cover image The Fourth Courier

The Fourth Courier

Timothy Jay Smith. Arcade, $24.99 (312p) ISBN 978-1-94892-410-8

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, joins the Warsaw police on the case. The perpetrators, chief among them a Serbian nationalist general with delusions of grandeur, are known to the reader early on, and coincidence plays a key role in moving things along. Interest lies in watching how various strands of the straightforward plot gradually converge as events play against a moody picture of daily life in post–Cold War Poland. Sharply drawn characters, rich dialogue, and a clever conclusion bode well for any sequel. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media. (Apr.)