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I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller Hardcover – May 27, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 4,991 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Pilgrim Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: Two men, both attempting to remain invisible to the world around them, are unknowingly at odds. “Pilgrim” is an American intelligence operative who, despite wanting to retire to a “normal” life, stumbles upon the biggest case of his career. His story starts with an unrelated murder in a seedy New York hotel room and quickly escalates to a matter of national security. The events unfold in slow motion, and we see the past and present from both Pilgrim’s perspective and that of his unknown adversary, a man of single-minded devotion and incredible danger. In his debut novel, Hollywood screenwriter and producer Terry Hayes has concocted a riveting 600-page read that is part police procedural, part international spy thriller, and all ready for adaptation. --Robin A. Rothman

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*Starred Review* It looks like the perfect murder: an unidentifiable victim—a young woman found in a low-rent Manhattan hotel, face down in a bathtub of acid, teeth removed, fingerprints and face gone, and a murder scene devoid of fingerprints, DNA, or any other identifiers. The homicide detective in charge, Ben Bradley, is a long time friend of Pilgrim, a retired CIA operative who has penned a textbook on criminal investigations that the murderer has apparently read. Pilgrim, retired and reclusive, is drawn into the case by Bradley and is quickly in the middle of an international manhunt moving through the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. This is more than just a murder mystery; there is also a biological threat against the U.S., which ties into the murder. The characters are skillfully brought to life in this action-packed worldwide adventure, and Pilgrim is a quick-witted and thoroughly fascinating protagonist. Growing up as the adopted son in a very wealthy family, he is a brilliant loner recruited by the Division, a top-secret black ops group that is eventually disbanded. His adversary here, another loner, nicknamed Saracen, grew up in Saudi Arabia, where his father was beheaded for criticizing the king; international politics makes for fascinating backstory. The novel is gruesome at times, but none of the violence is gratuitous, and unfortunately, it all feels quite real and believable. Don’t be put off by the length of this book. The story is tightly plotted, and the pages fly by ferociously fast. Simply unputdownable. --Stacy Alesi
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; 1st Printing edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439177724
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439177723
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,991 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is definitely the best covert ops/terrorism/murder book I have read this year. Whether it gets into my top 10 best thrillers depends on how long it remains in my memory. There is a lot to remember in a complex 700 page book that left me with so many impressions - intelligent and clever, superbly and deeply plotted, brilliant characterisation, ambitious, enthralling, page-turning, action-packed and mostly unpredictable.

Pilgrim is the codename chosen by a man who doesn't want to exist. An adopted son of a wealthy family he has always been a loner and after college becomes part of an unknown covert US government group. After becoming the star operator in the group in an operation in Russia he goes into anonymous retirement and writes an obscure book under a pseudonym about the forensic background to the perfect crime. Can anyone commit the perfect crime using this information?

On the other side of the world in Saudi Arabia another youth grows up in a world where his father is beheaded for being reported to the secret police for criticising the King. This leads him into a life dedicated to Islam but also a life dedicated to eliminating the US, the country who supports the Saudi regime and fights his fundamentalist Islamic ideals. This is the birth of a terrorist called Saracen, a loner with long term plans to change the world.

Hayes takes us on an epic and unpredictable journey by Pilgrim to solve a perfect crime and at the same time find Saracen before he can deliver a far greater blow to the US than a nuclear holocaust. The action moves from the US to Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey in a maze of seemingly unconnected events and builds up to a potentially cataclysmic ending.
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Format: Paperback
I won't provide a summary of the plot in my review as this can be obtained in the Book Description on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I'll just say that what starts off as a very challenging murder investigation turns into a break-neck race against time by the former head of a secret US government organization to try to stop a terrorist attack that could bring the US to the brink of disaster. To say more than this runs the risk of providing spoilers or, at a minimum, to potentially detract from your ability to find out for yourself what occurs in the book.

After reading the first 100 or so pages of the 624-page Kindle edition of I Am Pilgrim, I was sure that this book was on its way to receiving a 5-star rating from me. However, the next 400 or so pages were so descriptive of every move and thought by the "good guy" and the "bad guy" with little action and thrills occurring on these pages that I often found myself just "eyeballing" many pages, with the hope that the book's pace would fulfill my ingoing expectations for an action-packed thriller. A more secondary issue I had with this book is that, while it was very descriptive of many elements pertaining to the main characters' behaviors and attitudes, it did not provide me with a strong enough sense of what they LOOKED like so that I could form a picture of them in my mind. As such, they came off as sort of "faceless" people to me.

Ultimately, my expectations were fulfilled in the last 75 pages or so -- and I Am Pilgrim fulfilled my expectations during these pages in a BIG way! I found that I couldn't turn these last pages fast enough to find out how the book ended.
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9 Comments 157 of 179 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition
An extremely literate story about a battle between two titans of their respective sides. One is an American, adopted son of a family with a great deal of privilege, currently an agent for a U.S. government agency only depicted as higher than the CIA. The other is a poor Arab boy born in Saudi Arabia but turned into a terrorist by the Saudi's execution of his father for no apparent reason. The American uses the name of Pilgrim in order to hide his real identity and has become one of the most effective agents his agency has. The Arab is turned onto terrorism by the Saudi's execution of his father just because the man spoke badly of the king. He decides that revenge against Saudi Arabia would be best served by a massive terrorist attack on the United States, which he deems the Saudi's ally. He proceeds to buildup a well prepared background becoming known as the Saracen in order to effect this attack.
Hayes is brilliant in developing the two characters, their motivations, their reactions to each other as mortal enemies. The reader knows each one intimately through the author's descriptions and can relate to their actions on an ongoing basis. What the Saracen decides to use to attack the United States demands a preparation that only a very bright mind could conceive of and work towards. It is a credible threat that the reader will be able to identify as possible. Pilgrim's planning and actions against this enemy must be even more clever in order to win the mental battle between them.
The action moves back and forth starting with a murder investigation in New York and ending in Turkey.
Hayes, in an afterward, indicates that film rights are in process and I would certainly be a fan of that if it comes out. In the meanwhile I do trust that the author is planning more books for the near future, and those I will grab as soon as available.
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