I Am Pilgrim (2013)
If, like me, it's been awhile since you read a truly compelling thriller, this is the book for you. The Pilgrim of the title is a retired CIA (or whatever branch of the intelligence service) man who was first a superstar in the clandestine ranks and then wrote a cult classic on forensics and criminal investigations that got him involved with a homicide detective in NYC, a hero of 9-11. The book begins with a murder in a flea bag hotel in the city, a murder done with such skill and knowledge of that text that it can only be part of a wider conspiracy.
Soon Pilgrim is summoned back to the service to hunt down a lone wolf terrorist, nicknamed Saracen, who is planning an attack on the United States. As Pilgrim, nearly single-handedly, pursues the Saracen, the cases overlap and the scene shifts from New York to Washington to Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to Syria and beyond. First time novelist fleshes out at least the two protagonists, so that the Saracen does not seem merely evil nor Pilgrim merely brilliant. But even as he makes the Saracen somewhat sympathetic, Mr. Hayes expresses real anger at the excesses of Islam and at the dangerous world the salafists have created.
The author is a screenwriter by trade and scenes in the book, including the finale, are needlessly cinematic. But this sort of updated Day of the Jackal is absolutely compelling reading. Let's hope the film is as good.
-WIKIPEDIA: Terry Hayes
-FILMOGRAPHY: Terry Hayes (IMDB)
-BOOK PAGE: I Am Pilgrim (Simon & Schuster)
-REVIEW: of I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of I Am Pilgrim (Jackie K. Cooper, Huffington Post)
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