While Terry Hayes is an experienced and award-winning screenwriter, I Am Pilgrim is his debut novel. A taut, detailed spy thriller, Hayes successfully keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat for the not inconsiderable length of this book.
Set in post-9/11 American, I Am Pilgrim deals with some of the international political ramifications of this. But it starts much more simply, in a seedy motel on the outskirts of New York. Or more specifically, the scene of a murder that has been so brilliantly covered up that it will be almost impossible to solve. And one man there should know – he literally wrote the book on it.
A man with many aliases, who has spent years in intelligence work, will take the threads of this murder and use it to solve a terrorist plot that threatens to wipe out America itself. Sound complicated? It is – with so many threads, it would have been easy for Hayes to confuse himself or the reader. Instead, he gleefully and skilfully weaves all these threads together to produce a novel that is grand in scale.
If you like a thriller, I Am Pilgrim is highly recommended. And even if this is not your usual thing, you will probably enjoy the complexity of the plot. This is a spy novel that takes itself and the genre seriously, and you have to respect that.