I Am Pilgrim is unlike any action book you have read. It is unlike any espionage book you have read. It is unlike any thriller you have read. It is unlike any book you have ever read before.
Terry Hayes, a renowned movie screenwriter of such works as Mad Max/The Road Warrior (which he co-wrote) with George Miller, releases his first novel from Transworld Publishers. It tells the story of Scott Murdoch, the best special agent in the history of the CIA, the former 'Rider of the Blue' the man who stepped back from espionage work to write a book about committing the perfect crime, which leads to help being re-enlisted to he front line, and attempt to stop a smallpox being released in America by a terrorist.
We think his name is Scott Murdoch, he goes by three different identities during the book's narrative and numerous flashbacks. That is the beauty of this mammoth book of nearly 900 pages, Hayes allows himself the time to tell the story and yet he writes with such a clear and precise purpose that the book rocks along like a Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code which covers as much in half the pages.
The jet-setting narrative and location jumping will make people think of the Brown novels where protagonists jump on planes as quickly as they change trousers, however, Hayes is of a more intelligent ilk and every movement of Pilgrim is necessary to track down the man who wants to destroy America.
The book starts in New York, with a murder in the Eastside Inn with Murdoch meeting his colleague Ben Bradley. The murder is reminiscent of motives put in Murdoch's book under the pseudonym of Jude Garrett, which leads to the globe-trotting. We follow the terrorist from Iran to Pakistan to Afghanistan to Lebanon. Pilgrim travels from America to Turkey with diversions to Bulgaria, Germany, Milan and Saudi Arabia and back to the climax in Turkey.
However, Hayes loves his characters and wants you to understand them, hence the extensive flashbacks of the back story for all including a clear explanation for the terrorist's actions; the extensive look back at how he obtains the deadly pox strain is brilliantly executed.
Another thrilling sequence is when Ben Bradley tracks down Murdoch in Paris. It is important that the flashbacks are extensive and not indulgent; the fact being that little morsels of detailed information are implanted within them to maintain your attention as a diligent reader.
The reader is rewarded with great chases, shoot-outs, mind games and the tension reminiscent of a Tom Clancy novel, it is fitting that this novel is released a year within of Mr. Clancy's passing as this is the novel a red-hot Clancy might well have written in his day and age.
Terry Hayes has succeeded in writing what will become a milestone piece of action espionage writing, a game changer in the same vein of John le Carre, Lee Child and Frederick Forsyth's Day of the Jackal - writers that Hayes indebted to.
By writing a book of such girth where not a page is wasted and not enjoyed, it might make other writers take note that in this day and age of immediacy and quickness; if the novel is executed well there is still a place for the 900 pages of thriller writing.
I Am Pilgrim is released on paperback on May 8th from Bantam Press/Transworld Publishers