Blog Tour: Guest Post by The Fourth Courier Author @TimothyJaySmith @lovebooksgroup

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For International Espionage Fans of Alan Furst and Daniel Silva, a new thriller set in post-Soviet era 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 investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, 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.  

Guest Post: The Location Behind The Fourth Courier

Warsaw. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric city, sometimes gloomy in winter which contributes to The Fourth Courier’s noir ambience. The story chose the location. It could be set no place else. Warsaw was the hub for smuggled goods coming into the country, and anything nuclear brought out of Russia would certainly pass through it.

In 1989, thirty years ago this year, the Berlin Wall fell and Solidarity won Poland’s first free election in over 60 years. (For plotting purposes, I set my story in 1992.) The Fourth Courier is a snapshot of the grim end of communism—with its ubiquitous grey everything contrasted with the red Solidarity banners, a symbol of people’s hopes and aspirations.

Since 1989, a lot has changed besides the country’s politics. Virtually none of the specific sites in my book along the river still exist. Not the Nightclub, not the narrow concrete jetties leading to sandbars, not Billy’s cottage. Nevertheless, for those who want to follow The Fourth Courier’s footsteps in Warsaw, there are many places still recognizable: the Old Town, the Marriott, the subterranean passages, certain bridges, and Centralna, the central training station.

But Warsaw was and is more than a physical place. It was where the hopes and duress of the country were centered. Communism had failed to elevate everyone. Here’s what FBI Agent Jay Porter sees passing through Warsaw’s sister city, Praga, across the river:

“A church’s onion dome loomed over the bent women and broken men who plied those streets. Here, a man sold oranges displayed on his car hood; there, a woman used a stick to rummage in a refuse bin; and everywhere, the poor scuffed their shoes in the gritty snow bargaining for toss-offs.”

Later, Jay contemplates:

“He’d walked enough of Warsaw’s grey streets and through the 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?”


 

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