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The Fourth Courier

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  77 reviews
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 inv
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published April 3rd 2019 by Arcade (first published April 2nd 2019)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, spies, poland
”He’d walked enough of Warsaw’s gray streets and grim underground passages, glancing at the faces of passersby--each a map of a wounded country--and wondered if what he considered his rebelliousness, bred in America’s suburban comfort, could have survived what they had endured. Or would he have resigned himself to the half-empty glass of their existence?”

FBI Agent James ‘Jay’ Porter has been dispatched to Warsaw, Poland, to find out why dead men keep appearing on the river bank, each with the kn
Timothy Jay Smith sets his espionage thriller in the tense and fearful atmosphere of Warsaw's dark, dingy, cold and icy streets and alleys. It is 1992, and the recent collapse of the Soviet Union poses threats with its porous borders, poorly protected nuclear arsenal, and the badly paid or now redundant nuclear scientists and military. The head of Yugoslav secret services, Serbian nationalist, General Drako Mladic has ambitions that he is willing to realise with a chilling and deadly plan that w ...more
Optimist ♰King's Wench♰
DNF - 49%/NR

Part of it was me and part of it was the writing style. All of it was 100% disappointing because I love suspense thrillers and was virtually bouncing up and down to read this. To be fair, Smith clearly knows Poland and that shows in the writing.

What I had anticipated was a good, juicy thriller that I could sink my teeth into but this is more focused on creating an atmosphere rather than the investigative aspects of the genre that I enjoy. I found the pacing glacial, so I threw the to
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
 Thanks to NetGALLEY and Skyhorse publishing for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

In an effort to further increase my genre landscape, I decided it was time for another espionage thriller. But around the 50% mark, I seemed to be floating above myself watching me try to get into the book. It was really low on the spy stuff but I liked the premise of Poland in 1992 when the West and the East still had so many doubts. Maybe I just like my spies more dark and twisty?
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Timothy Jay Smith, and Skyhorse Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After having been asked to read this book by the author, I could not wait to see just what Timothy Jay Smith had in store for his readers. This thriller, set in 1992 Poland, has all the elements of a Cold War classic without the Iron Curtain. However, remnants of the Soviet-era dominance remain, bo
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Fourth Courier is a stunningly great hardboiled espionage tale set in post-Communist Poland. The setting is a stroke of genius. The Iron Curtain has fallen and gray bureaucratic Warsaw is coming slowly to grips with Western capitalism and cooperation with the Americans. War is brewing in the former Yugoslavia, a war that would eventually become not only deadly but dirty and desperate. Nuclear scientists are at loose ends in Soviet Russia. And, the FBI has been called in for consultation on a ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was approached by the author to read and review his latest novel 'The Fourth Courier' which I was very happy to do.
This is a spy thriller set in Warsaw, Poland in 1992 at the end of the communist era. A number of gruesome murders becomes an international case when it's feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the Soviet Union. FBI agent Jay Porter is sent to help the investigation and when he discovers that a Russian physicist who designed a portable ato
Richard Derus
Real Rating: 3.5* of five, rounded down for misdirection


My Review
: Atmospheric, dark thriller about the immediate aftermath of the USSR's fall, its consequences for the former Warsaw Pact countries (especially Poland), and a morally ambiguous story of how the balance of power stays balanced.

I was unsurprised to see the homophobia of the Eastern Bloc countries brought into focus...remember Swimming in the Dark? Nationalist Love?...but
Briar's Reviews
If you're looking for a book full of mystery, thrills and deceit then The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith might be for you!

