May 27, 2014/ ISBN 9781439177723
Thriller / Espionage
by Elise Cooper
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 storyline.
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 too much detail, when exploring the backstory of the
antagonist and protagonist considering the book is over six-hundred
Hayes noted, “I wrote a large backstory to bond the reader
to the character. There will be less of this in future books,
although I do like big epic and complicated stories.”
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
In the Saracen’s backstory his father, a native Saudi
Arabian, is 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.
The author commented, “I have been to most of the settings
in the book except Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. I really hope
people think about some of the issues of the world we live in.
Specifically the rise of extremist people and the dangers they
can impose with thesenew technologies. Think how dangerous it
is to have all this information hemorrhaged on the Internet.
This is the double edge sword of freedom. I showed this through
the quote in my book, ‘He said he’d learned that
when millions of people, a whole political system, countless
numbers of citizens who believed in God, said they were going
to kill you-just listen to them.’ Just as with the Nazis
in the past, today no one is listening to the Islamic world
that are telling us they want to kill us. People have this propensity
to get on with their lives so they don’t listen. I wanted
to show that people have not listened in the past so why would
they listen now.”
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 read.