The Apollo Murders

By Chris Hadfield

The Apollo Murders, a novel by Chris Hadfield
Book details

The sense of adventure and bravery that someone needed to explore space in the 60s and 70s is beyond me. All that separates you from the vacuum of space is a few sheets of glass and metal. The technology onboard is simpler than the type of things you would get in a child’s electronic watch. Geniuses, brave men and women, who have to trust one another implicitly. Therefore, if a murder occurs it puts the entire space program in jeopardy. In The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield this is exactly what happens and in space no one can hear you scream blue murder. 

Kazimieras 'Kaz' Zemeckis was on track to be one of the few people to venture into space, as a test pilot he had the skills and the knowledge, but a crash lost him an eye and his place on any future Apollo missions. Now his role is as a flight controller helping to keep the US part in the space race on track. When one of the astronauts dies weeks before launch, suspicions are raised, but the mission must go on as the Soviets are starting to catch up. It seems that they have a secret weapon in space and the US needs some astronauts to investigate. 

Hadfield will be a name familiar to many, not just as an author, but renowned astronaut. Hadfield brings to the table an almost unbeatable understanding of what it is to go to space as he has done it himself. Apollo is a love letter to the 60s and 70s space race and fans of the workings of NASA and the Russian equivalent will get a real buzz from the book. Hadfield has done some great research and it all feels very authentic, but this is a work of fiction. 

Alongside the science and engineering is a crime thriller that places the book into the alternative history genre and squarely into the wheelhouse. The start of the book is a historic thriller, but in space it really opens up. The enclosed spacecraft focuses the story as suspicions are raised both there and on the ground. There are elements that touch in science fiction, but they are written in a way that makes them possible, as they would have been had the events been real. This is not farfetched, and it adds to the tension. 

I appreciate that Hadfield never lost the importance to keep the reader entertained. There is plenty for a technical reader, but also any thriller fan can pick up the book and read it like any other crime novel, just with more space based antics and higher stakes. I love the sections that saw the astronauts leaving the atmosphere and what they find out there. The politics and tensions both internally and against the Soviets feel like it plays out truthfully with a few little twists to add spice to the story. 

Apollo reads like a book written for the mainstream crime thriller genre, it has the murders and the pace that you would come to expect from someone like Lee Child, but it also offers more. There is great insight into the world of the space race from a passionate writer who knows their stuff. There is also a cheeky alternative history narrative. It is not advertised as such, but this is realistic science fiction, playing with reality only a little to make an intriguing what if story. It is the type of book that people will enjoy on different levels. 

Written on 6th September 2022 by .

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