The Fourth Courier is a thriller set in Poland during 1992.
FBI agent Jay Porter has been sent to Warsaw after radiation was detected on a murder victim, the third in a series in which a connection is suspected. A defecting Russian scientist, the head of the Yugoslavian security service and the CIA all become involved in this fast-paced drama with high stakes.
Since the fall of communism, Poland has become a corridor for smuggling; now it looks like nuclear arms have joined the long list of smuggled goods.
The setting for this book first attracted me to the story and I was very impressed by the way the author portrayed the hopes of the Polish people and how their dreams fell short once the reality of capitalism became apparent. This was my favourite aspect of the book.
As far as the individual, main characters are concerned, I was less convinced by them; I felt that opportunities to develop them, by accentuating their personality traits in dialogue and inner thoughts, were missed. I did actually wonder if this is down to the author being first (and foremost?) a successful playwright―on the stage or screen, the actors will interpret the words and bring them to life; just a thought. The characters in this book seemed to me to be safe genre stereotypes that never really jumped off the page.
This book contains cold, dark and raw accounts of casual sex and relationships, which, though well-executed, got to a point where they began to overshadow the main storyline. On the whole, though, there is no doubt that the plot construction, suspense and an authentic, detailed knowledge of the subject matter make the novel commendable. However, the lack of characterisation stopped it being memorable for me. This is, of course, only my opinion―which is all a review ever is―but I need to be immersed in the characters and really feel I’ve got to know them in order to become emotionally invested in the plot developments.
Overall, a good choice for those who prefer plot-driven thrillers.
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A Fast Paced Espionage Thriller for Alan Furst Fans Set In Post-Cold War 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.
Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, The Fourth Courier brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.