I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes

I am Pilgrim
Terry Hayes
May 27, 2014
Atria Books

With the book, I am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes has expanded his writing resume. Besides being the screenwriter of movies such as “MadMax2,” “Dead Calm,” and “Payback From Hell,” he is now a novelist. I am Pilgrim is both a crime and an espionage story that is part mystery and part thriller. It is the first in a series of three books.

Hayes embarked on this adventure to write an epic espionage story a la the science fiction series, Lord of the Rings. Readers should enjoy how he intertwines pop culture into the story line. But, the plot in a grander scale, is a warning of the dangers of bio-terrorism, which would make the tragedy of 9/11 look small in comparison. He also goes into great detail, maybe a little to much detail, when exploring the backstory of the antagonist and protagonist considering the book is over six-hundred pages.

The backstory tells of the Pilgrim’s early life, affected by being the adopted son of a wealthy family. Having always been a loner he fits in perfectly to the job as a covert US government agent, becoming a man who seems not to exist. After an assignment in Russia, he retires anonymously. Pilgrim writes a book, under a pseudonym, about the forensic background to the perfect crime. Not able to live in blissful retirement, he is called back to duty to find a terrorist, the Saracen, who threatens to cause a catastrophic disaster. Hayes intertwines the motivations, reactions, and emotions of Pilgrim and his enemy rival.

The Saracen’s backstory has his father, a native Saudi Arabian, beheaded by the monarchy for speaking badly against the kingdom. He seeks revenge against Saudi Arabia by planning a massive terrorist attack against the US, the Saudi’s evil ally. He becomes a ruthless terrorist who wants to inflict pain and tragedy upon Americans.

The plot begins with the NYPD investigating the perfect murder. Throughout the book this “who done it” mystery is intertwined with the espionage thriller scenes. Pilgrim must beat the time clock knowing his actions and plans need to be cleverer then the enemy he is pursuing. He must utilize all his wits, intelligence, and experience to win the mental battle with this devious enemy. The action includes the many different settings of the US, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey. This roller coaster ride of places takes the reader on an incredible journey into the world of espionage.

I am Pilgrim is an all too realistic tale of the dangers the next generation of terrorists can catastrophically impose. The well-developed characters and the non-stop action combine to produce a page-turning unpredictable plot.

Elise Cooper