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Customer Review

201 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over Jackal, here comes Pilgrim?, August 23, 2013
This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (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.

Along the way Terry Hayes sows seeds that grow in unexpected parts of the plot. Sometimes I spotted the seeds but rarely worked out where they would grow. This cleverly designed unpredictability was to me the keystone of Haye's writing powers. At the end of the book he reflects that he had been told that writing a movie is like swimming in a bath and writing a novel is like swimming in the ocean. With his writing skills I think that Hayes would have no difficulty swimming across the (literary) Channel.

Terry Hayes has had a remarkable writing career as a journalist, and TV and movie screenwriter in Australia and the US and this novel is the start of what could become an important career as a novelist. Dame Gail Rebuck, CBE (Chair of Penguin Random House) has reportedly called it "The best debut thriller since Day of the Jackal". I am inclined to agree.

Note: This book is published in Australia, NZ and the UK but won't be released in the US until May 2014.

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Showing 1-10 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 30, 2013 5:52:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 30, 2013 7:20:46 AM PDT
Bobbewig says:
Excellent review that clearly provides your POV on why this book deserves reader consideration without "giving away the store." I have added this book to my TBR list and plan to read it as soon as it comes out in the U.S. in May. Your review gets my "yes/helpful" vote.

Given our similar interests in books in this genre and, in particular, regarding Red Sparrow and Never Go Back, I'll be looking at more of your reviews.

Posted on Nov 4, 2013 9:01:01 PM PST
A. Chubb says:
i'm looking for a book my dad will enjoy for his birthday, don't want to get him anything too girly that I know I would enjoy. do you think a 50-yr old man who likes ken follett/dan brown/wilbur smith type authors will like this?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2013 9:23:43 PM PST
Suncoast says:
A. Chubb - This is a great covert ops book if he has read books like the Mitch Rapp series by the late Vince Flynn. A safer bet might be King and Maxwell (King & Maxwell) by David Baldacci. It was published by Macmillan in print version in Australia (and I assume NZ) on 1 November but won't be released on Kindle till mid November.

You might get some more ideas from my reviews website that has over 250 reviews and a full author index - I am a lot older than your dad but there may be something there of interest.

Say happy birthday to your dad.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 24, 2014 7:06:48 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 24, 2014 1:59:17 PM PDT
Suncoast says:
No, just trying to be helpful when I was asked for advice.

Posted on May 12, 2014 8:41:27 AM PDT
Am reading I, Pilgrim now and think it's terrific.

Your review piqued my interest - what would be your list of top 10 best thrillers?


In reply to an earlier post on May 12, 2014 2:44:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 12, 2014 2:46:40 PM PDT
Suncoast says:
Andrew - Wow what a difficult question when I have read so many. My top "thriller" of all time is Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts. "It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."

My favourite thriller series is Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon assassin/espionage stories about a Mossad agent who is also an art restorer. The next in the series The Heist: A Novel (Gabriel Allon) is on pre-order for 15 July.

I have listed my top reads of 2013 and 2014 on my reviews website ( - some are thrillers. My site has a full author index to 340 reviews so you might find a few there to interest you.

Best books of 2013 -
Best books of 2014 (so far) -

Looking at your reviews, we seem to have similar tastes. I totally agree that Word of Honor by Nelson DeMille is his best, but I enjoyed The Panther (John Corey) more than you did.

Hope that helps.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2014 6:52:44 PM PDT
Thanks for writing back. Will check out your reviews.

Finished I Am Pikgri. Today and all I can say is I hope the author has a few more books in him!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2014 6:27:50 PM PDT
He will love it!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2014 3:56:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 25, 2014 3:57:48 PM PDT
Suncoast has provided a very fair & thorough review site of a genre I really enjoy. What prompted me to visit their site was the choices that I agree 100% with: Shantaram Shantaram: A Novel (I tell people to just read the short bio of the author. If only half of it is true it makes for a wonderful foundation from which to draw) and Gabriel Allon. I have read Daniel Silva from book one. I have just started "The Heist" The Heist: A Novel (Gabriel Allon)[[ASIN:B00825OS0S and am savoring every moment I spend in that book.

I plan to put Suncoast's choices to good use. A little self promotion CAN be helpful & useful to others.
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