NASA is about to launch Apollo 18. While the mission has been billed as a scientific one, flight controller Kazimieras "Kaz" Zemeckis knows there is a darker objective. Intelligence has discovered a secret Soviet space station spying on America, and Apollo 18 may be the only chance to stop it. But even as Kaz races to keep the NASA crew one step ahead of their Russian rivals, a deadly accident reveals that not everyone involved is quite who they were thought to be.
Hadfield’s talent for turning myriad historical and technical facts into a spellbinding and informative plotline makes this Cold War-era novel, his first venture into fiction, well worth waiting for. In fact, it has everything one could ever want in a blockbuster movie—except that you can vividly 'see' every bit of it in his richly visual writing. As well as evoking moments of ethereal and surreal beauty that so many astronauts have experienced when looking at our home planet from space, or peering down at our single moon, Hadfield doesn’t shy away from the gross bits, which are stark realities, not sensationalism ... For a splendid space tale that is explicitly fictional, The Apollo Murders deserves an equally high rating for authenticity, both human and technical. Whether there’s ever a movie version or not, Hadfield delivers the 'right stuff' on every printed page. It will be a hard act to follow in any medium.
Hadfield taps into his own experiences and vast knowledge base to craft a story that is absolutely overflowing with period-accurate detail while also offering up enough twists and turns to make for an engaging thriller. He blends real-life individuals with fictional creations to tell a tale rendered all the more compelling for its general plausibility ... a fun read. While I generally eschew these sorts of spec-loaded books, I am happy to make exceptions when the circumstances warrant ... Space nerds are going to be enthralled; Hadfield goes deep on the various and sundry details of early ‘70s space technology – on BOTH sides. It can admittedly feel like a bit much; very few stones are left unturned with regard to the equipment being utilized. Occasionally, the narrative loses some steam in the face of the wave of tech specs, but only occasionally ... Most of the time, Hadfield’s solid storytelling sense keeps things moving. The plot features its fair share of twists, developing taut thrills as it goes. The historical accuracy is also a huge factor, serving as a sort of shorthand that elevates the stakes ... Now, there are some issues here as well. As mentioned before, the book can get bogged down in minutiae. There’s a romantic subplot of sorts that feels a bit shoehorned in and a couple of developments that read as a touch far-fetched, particularly when so much of the book feels so grounded in reality. And the book’s climax and conclusion come extremely fast – perhaps a bit too fast to land with fully realized impact. Still – all relatively minor concerns with what is overall a delightful read ... rgeat fun. Sure, it’s a jargon-riddled thriller by a famous person, but it’s an incredibly good example of that – good enough to help me get over myself and my admitted snobbery. If you’re someone with an interest in space history or someone who digs thrillers or someone who just digs a straight-up adventure, strap in – Chris Hadfield is going to take you to the Moon and back.
Hadfield draws on his expertise as an astronaut to add authenticity and realism to his debut thriller. Fans of Clive Cussler and Andy Weir will enjoy this genre-bender combining military fiction, the detective novel, and techno-thriller.