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The Fourth Courier    by Timothy Jay Smith order for
Fourth Courier
by Timothy Jay Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Arcade, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Timothy Jay Smith's The Fourth Courier is a spy thriller that opens in 1992 (post Cold War) Warsaw, Poland, whose porous borders have made it 'a freeway for unlawful trafficking.' The story opens on a series of horrific murders. Detection of radiation on one victim's hands make international intelligence services fear they were smugglers, carrying nuclear material out of what once was the Soviet Union.

FBI agent Jay Porter is dispatched to help Polish police with their investigation. He mainly works with Polish Detective Kulski (who reports to glamorous Director Basia Husarska) and with gay black CIA officer Kurt Crawford, who is attached to the Embassy. All four Russian victims were slashed on the cheek and killed with a bullet to the heart. The first three were tortured first. The fourth was elderly.

After setting the scene, the author takes readers five days earlier to meet the players and watch developments. There's Jacek, the assassin, and his ex-wife Lilka, who works in the airport's executive lounge. In search of his missing suitcase, Jay meets her and the attraction is instant. Lilka's brother-in-law Tolek is desperate to take his family to America. Her son Aleks uses drugs. They all play parts in what unfolds.

Then there's the main villain, Serbian General Dravko Mladic, working to get his hands on a portable atomic bomb, to be supplied by Russian physicist Sergej Ustinov via a series of couriers. Kurt exploits Mladic's suppressed homosexuality to get close to him. Together, Jay and Kurt do prevent the death of millions, but not without collateral damage. I wonder if we will read more of their adventures.

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