she recounts Operation Cyrano, a murky CIA effort to capture a Russian mole inside the highest reaches of the British government by using Maggie’s unwitting husband.

Sixteen years ago, he was a doctor who worked for an upscale medical concierge service. His most important patient was a notorious British gunrunner and money launderer with epilepsy. Maggie’s assignment was to use her husband to gather intel on the man because the Russian mole was a business associate.

Diana Ward was Maggie’s control officer during the operation.

Now someone has stolen the Operation Cyrano files and is going after those involved.

Unlike so many spy novels featuring Russian evildoers, the plot did not take 12 sheets of graph paper charts to understand. The smooth yet brisk writing style made it a true page-turner.

THE SPY COAST is supposedly the start of a new series featuring Maggie and her circle of retired spies. I can’t wait for the next!

Find THE SPY COAST on Amazon

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