It is the 1960’s and Vladimir Zhukov is the new second secretary at the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Seeing what life is really like in the US, he discovers that there is much more to America than what is portrayed in the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, his wife, a former Komsomol, does not enjoy the ‘advanced culture’ of the west. With Natasha(Vladimir’s daughter) falling in love with an American, will Vladimir remain loyal to mother Russia? Or will he defect to the States?
The plot sounded interesting and that was the reason I chose to read this book. After having read The Red Dove, which is definitely one of Derek Lambert’s best, I had a lot of expectations on this one. But what I did not know was that the story was more of an internal battle – the character’s dilemma to choose between Russia and the west.
No matter what, the Russians are loyal to their country. The employees of the embassy were always under surveillance. From installing bugs in their homes to shadowing, it was not easy to defect. When Tardovsky(first secretary) is caught trying to defect, Vladimir is promoted to first secretary. With the CIA and the British Secret Service trying to woo Vladimir to defect and the Russian embassy encouraging him to socialize so as to gain information, Vladimir Zhukov is torn between choosing freedom and home. He loves the automated appliances available in the west, but he longs for Russian food and culture.
The story was a drag at times. The internal battles in the minds of Natasha and her father, Vladimir, was a bit unnecessary (too many details!). There was not much of action or suspense either. Helen Massingham played the role of a seductress. As her husband was a member of the British embassy, her job was to help her husband in wooing Vladimir to defect. The CIA came up with another plan – seduce the daughter, coerce her to defect and her father would follow in her footsteps.
Things go wrong when Charles Holden, who works for the FBI, falls in love with Natasha. Now, Natasha has to choose between her parents and Charles. Valentina Zhukov, Natasha’s mother plays a very important role in the end. The best part of the story was when Valentina’s real role in moving to the US is revealed. The love story of Charles and Natasha is also a pretty appreciable piece in the story.
Apart from all these, the story was a bore. The Red House is not one of Derek Lambert’s best. This was not a mysterious or a thrilling read. The ending was good but it could have been better.
Character Development: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
Title: The Red House
Author: Derek Lambert
Published on: 2nd November 2017 by Collins Crime Club ( first published 1972)
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.Featured Image Credits: Net Galley