The Fourth Courier
Timothy Jay Smith
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 in 1992 Warsaw, Poland.
This is a very. serious. novel. Literature people, literature. Which I can enjoy and appreciate some of the time – Witchcraft Couture for example. But this novel? I ploughed through this novel, and I didn’t really come up for air. I didn’t really enjoy it, even if I appreciated some aspects of it.
The real world grittiness of this novel was deeply atmospheric and I felt as if I was standing on the banks of the frozen dirty river watching the dead men examined by their killers. I walked the streets of Warsaw with Porter and sat in the bar with Mladic. And in fact, I could have done without Mladic’s sex scenes which seemed to me vaguely gratuitous and certainly misogynistic and awkward to read.
What I think could have improved this novel were less perspectives. Jay felt like the main character and the person that the reader should be rooting for. So it would have been ok in my opinion to simply narrow it to his and Crawford’s perspective. Because adding all the others meant that I didn’t feel as much suspense as I might have. It’s not really a mystery when you can already tell who the bad guys are.
For quite some time I didn’t realise why it was important that Crawford was gay. It was a major selling point from the author for me to review it and from the blurb it seemed like he would be a major player. Instead while it was important for ONE crucial plot point, the rest of the time it was just a thing that I kept thinking was important.
Aleks was certainly able to give up heroin very quickly. And the ending was really quite questionable. What will happen in the future? What about that coat check?
I’m giving this 3 stars, but I think for the right audience it could be right up there in a 4-5 star range. I received a copy of this novel directly from its author (who I also interviewed here).