This book was action packed, fast paced and full of intriguing characters (all of which seem to meet at the final climax of the book). Not only that, but Timothy Jay Smith had such a way with words that it was hard to put down! To just quote the opening lines of the book, "their steel girders booed thunderously" had me hooked, and his way with his prose continued to be s
2019 really has set the bar for these spy thriller/mysteries and The Fourth Courier is keeping that momentum alive. With the crash of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe is a complete disaster. The United States and its Western allies are nervous that with the USSR's crash, that corrupt leaders in it's satellites will be able to uncover nuclear materials. Yugoslavia is going through it's own civil war, with each of the ethnic groups currently at war with each other. FBI agent Jay Porter is assi ...more
If you want to know what the story is, don’t expect me to give details : first because I don't like to spoil, but mostly because I have no idea. It’s kind of an espionage thriller based in Poland in the early nineties, with Jay Porter, an FBI agent, sent to help, with the additional aid of a CIA agent, the Polish police to solve the death of several men who are likely Russian and may be connected to the smuggling of nuclear weapons.

There’s a lot going on, but I couldn’t put every piece together
Joyfully Jay
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: jay
A Joyfully Jay review.

3.5 stars

So let me start off here by clarifying that this story is not a romance, but a historical thriller. I chose this one because the blurb mentions that the book “brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot” and the book was pitched to me by the author as one where the “gay factor is key to solving the case.” So while this isn’t our normal fare, I thought it might be interesting to explore a fiction s
Timothy Jay Smith
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
From Publishers Weekly:

"When three unidentified bodies with mutilated faces turn up on the banks of the Vistula River in 1992 Warsaw, the police initially assume that they are dealing with a serial killer in this solid thriller from Smith (A Vision of Angels). Later, they determine that the victims are Russian and carry traces of radioactivity. The possibility of smuggled Soviet-era nuclear materials raises its head. FBI agent Jay Porter, who has family connections to the Manhattan Project, join
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars rounded up for the authenticity of this early 1990's period in Poland after the collapse of the USSR.

It was the people themselves, more than the plot or the progression that almost made me give it a 2 star. Evil for the most part, and just so endlessly cruel that I lost interest in them by the half way point. It's also too long and the continuity at points becomes lost. And not just because of the naming and association drops or voids either.

Exceedingly joyless and holds some of the m
Jane Kelsey
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
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 ...more
Lashaan Balasingam

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

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-winni
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: March 13th 2019

"It's not death that we fear but being erased by history if we leave nothing behind."

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Arcade in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

(view spoiler)
Vandana ▪️ Whats on my bookshelf
Agent Jay Porter of the FBI is sent to the US Embassy in Poland to assist with an Investigation, joining CIA agent Kurt Crawford, where 4 murders have been carried out wherein bodies have been dumped by the same river and victims have nuclear radiation on their hands and a slash to the face. It is 1992, and the recent collapse of the Soviet Union poses threats with its porous borders, poorly protected nuclear arsenal, and the badly paid or now redundant nuclear scientists and military. General D ...more
Happy Booker
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The fourth courier is a crime fiction set in 1992. The story is about Jay Porter, a special agent and his gay CIA agent to investigate a Russian physicist who is missing. He is specialized in making atomic bombs and so that gives them the intuition of a big problem.

The thriller story also contained some history, politics and architectural description. Based on the stories setting, it being after the seismic fall of communism in Eastern Europe, I found the story to contain depth and relativity to
C.J. Rodgers
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to start my review by saying how refreshing it was to read this novel. Everything about this novel was thrilling and exciting to read. I enjoyed the attention to detail regarding the Polish native tongue, to the post-cold war changes that the country experienced. I think my favorite character was the doctor for sure and a good second was Kurt. I read this book in less than a day, that's how good it was! I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good mystery thriller with characte ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I love a good espionage thriller, having a soft spot for such stories that results in me diving in whenever one catches my eye. With Timothy Jay Smith’s The Fourth Courier, we have an espionage thriller that caught my attention instantly. It promised so many things I really enjoy, and I powered through the story.

Without a doubt, The Fourth Courier was one that kept me turning the pages. I was sucked in, curious to see how everything came together, and was happy to keep reading. It was an interes
Angela Han
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For a mystery/thriller book, the author blew my mind away with his ability to interweave history, romance, betrayal, and murder in one book!

