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The Defector

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What a ride.

So many questions, though: I know Hadfield says that many of the following incidents are true, but I wonder how many? and which ones?

Like, was there actually a defector? and Did the US lose a plan in the 70s? And what happened to the female cosmonaut? and WHOSE BRILLIANT IDEA WAS IT TO TAKE Gryph TO VEGAS?!

The ending was bonkers. Kaz finally got to actually DO something, instead of just being along for the ride.

Like many others, I found there to be an over-abundance of bomb/plane/gun description, but I quite enjoyed the history and science bits.

Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada, and Mulholland Books for this techy ARC.

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I really enjoyed this second installment of the Apollo Murders. Chris Hadfield makes it feel like you’re part of the action. He is very talented in writing about Cold War espionage, Makes sense, since he has so much experience as a test and fighter pilot, astronaut and Commander of the International Space Station.
Looking forward to the next instalment of the Apollo Murders!

Thanks to #NetGalley and #MulhollandBooks for an eARC for my honest review.

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In Chris Hadfields latest novel, "The Defector", we find our protagonist from Hadfield's last novel, Kaz Zemeckis, involved in one of the most promising Soviet defections in a generation. On the eve of the Yom Kippur War, a Soviet pilot secretly lands his Mig 25 fighter in Isreal and declares his intention to defect to the United States.
What follows is a race to get the pilot and his plane to the United States so the US military can fully understand what the were just gifted. Through all of this, Kaz will have to stay sharp to avoid close calls and understand that not everything is what it seems

Once again, Hadfield is able to craft a story so well that one could see this having really happened. His sense of detail and intimate knowledge of the military are well balanced with his ability to move the story along at a solid pace. Hadfield's use of actual historical events and people make the reader feel like they are getting a personal history lesson in classified materials.

Thank you Netgalley and Random House Canada for the ARC.

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Astronaut and author Chris Hadfield is back with another thriller in his Apollo Murders series. But anyone expecting a thriller in space may be disappointed. This book is much more down-to-earth.

It is 1973 and Russian test pilot Alexander Vasilyevich Abramovich (better known by his nickname 'Grief') lands his MiG-25 - a Soviet jet that can fly faster and higher than anything the United States has - in Israel and calmly turns himself in. The Israeli's quickly stage a crash scene just off the coast and with some clandestine meetings, turns Grief and his jet over to the United States.

In the Nevada desert, Grief will work alongside some of the elite U.S. test pilots, teaching them all there is to know about the jet.

Kaz Zemeckis is a former US test pilot and current NASA Flight Controller, Kaz will be Grief's escort to the U.S. and responsible for keeping an eye on him and ensuring he has a pleasant experience as a welcomed defector. But Kaz will have the challenge of a lifetime.

My reaction towards this book is nearly identical to that of Hadfield's first book in the series, The Apollo Murders. Hadfield clearly knows the territory of his books. Whether in space or on the ground, all aspects of an astronaut's life are familiar to the Canadian former astronaut. And maybe that's not the best thing as he tends to include more than is necessary while the bulk of the action is contained to the last quarter of the book.

We have a couple of chapters, early in the book (about a quarter of the way in) in which our local pilots decide that Grief should have areal American experience and take him to Las Vegas to go to a Frank Sinatra concert. It's all hush-hush and off the record, of course.

It just so happens however, that three cosmonauts are currently visiting the United States - part of the soon-to-occur Apollo-Soyuz mission (I love that Hadfield shares with us that the Russians refer to it as the Soyuz-Apollo mission) - and their trip includes an authorized visit to Las Vegas. In a crowded room, Kaz recognizes Svetlana Gromova and quickly ushers his Soviet defector away, not sure if the cosmonaut saw or recognized them. Kaz will later be assigned as the Soviet Souz crew's official liaison and the two will do a little political charades to see if the other will bring up Grief's presence in Las Vegas. (Svetlana, for her part, will already have researched Grief and been told the official story of his being killed in an accident.)

And two third of the way into the book and there will be no more mention of Svetlana, other than in a dream of Kaz's.

Quite likely we're being set up for book three, but honestly, this is a lot of page time devoted to someone/something that has nothing to do with the current story. If it's intended as a red herring, it's much too tame - it needs the energy and excitement that the finale has in order to keep us guessing.

We also spend just a little too much time setting up the character of Grief. Nearly six of the first twelve chapters are about Grief flying, landing, and turning himself over. Again, Hadfield clearly understands the process of flying a major technological marvel such as the MiG-25, but perhaps we don't need quite so much insight. A thriller needs to move at a faster pace.

