Monday, January 5, 2015

Guest Review: I Am Pilgrim

Summary: A breakneck race against time…and an implacable enemy.

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid.

A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.

A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard.

Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan.

A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.

Pilgrim. -- Atria/Emily Bestler

I have heard so many wonderful things about I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes. I knew I wanted to read it and feature it on Mystery Mondays, so I checked it out of the library when the hardcover came out. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading it before it was due! Fortunately, I was pitched the trade paperback version of the novel and my father did have the time. Here are his thoughts:

When I first looked at I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes I was intimidated by the more than 600 pages of small print. However it didn’t take more than reading a few pages to realize this was a terrific thriller.

It begins with a murder of a woman in a trashy New York hotel where all identifying features have been erased by acid. NYPD Homicide Lieutenant Ben Bradley calls in a retired member of one of the most secret US intelligent agencies because he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation – a book that apparently was read by the killer. Ironically it was the same book that allowed Bradley to track this agent down despite his constant changing of identities.

At this point the author uses flashbacks to tell the story of the agent’s outstanding career from his life as an adopted son of wealthy parents, his necessary killing of his boss in Russia to his entanglement with a powerful Greek gang.

As our agent is working the homicide case in New York the book cuts away to Saudi Arabia where a teenage boy watches his father being beheaded in a public square in Jeddah. The boy later becomes the terrorist known as Saracen who is determined to wage war on America. Over several decades, Saracen wanders from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain to Afghanistan to Germany to Turkey. Along the way, with the destruction of America always on his mind, he fights the Soviets, becomes a doctor, leaves a notorious biotech expert to die in a junk yard and infects three foreigners with a lethal dose of small pox and watches them die in agony.

Once the United States learns of the small pox deaths, the retired agent is called back to duty to track down Saracen before he can inflict his dangerous virus on the United States. Using the murder of a wealthy American as an excuse to travel to Turkey, the agent now using the code name “Pilgrim” begins his investigation. From this point it becomes clear that the story is headed to a showdown between the radical jihadist and the seasoned American secret agent.

The author utilizes several interesting subplots, a significant amount of death and destruction and nonstop suspense to hold the readers’ interest. Another effective technique is the use of “Pilgrim” as the story narrator. Even though the author neatly pulls together all the subplots including the New York murder and the murder of the wealthy American in Turkey at the end, he left enough loose threads for a sequel. Since author Terry Hayes is a producer and writer of several movies, it is not a surprise that he is working on an adaption for the big screen.

I AM PILGRIM is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time and I recommend it to all who enjoy this genre.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel and to Booking Pap Pap for his review.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Beth F said...

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap. I've had this on my list for a long time, but I just never got to it. I like thrillers and I'm glad to see this one worked.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that's high praise! This is going on my wish list.

Susan T. said...

I'm reading this right now and it is so hard to put down! It is definitely living up to all the hype.

Michelle S said...

Booking Pap Pap has great taste! It really is an amazing novel. I've passed along my copies to several people and they have all loved it as much as I do!