Book Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
I Am Pilgrim is Terry Hayes’s debut book. Scanning the back cover, I discovered that Hayes has written for many TV series, and it certainly shows in his writing. Final word: the book boasts an incredible plot, and some really fast-paced moments. It is definitely worth a read.
Having said that, I don’t think I really agree with terming this book as ‘This is the Book’. I’ve read many other thrillers that maybe weren’t as detailed and thought-provoking as I Am Pilgrim, but were certainly much more entertaining. I Am Pilgrim follows the story of Scott Murdoch, an undercover agent of the a secret CIA agency who is responsible for eradicating foreign threats against the United States. Being considered the best in his line of work, Murdoch (who goes by a variety of names) is finally faced by an enemy that equals him in intelligence, craft, and knowledge. Starting from the small crime of a woman found dead in a seedy New York hotel, the stakes quickly escalate to a global emergency. Without spoiling the plot content for reader, I’ll just say that this book takes the entire crime against humanity argument to a whole new level, and the comprehensive research Hayes has done for this book definitely shows in his writing. Every department, every character has a unique cache of information sensitive to his/her department, and that itself tells how much Hayes has researched to get everything right.
The central characters, while very few, are definitely compelling. The story of the Saudi Arabian boy especially took my breath away. The fact that we live in such a modern world makes the ultra-conservative atmosphere even more intimidating, and shocking to read. Western readers will especially be taken in awe with the whole Saudi Arabian storyline. Having said that, I felt that this book lacked in one major thing – love. The book has no romantic element whatsoever, and that definitely turns the reader off at times. I was hoping that Scott could have hooked up with Cumali – the vulnerable, suspicious lady detective in Turkey – but no such luck. With these adrenaline-fueled thrillers, it is very important that there should be a anchor that holds the protagonist down, to make him belong to something or someone. For Scott though, not only did he not belong to any one place, being an undercover detective, he didn’t really belong to anyone in his past as well. While I understand the whole ‘undercover’ agent thing, I just felt it would have been better to have a love interest pegging him down.
The dialogue is sharp and to the point. There is no philandering, or unnecessary conversations in the book which is perfect since thrillers with lots of irrelevant conversation often end up in the pile of half-read books. I also like the cover of the book. The large paper edition boasts a black cover with a huge, shimmering golden fingerprint.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to readers interested in thrillers, and international relations
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