I'm a big fan of Hadfield the astronaut and all he's done to raise awareness of the International Space Station and the space industry (I have a son who works in the industry and he too is a fan of Hadfield's), and I definitely admire that Hadfield finds the time and energy to write as well. But I have to wonder ... if this book had been written by someone whose name wasn't so recognizable, would it ever have been published?

Looking for a good book? The Defector is the second volume in astronaut/author Chris Hadfield's Apollo Murders series. One could start half way in and enjoy a fast-moving thriller but the first half is set-up ... and maybe not even for this particular book.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Very fast paced, full of action and great character development. It has hints of the book 3 that might be related.

The astronaut development was good, but then never went anywhere?

A worthy read!

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A fast-action page-turner for those who can follow and understand the technical specs. I felt like I was trying to read a foreign language for most of the book which made it hard to engage with. I recommended it to my teenage son and he is enjoying it. Excellent choice for those who love military action stories and the Top Gun movies. Can read as a stand-alone.

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This is the second book in 'The Apollo Murders' series, Hadfield is an accomplished test pilot and astronaut whose career included a visit to Mir (the Soviet Space Station) and two stays at ISS ( the International Space Station) , so he knows about what he writes. I also enjoyed how much of the story was based on actual events. The novel is very technical and I wanted to feel more of an emotional connection to the characters, but it was still a riveting thriller and I look forward to more in the series. 4/5!

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If you are in the mood for a fast paced thriller, then this is the book for you..It has it all, Russian defector, Israeli war, space intrigue, fast airplanes and of course Area 51. Plus a one-eyed test pilot who finds himself in the middle of Russia’s plot to steal our secrets. What more could you ask for?


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It's 1973. The Cold War is ramping up and the world is cuckoo for all things outer space. Everyone is trying to steal everyone else's secrets. When a Soviet Union pilot fakes a crash and defects in the Soviet's most technologically advanced fighter, the MiG-25., it's seen as a major win for the U.S, Some in the military think something smells fishy. And it's up to U.S. test pilot Kaz Zemeckis and a select few to ferret out whether the defector is authentic or a trojan horse. Rich with detail and taken from real events, The Defector will leave you wondering at which point the truth ended and fiction began. At multiple points I thought, "why haven't I heard of this?" It took me a minute to remember I was reading fiction.

Chris Hadfield has written a fascinating and smart Cold War thriller that Cold War, aviation and space enthusiasts will love. Having not read the first book in the series was not a problem as Hadfield does a nice job of summarizing the need to know from book one (while making us newbies want to buy said book) so it works well as a standalone.

Hadfield does well in reminding us (or learning for the first time) that not all parties were dedicated to the Cold War. While the militaries were saber-rattling and nuclear fears grew, the U.S. and Soviet space agencies had a budding rivalry of who was going to be the leader in outer space. More important to the people working on the projects was moving the science forward for all of humanity. It's a nice reminder it is possible to find common ground and shared goals and not everyone on the 'other side" is an enemy.

A timely thriller from 50 years ago, The Defector is one that shouldn't be missed! Chris Hadfield has a new fan in me.

Thank you to Mulholland via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Defector.

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Former International Space Station Commander Channels Spirit Of Tom Clancy. Growing up, I *loved* Tom Clancy's writing - and yes, I was reading it as a young teen, including Without Remorse in just 8th grade. Here, Hadfield - he the Canadian who rose up the astronaut ranks in NASA to have quite a remarkable career in actual space - brings us a historical fiction / alternate history spy thriller that truly does channel Clancy in both the spycraft and the technobabble. Yes, there are some intensely thrilling fighter action scenes, particularly in the early and late phases of the book. But while there is no 10-pages-covering-the-first-nanoseconds-of-a-nuclear-detonation level intensely detailed technical description... there is quite a bit more than at least some readers will prefer. I personally enjoyed it... but I'm also a guy that wrote a HS paper on the technical specifications and capabilities of the F-14 Tomcat fighter. Overall, the tale as told works quite well, though in the end it does almost feel like this was always meant to be the middle tale of a trilogy. As such, it does have quite a few spoilers for Book 1, The Apollo Murders, so those who are particularly sensitive about those things should absolutely read that book first. But then this book picks up soon after, and trust me... you're gonna want to read this one too. Very much recommended.

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CW/TW: war, death, murder, poisoning, animal cruelty

Initially, the reason I wanted to read this book is because I know what the author did before writing. In Canada, Chris Hadfield is a household name and it has nothing to do with his ability to play hockey. Hadfield is a household name because he in an fighter pilot turned astronaut. When I requested the ARC of The Defector I was drawn in by the synopsis, and was unaware it was part of a series. So earlier this year, I read The Apollo Murders and became even more excited to read this installment in the series.

