Title: The Man who was Saturday
Author: Derek Lambert
Published on: 2017 by Collins Crime club (first published in 1985)
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Kreiber, a defector from Berlin is out fishing in the frozen Moscow river when someone brutally murders him by pushing him into the frozen river.
Svetlana Rozonova and Katerina Ilyina are best buddies and women’s rights activists. They fight for Equality which is almost non-existent in the Soviet.
Robert Calder defected to Russia after being somewhat brain-washed by Gary Holden, his friend. Although, Gary turned anti-communist soon after, leaving Calder to carve his own path. After the famous war of ‘nam and the death of Calder’s brother, Robert Calder defects to Russia, abandoning his wife, Ruth, and son, Harry.
After living in Russia for five years, Robert Calder wants to re-defect. He wants to return to America. Calder learns about the ‘accidental deaths’ of other defectors. Calder learns of his son’s accident and he decides to flee. He promises to reveal a dark secret about the KGB agents in exchange for his safe passage to the USA.
Meanwhile, Spandarian, a KGB agent has his eyes set on Calder. He threatens Katerina by giving her two options – either play Calder’s love interest or be expelled from Russia for participating in the women’s rights movement.
Calder is being followed and is almost assassinated – sniper attack while driving and replacing edible mushrooms with death-cap mushrooms. Spandarian is now sure that Calder holds a very deep and dark secret and he must be killed before he can re-defect. But why? What is the secret that is creating a lot of hullabaloo in the KGB?
The Man who was Saturday is a cold war spy thriller. There is a lot of fleeing and killing and spying and all those action-packed stuff that one can find in a spy story.
The first half of the book is about Katerina and her rallies, Calder and his conversations with Jessel (works at the US embassy, Moscow) and Dalby (a defector). Then, the story takes a turn there is a failed assassination attempt on Calder (The sniper attack). Again, there is another failed attempt and things get murkier. I really do not want to comment on the love story between Katerina and Calder. I did not understand their concept of “Love”. Katerina wants to stay back in Russia while Calder doesn’t.
Who on earth is Saturday??? or, should I say Where on Earth is Saturday??? The story is about secret KGB agents in the US of A. And one of the agents’ code-name is Saturday. The story is more about like a cat-and-mouse chase, the cat(s) being Spandarian and other KGB agents and Calder is the mouse! And nowhere in the picture is Mr.Saturday, at least not until the end.
After a lot of chasing and fleeing and chasing and fleeing, when you think Calder is going to get caught, there is a twist in the story. The ending was unexpected as well as abrupt. The ending could have been better. I felt that Mr. Saturday had to play some dark and villainous part instead of a small and almost negligible part.
Bilderberg (I, Said the Spy) and Trans-Siberian Express (Yermakov Transfer) are mentioned in this story. Cars such as Volga (pretty famous one, this), Zil and Chaika are also mentioned. Apart from that, it is the usual KGB thing – bugs in the defector’s apartment, shadowing the defector and foreigners, etc. And not to forget Intourist, Russia’s travel agency.
After reading I, Said the Spy, The Red Dove, and Yermakov Transfer, I felt that The Man Who was Saturday could have been better. I did not quite like Yermakov transfer either. But the other two were exceptionally good.
I received this copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.