Title: I Am Pilgrim
Author: Terry Hayes
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 18th July 2013
Rating: 5/5 stars
A young woman murdered in a run-down Manhattan hotel.
A father publicly beheaded in the blistering sun of Saudi Arabia.
A man’s eyes stolen from his living body as he leaves a secret Syrian research laboratory.
Smouldering human remains on a mountainside in the Hindu Kush.
A plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.
One thread that binds them all.
One man to take the journey.
This book is completely and utterly addictive. A brilliant, fast-paced crime for the modern age, encompassing terrorism threats and bio-warfare. I loved the little peek into the underground and invisible world of spies – it is so intriguing to see how authors interpret a world we know very little about.
The chapters are incredibly short – generally I like this but with this story it made it too tempting to keep reading just one more chapter (it’s only three pages!). It was an almost sleepless two days….
Pilgrim is a funny character. He has been a spook for most of his life – for all intents and purposes, he doesn’t exist. He tries to retire to Paris, but his freedom is short lived. A book which Pilgrim wrote under the alias Jude Garrett has fallen into the hands of Ben Bradley, a cop undergoing physical therapy. Bradley’s road to recovery is aided by his project to discover who Mr Garrett really is, leading him to Pilgrim’s front door.
The book does skip around a little – it is separated into parts. First we see him working with Bradley on a case, where a woman has been murdered and all her identifying features erased. The murder has been done by the book – literally. This woman has evidently read and adopted the techniques described in Pilgrim’s own book.
There are two crimes which Pilgrim has to deal with throughout the novel. First is the murder. The second is a terrorist threat to the United States. A very scary, biological terrorist threat. Hayes’ description of what makes a terrorist – the story of his life, what drives him – is amazing; I never thought I could become invested in such a character.
The pacing of the book is hard to describe. The book itself is a thriller but each individual chapter is different – most are there to explain in a methodical manner. Yet at no point did the book seem slow. And it just kept getting better and better! This is one of those books I really can’t say too much about, because everything seems to be linked in the final chapters – knowing what I now know, I can’t talk about what happens at the beginning for fear I might let some of the awesome plot slip!
People who like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and any of the James Bond stories will adore this modern spy novel. It is a brilliant interpretation of the changing nature of criminal attacks in the modern world!