Title: The Fourth Courier.
Writer(s): Timothy Jay Smith.
Release Date: April 3rd, 2019.
Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Under all the politics that is divulged to society lies a web of secrets that is often beyond our control as key figures use their powers to accomplish their most evil wishes, whether their intention is for the greater good or not. It is through espionage fiction that we often untangle these conspiracies and understand the complexity of this political and governmental machine that can sometimes feel so grand and untouchable. From the award-winning writers of A Vision of Angels, author Timothy Jay Smith looks to explore an international plot where deception and murder meet face to face as nuclear power is set loose and only time can tell if an FBI agent and a CIA agent can stop it all before it’s too late.
What is The Fourth Courier about? Set in 1992, following the end of a period marked by communism as Poland enters a post-Cold War era, a couple of unusual murders lead authorities to believe that an international smuggling ring for nuclear material has been developed with the help of couriers. As this case becomes of international interest, FBI agent Jay Porter is sent in to investigate these murders only to understand that a portable atomic bomb is on the market and he needs to hunt it down before it falls into the hands of ill-intentioned individuals. Straight out of the defunct Soviet Union, this espionage thriller explores the intricate atmosphere of an era where change has finally reached a country’s doorstep while treachery remains ubiquitous within all.
In what was supposed to be a fast-paced espionage thriller, I found myself mildly confused by the direction and the execution of this tale. There is no doubt that Timothy Jay Smith renders an atmospheric setting that beautifully captures Warsaw, Poland in 1992 as it suffers an identity crisis where its societal traits are fragile enough for any event to come transform the system in a traumatic fashion. However, this story essentially focuses on its characters to truly depict the era in which the author wanted to unveil his criticism of its people and the political landscape in which they have lived in for far too long. Unfortunately, these characters were not fleshed out to my taste despite being drawn up with enough flavour to despise them for who they are and strive to be. Their raw coldness didn’t allow me to have a particular interest in their escapade, even when the author takes the time to explore both points of view, good and evil.
While expectations did play a role throughout my reading experience, it is worth mentioning that there is unusually heavy attention to sexuality throughout this adventure as Timothy Jay Smith looks to turn it into a key component to the mystery. This focus led characters to be molded according to their sexual preferences and desires, forcing the story to loosen its grasp on the intrigue by inserting unnecessary sexual acts and romantic colloquies that I wasn’t looking for in the stories I read. It should be mentioned that the dialogues were thus difficult to connect with as they could never really capture my attention and instead further fed my need for mystery and suspense as I hoped that the protagonist would show more professionalism or proficiency as an FBI agent. Although the chaotic plotting kept me on the edge of my seat, it became harder for the story to impress me as I progressed through the narrative.
The Fourth Courier is an unorthodox espionage thriller set in a post-Cold War Poland where peculiar characters reign over the straight-forward mystery at hand.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a physical copy for a review!