Kaz is a US Navy pilot who is no longer allowed to fly due to an injury he sustained on a training mission. Instead he finds himself on the technical side of things. His flight experience, the training he pursued post injury, his security clearance, and his knack for being in the right place at the right time, finds Kaz in the middle of some highly classified activities.

Overall, The Defector is a fully immersive read, one that you could easily spend hours reading without noticing the time pass! When you initially look at the number of chapters in the book (over 70), you may feel overwhelmed. But don’t be, as many of those chapters are only a few pages long.

While The Defector is the second book in a series, I feel as though you should be able to read this and understand what is happening without having read the first book. Yes there are references to the events of The Apollo Murders, they are not ones the reader has to know about to understand this book. That said, there are a few character interactions that may seem a bit strange without the knowledge of the prior book. But those interactions are not integral to this story line.

As someone who has never flown a jet, I found myself ignorant of the technical jargon surrounding such machines. The good thing is that Hadfield takes the time to explain the important details to the reader without telling you about it. Does that make sense? He uses the characters figuring things out to help readers understand. This is especially evident near the end of the book as Kaz finds himself flying a plane he is unfamiliar with.

If you, or someone you know, enjoys reading books about military espionage, you should read The Defector by Chris Hadfield! You won’t regret it.

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The Defector is about a Russian defector who desires to come to America. He secretly lands the much heralded MiG-25 in Israel. He claims he is Jewish which begs the question why not defect to Israel. He claims he desires to fly for the USA and the superior American aircrafts. After vetting, he is allowed to defect to America but I question the legitimacy of this as he is allowed to go to the most secret of military venues: Area 51! Would a Russian defector really be allowed such access? It doesn’t seem credible, but it is an interesting storyline. My first thought is the Trojan Horse concept! And the intrigue grabbed me!

The intrigue gave way to two problems. My problem was two-fold: not understanding the extensive and overwhelming amount of technical talk and not being able to differentiate fact from fiction.

I love spy stories, political thrillers and espionage, but this book was too technical for me. I simply could not get invested in the story because I could not get past ( understand) all the technical aerial verbiage. There was just SO MUCH hard science and technology included concerning the development and testing of military jets and missiles! While that added to the authenticity of the story, it overshadowed the espionage storyline. I would prefer reading about the machinations of the defector without the hard core science/ technology of explanations.

The author has done extensive research of the cold-war aerial plays and supremacy in the space race. One can appreciate all the research and documentation, yet this became problematic to this reader as I did not know what was fact or fiction. . The novel is not billed as historical fiction, yet that seems to be the genre since so much of it is based on fact..

Readers who enjoy technical terms of military jets and missiles, etc would enjoy The Defector.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC for an honest and unsolicited review. All opinions are my own,

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I fully enjoyed Chris Hadfield's first foray into thriller fiction and am glad to see it was no fluke. He's followed it up with a crackerjack spy thriller that is stuffed with technological details a la Tom Clancy and nuanced double-dealing inspired by John Le Carre. I was thoroughly entranced by ex-test pilot Kaz's naïve, yet eyes-wide-open, plunge into the cold waters of Cold War spying, along with his quick-witted, realistic and gritty response. Recommended for fans of old-school NASA and espionage stories.

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This is a follow up novel to The Apollo Murders. First of all Chris Hadfield has so much real life experience as a Canadian Space Mission Specialist as well as being a top test pilot for the US Air Force and Navy (along with several others) and that experience shines through first hand. It is undeniable that Hadfield is brilliant at putting enough true events and accurate descriptions to make this read like a nonfiction book. The details in the dog fights will make you think of Top Gun and want to be in on the action. This action packed story is about a Cold War-era combat fighter pilot is on the hunt for a Soviet defector. Readers get ready for a front seat ride in a F-4B Phantom – and do not plan on taking any breaks. This is a weekend non stop read that those who love military thrillers are sure to enjoy.

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The Defector by Chris Hadfield is the follow-up to his novel, The Apollo Murders.

"It's 1973. A MIG fighter pilot lands in Israel with the most technologically advanced Soviet jet. He wants to defect to America with his plane as a gift. The CIA takes him to the US for interrogation. The Air Force eventually gets their turn with him and bring him to a secret base where they test captured MIGs. What are the pilot's motives? Can he be trusted?"

It's nice to have some Cold War fiction again. But there are some big plot holes in this story. Why would you let a Soviet defector anywhere close to the most secret base in the country? Hello! Let's take him to Vegas! What?!?

Plot holes aside, there is a lot of description in this narrative. I would have liked to see more emotion from some characters. The ending is pretty wild and there are a few loose threads that indicate a followup story.

