The Defector

A Novel

  • Language:
  • English (United States)
    Mulholland Books (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
  • English (Canada)
    Random House Canada
  • English (UK/ANZ)
    Quercus Books (Hachette UK)
  • French (Canada)
  • German
About The Defector:

From the author of the #1 bestselling thriller The Apollo Murders comes the supersonic hunt for a shadowy Soviet defector.

Israel, October 1973. As the Yom Kippur War flares into life, a state-of-the-art Soviet MiG fighter is racing at breakneck speed over the arid scrublands below . . . and promptly disappears.

NASA Flight Controller and former top US test pilot Kaz Zemeckis watches the scene from the ground—and is quickly pulled into a dizzying, high-stakes game of spies, lies and a possible high-level defection that plays out across three continents.

The prize is beyond value: the secrets of the Soviets’ mythical “Foxbat” MiG-25, the fastest, highest-flying fighter plane in the world and the key to Cold War air supremacy. But every defection is double-edged with risk, and Kaz needs to tread a careful line between trust and suspicion. Ultimately, he must invite the fox into the henhouse—bringing the defector into the heart of the United States’ most secret test site—and hope that, with skill and cunning, the game plays out his way.

For Chris Hadfield’s second heart-stopping thriller, we move from Space to another rich and exciting part of Chris’s CV: his time as a top test pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy, and as an RCAF fighter pilot intercepting armed Soviet bombers in North American airspace. Full of insider detail, excitement and political intrigue drawn from real events, The Defector brings us the nerve-shredding rush of aerial combat, as told by one of the world’s top fighter pilots.

Critical Praise:

"A Cold War thriller unlike anything you have ever read! From fighter pilot and astronaut Chris Hadfield, The Defector is a full throttle, adrenaline-laced espionage page-turner spiked with history and intrigue that will leave you wondering if what you just read could have really happened. Get ready to blast off and enjoy the ride!”

Jack Carr, former Navy SEAL Sniper and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the James Reece Terminal List series

"The Defector is an extraordinary novel that is sure to keep readers enthralled. Brimming with detail and realism and full of pulse-pounding action, it's a well-crafted thriller that I just couldn’t put down!”

Mark Greaney, New York Times bestselling author of Burner, a Gray Man novel, as well as co-author of seven Tom Clancy novels

"Action-packed, cleverly plotted and rich with the kind of satisfyingly authentic detail and keen insights that only a writer with Hadfield's extraordinary resume can provide, The Defector delivers on every level. Wondering what to do until Top Gun 3 arrives? Don't worry, Chris Hadfield's got it covered."

Rowland White, author of Harrier 809

"Continuous action, Mach-speed mayhem, sharp intrigue, and well rounded characters—what more could you want from a thriller? Oh, the author is a former astronaut who knows what he’s talking about and a lot of what’s in the story actually happened. Perfect."

Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

"Packed with the kind of insider knowledge you simply don’t get in thrillers these days, The Defector is not just an intelligent book, it’s an exciting book. Expertly paced with breathtaking set pieces, I raced through it in a couple of sittings. It reminded me of Frederick Forsyth in his pomp—highly recommended."

M. W. Craven, Sunday Times bestselling author of Dead Ground and The Botanist

"A complex and potentially deadly Cold War drama... Before Hadfield was an astronaut, he was a test pilot, and this novel draws heavily on his experiences. The characters are based on real people, and the technology is historically accurate. Hadfield’s writing is superb. He is a gifted storyteller, able to take his real-world experiences and turn them into a gripping and intensely realistic fictional story. Fans of The Apollo Murders will seek out this one, but because it works as a stand-alone, newcomers will also thoroughly enjoy it.”


"Real-life figures collide with fictional espionage in former astronaut Hadfield's gripping sequel to The Apollo Murders...Hadfield keeps the suspense steady before delivering a knockout air battle that brings everything to a white-knuckle close. Kaz's adventures continue to electrify.”

Publishers Weekly

About the Author(s):

Colonel Chris Hadfield is one of the most seasoned and accomplished astronauts in the world. A multiple New York Times bestselling author, his books An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, You Are Here and The Apollo Murders have sold over a million copies worldwide.

As well as his time as a Cold War pilot, Chris is a veteran of three spaceflights. He crewed the US Space Shuttle twice, piloted the Russian Soyuz, helped build space station Mir, conducted two space walks, and served as Commander of the International Space Station. He was also NASA’s Director of Operations in Russia.

Chris is the co-creator and host of the BBC series Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? and helped create and host, along with actor Will Smith, the National Geographic series One Strange RockHis zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ has received more than 50 million views, and his TED talk on fear over 10 million.

He advises SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other space companies, chairs the board of the Open Lunar Foundation, leads the CDL-Space international tech incubator, and teaches a MasterClass on space operations.

Other Editions:
  • U.S. Hardcover Edition

  • U.K./ANZ Hardcover Edition

Other Books by Chris Hadfield:
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

  • The Apollo Murders

  • The Darkest Dark

  • You Are Here