Ashley McKenna, the jack-of-many-trades who’s not exactly a private eye, expands his portfolio in an adventure that casts him as not exactly a spy.
Ash is working as a “blunt instrument” for Stanislav, an old friend’s cousin who runs Crash Hop, Prague’s answer to Airbnb, when a man calling himself Roman turns up flanked by a pair of enforcers and asks Ash to follow Hemera Global Bank employee Samantha Sobolik till she picks up a mysterious package, grab the package, and turn it over to him. When Ash demurs, Roman trots out a long list of Ash’s earlier peccadilloes (South Village, 2016, etc.) and threatens to reveal them to the authorities. When Ash still refuses, Roman offers to kill his mother, whose Staten Island address he helpfully provides. That information supplies enough motivation to get Ash moving but not enough to keep him in Roman’s pocket. Shortly after he’s nearly killed by Chernya Dyra, the former Spetszaz agent Samantha meets on the Charles Bridge at 4 a.m., Ash finds himself tagging along with Sam: if he’s not entirely on her side, he’s not entirely committed to robbing or betraying her, either. Since Ash is no stranger to violent episodes that are not so much mysterious as surreal, and since he has few qualms about killing his own enemies, there’ll be lots of action, none of it (spoiler alert) involving Ash’s mother, in the service of a diabolical plot that’s at once so simple, so incredible, and so logical that it’s the best feature of this uneven fourth installment.
“At least now there’s some momentum,” the hero reflects in a rare quiet moment after a beating leaves him aching and nursing a broken nose. Whatever you think of his here-today-gone-tomorrow fortunes, you have to admire that Zenlike attitude toward the work that isn’t even his chosen career.