It seems that lately I have been out of my comfort zone and a lot of the times and been reading a lot of thrillers, more the rule than the exception. So I immediately said yes to The fourth courier, especially as it’s set in post-communist Poland.
Year Of Publication: April 2019
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
My rating: 4 stars
For International Espionage Fans of Alan Furst and Daniel Silva, a new thriller set in post-Soviet era Poland…
It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.
When Jay learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has also disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.
The fourth courier is a slow-paced espionage/thriller so if you are expecting James Bond stuff, you will be disappointed; the tone of the story is more in the lines of Red Sparrow (which I believed to be brilliant). The main character is Jay Porter, an FBI agent sent to Poland to help investigate the murders of these couriers and the concerns around the smuggling of nuclear agents, but there is also a CIA agent (Kurt), a local detective (Kulski) and the director Basia Husarka. It is really hard to go into details without spoiling things, but I actually enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, even if it was a little bit too “lucky” at times for things to have happened that way. Sometimes a little bit too convenient for the plot to meet the right people, however suspending my disbelief I found myself enjoying this novel.
The backdrop is a grey Poland, still struggling post-communist era and seeing these people trying to cope with the new reality made this novel even more important because their issues felt very real. The writing was good and I prefer a to-the-point style of writing and Timothy Jay Smith delivered. The heaviness of the subject was interspersed with dark jokes, revealing more of the bleakness of their lives, and moment of joy. It is clear that the author has a great knowledge of Poland not just as a nation, but also about the people.
On the other side, initially the sex scenes didn’t make much sense, I could not see why it matters, but for these characters, in the end, it mattered very much and it had logic. As already said, the plot is very slow and I not a lot is happening in the first half, then things start to pick up, but even so, it felt like convenience and luck that helped solve the case rather than actual policing. I am not sure I am believing in Jay’s skills as an FBI agent because I haven’t seen much of that.
Overall though, I recommend this book if you like slow-paced, character-based espionage thrillers, especially if you are interested in post-communist Poland.
You can order this book here: https://amzn.to/2TOHmLx
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