I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Published by Corgi
8th May 2014
Can you commit the perfect crime?
Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.
But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book.
What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.
Let's get this clear from the off - I am Pilgrim is a big book. And by big, I mean nearly 900 pages of narrative! Sounds off-putting but don't let its size put you off reading what could turn out to be one of 'the' books of 2014. In my head I can already see this being made into a Hollywood blockbuster.
In his first novel, Terry Hayes, has created the character of Pilgrim - a man who used to work for American intelligence units before retiring. But can a man like Pilgrim ever completely retire. Can he ever be safe? His life in Paris is a quiet but happy one, until the day he is tracked down by a New York detective by the name of Ben Bradley. He has read Pilgrim's book, and using his detecting skills, managed to locate the man behind the façade.
Pilgrim is needed to come out of retirement, for a crime has been committed by someone who has also read the book, word for word, and created a murder scene that replicates the book. As the man who wrote it, Pilgrim becomes the man who has to solve it. His journey takes him across the world in a bid to stop a terrorist who is determined to end life in America on a scale never seen before.
The narrative does flick back and forth so if you choose to stop for a breather, then you may begin again wondering where in time you actually are in the story, but the links are necessary for the story to work. And it does work. It's a thrilling journey of a ride, as you follow both Pilgrim, and our wannabe assassin across the globe, routing for him to be stopped, but ultimately wondering if Pilgrim will just be a second too late in the end.
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