A good story from Hadfield.

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Chris Hadfield’s The Defector is a terrific blend of high-speed dogfights, cutthroat espionage, and historical insights into an era that fans of Top Gun will appreciate tremendously. You’ll feel the high-G turns in this thriller as deeply as you’ll feel that gnawing feeling in your stomach when you realize this feels too authentic to be just fiction.
When a state-of-the-art Soviet MiG Foxbat" MiG-25 with superior speed and altitude capabilities makes an emergency landing in Israel at the height of the Yom Kippur War, NASA Flight Controller and former US test pilot Kaz Zemeckis finds himself in a high stakes game of espionage when the Russian pilot wishes to defect to America. Under the guise of communicating details about his training and fighter jet to the Israelis and Americans, he’s planning to enact a sinister mission and it’s one that Kaz must sniff out before the plan comes to fruition.
Hadfield delightfully sets up a slow-burn narrative that takes its sweet time getting to the climax but it never feels like a drag. The story is driven forward through multiple POVs to emphasize a realistic vision of espionage on such a grand scale while seeming so innocuous. The gentle pacing in the middle evokes a sense of uneasiness as to what troubles the final act would bring, and rest assured the final act is an explosive resolution with a beautifully and deeply captivating and satisfying dogfight in high-speed fighter jets. Even with the glimpse of Hadfield’s superior depiction of aerial combat in the superb opening of the book, the finale just took my breath away just like watching a showdown out of Top Gun.
Packed with historical references that further bolster the plausibility of all events that take place in this thriller, The Defector is an intriguing story that reads more like non-fiction in an uber-grounded tone that resonates with reality as we’ve come to read about it.

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A sequel of sorts to the author's first novel, The Apollo Murders, it is well-paced and loosely based on real-events. The author has clearly done a lot of research and accurately describes even the most obscure technical features of aircraft and sites that figure in the plot.

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This story takes us all around the world - from Russia to Israel and to the mythical Area 51 in the United States - and involves high stakes espionage to determine which country will come up technically superior - the USSR or the US. Kaz Zemeckis is back, assigned double duty to serve as a NASA liaison to the Russian crew ahead of the historic Soyuz-Apollo mission and also covertly tasked with keeping an eye on an Russian defector who hand delivered a MiG-25 to show good faith with his defection. But things aren't always what they seem and Kaz finds himself in the middle of what would be a major international crisis if not handled quickly and discretely.

Fans of military history (especially Cold War era) and Top Gun will love this new novel from Chris Hadfield. His attention to detail made me feel like I was in the cockpit with the pilots at times. I eagerly await what I hope will be a 3rd installment in the Apollo Murders series!

Thank you to NetGalley, Chris Hadfield, and , and Mulholland Books for this advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Having read The Apollo Murders and loving it, seeing The Defector became a must read. I was not disappointed! It’s detailed historical background, which I could relate too, along with it’s believable heroics have made Chris Hadfield a go to author I will read again. A superbly exciting thriller that held me to the end and beyond to the next edition.

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Canadians know Colonel Chris Hadfield as an achiever of many ‘firsts’ - the first Canadian to be a space mission specialist, the first to operate the Canadarm in orbit, do a spacewalk, record a music video in space, and command the International Space Station. This book, however, is written with his expertise learned from his career as a top test pilot for the US Air Force and US Navy as well as his time as an RCAF fighter pilot intercepting armed Soviet bombers in North American airspace!

In short, this heart-stopping thriller is about a Cold War-era combat fighter pilot and the adrenaline-filled hunt for a Soviet defector.

What’s at risk? Well, besides the obvious, there’s also the secret of the Soviets’ ‘Foxbat’ MiG-25, the fastest and highest fighting plane in the world, something both countries see as the key to supremacy.

I loved this book because Hadfield immediately placed me in the cockpit of an F-4B Phantom, made me feel the restricting pressure suit, made me aware of the thinness of the air and how it affects me and my aircraft, and made me experience centrifuge-riding day. He allowed me to experience the best day of a cosmonaut’s life - the day they learn they are going to space.

It was an exhilarating rush.

If you are a thrill seeker, love spy stories about the Cold War, or love reading about aerial combat, put this one on your reading list. You’ll appreciate this story about Area 51, Mi-Gs, spaceflight nuclear rocketry basics, Project AQUATONE, CIA investigations, and the race to secure a defector and sniff out the bad guys! It’s written by someone who’s done it, not just researched it. I was spellbound.

I didn’t realize it was book 2 of the Apollo Murders series, so I’m off to source The Apollo Murder right now!

I was gifted this copy by Mulholland Books and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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