Book Review: ‘The Apollo Murders’ by Chris Hadfield

The Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s saw the United States land on the Moon six times. Each mission included more detailed charting of the Moon, sample returns, and experiments galore! In The Apollo Murders, author (and former astronaut) Chris Hadfield explores what could’ve happened if there was just one more mission – with a different purpose.

The story follows Kaz Zemeckis, a former test pilot who goes to work with the Apollo 18 crew for their upcoming Moon mission. There’s a Space Race going on, just not the very public one to land the first human on the Moon. The Cold War heats up once again, and the quest for glory has no bounds as the twists and turns in this exciting and daring adventure are non-stop to the very end.

Fans of spaceflight know this author well. Commander Chris Hadfield is a man of many amazing talents. His career started in the Canadian Armed Forces where he was a fighter pilot before being selected as an Astronaut by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). His spaceflights have seen him visit two space stations (Russia’s Mir and the International Space Station), perform two spacewalks, and fly on two different spacecraft. On his final flight, he was commander of the International Space Station as part of Expedition 35.

Chris Hadfield playing guitar on the ISS. From Space Oddity performance.

Chris’ talents go beyond space exploration and flying. His singing and guitar skills were displayed while on the ISS. He recorded some music videos and even recorded a whole album while on the station. He’s been a TV show host, notably leading the series Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes. The show saw contestants competing for Chris’ endorsement on their applications for astronaut to the European Space Agency. Before The Apollo Murders, he was already an accomplished author. His previous publications include a children’s book (The Darkest Dark), a book of photographs from orbit (You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station), and his autobiography (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth) which he also read the audiobook for.

Knowing Commander Hadfield’s career allows you to understand the sources he drew from in writing The Apollo Murders. We see bits of himself sprinkled in Kaz, like the love of flying or relaxing with a guitar in hand. Technical knowledge is on display but isn’t overwhelming, and it’s properly explained for those who aren’t actual astronauts or armchair rocket scientists.

Joining in the adventure are some legends who were there – key players in real life and this work of fiction like Alan Shepard, Gene Kranz, and Al Bean, to name a few. In fact, so many elements of The Apollo Murders were drawn from real life that Hadfield includes a chapter explaining the who’s, what’s, and where’s from that era.

Chris Hadfield and the crew of Expedition 34 on the ISS. Credit: NASA

The Apollo Murders has a little something for everyone. A daring spaceflight, political intrigue, a spy thriller, and a good ol’ fashioned whodunnit all rolled into one exciting story! This may be Chris Hadfield’s first foray into fiction, but I certainly hope it isn’t his last.

The Apollo Murders releases on October 12, 2021. It’s available in print here. The audiobook version releases the same day and can be found here.

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