In the beginning, the author presents the situation in Poland towards end of WWII. The desolation and financial hardships of the people living in Poland are masterfully presented. They are simply trying to survive! Romance factors are placed throughout the book consistently with details.

I love how the crime progresses gradually rather than suddenly. I pers
Mary Yarde
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Are you suggesting someone is trying to put together an atomic bomb?”

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, brought about many opportunities — for some. Since the dissolution, post-communist Poland had become a freeway for unlawful trafficking. However, when three bodies turned up — each showing signs of torture and a bullet in the heart, alarm bells started to ring. This was not the work of a serial killer. This was the work of something much worse.

With the disappearance of a Russian phy
Erik McManus
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. It is a nice feeling when an author sends you a book to read and you have no idea what you are going in to but then find yourself caught up in this web of mystery and intrigue.

The characters were well fleshed out and they had just enough backstory to let the reader know all the details they needed to for the story to progress.

There is a heavy influence of LGBTQ+ in this book which I wasn't expecting from this type of genre but I must say I am happy in the way it was us
Magdalena Wajda
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy, and have an even bigger pleasure of recommending this book with all my heart.
If you like such subjects as espionage, spies, the Cold War, Europe in turmoil, intelligent games played by the intelligence, go fot it - you will not be disappointed.
The book is set in 1992 in Warsaw. The city is grey, cold, confused - barely out of the hands of the communist regime. It is also depicted in a very true, believable fashion - Mr. Smith has spent quite a few
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I did like this book. It has the vein of a really, good thriller. There is intrigue, action, and plenty of movement to keep the story from becoming "stale". So, why did I not "love" this book? Well that is because I struggled to find my footing with the characters. There were many and yet none of them fully grabbed me where I could form a strong connection with them. Therefore, it does not matter how good a storyline a book can have; if I the reader can not form a connection with the characters ...more
Jan 17, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2022
Part spy thriller, part murder mystery, this atmospheric and gripping novel takes its reader to pst-Cold War Poland: The year is 1992, the Soviet Union newly dissolved, and a series of brutally murdered couriers appear to have been smuggling nuclear material through Warsaw, intended for parts unknown - and now there's a portable nuke missing somewhere in the city. An FBI agent sent in to deal with the matter teams up with a locally stationed CIA officer to track it down, find out who's behind th ...more
Alex Jones
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
1992 Warsaw, shortly after the Soviet Break up, Spring is beginning in Poland but the weather is cold and streets are paved in ice.

4 murders have been carried out, bodies dumped by the same river, victims have nuclear radiation on their hands and a slash to the face. Agent Jay Porter of the FBI is sent to the US Embassy in Poland to assist with the Investigation.

With the borders to Poland now open from Russia, Sadistic General Drako Mladic, head of security of Yugoslavia sees his chance to resur
It felt as though this book had a sense of timelessness to it; and you totally forget that you're reading about a period after WW2 where Poland is still recovering from the after effects. I really enjoyed the writing; even though the story itself didn't really stick with me - I'm likely to read another book by this author. I got an ARC in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set shortly after the Soviet Union imploded, this international intrigue takes FBI agent Jay Porter into Poland. There he’s quickly involved in a case where three men have been found dead on a riverbank. All have a minor genetic deformity: the stub of a sixth finger. The more pressing concern, however, is that they all have radioactive hands.

Porter and CIA agent Kurt Crawford along with their Polish counterparts are concerned about the security of nuclear material stockpiled by the USSR during
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Raised crisscrossing America pulling a small green trailer behind the family car, Timothy Jay Smith developed a ceaseless wanderlust that has taken him around the world many times. En route, he’s found the characters that people his work. Polish cops and Greek fishermen, mercenaries and arms dealers, child prostitutes and wannabe terrorists, Indian Chiefs and Indian tailors: he’s hung with them al ...more

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