Book Review: I am Pilgrim

It was early on in the year 2014 as I was idling around the Waterloo station waiting for my train to arrive, my eyes caught this huge poster outside Foyles. The poster was nondescript- a black fingerprint of the yellow background with the words 'I am Pilgrim' written in a plain font.  I was apprehensive to pick up a meaty book (700 pages) for a thriller but the cover intrigued me and forced me to pick it up.

This book rapidly blew my mind in the first few pages. The story opens in a cheap New York hotel with a dead body in the bathtub. The acid bath was after death, to prevent identification. Pilgrim- our main protagonist, narrates his story or rather, we just get tagged along with this mysterious man known only as the Pilgrim as he guides us into his world of dark shadows and murky deaths.

Pilgrim is Ex-CIA, that much is clear and beyond that and the fact that his 'adopted' name is Scott, we know very little about him but more about what he does. The book is ambitious with the acid bath murder just being a starting point and the extraordinary plot takes us from a public-beheading in Saudi Arabia to a Syrian Biotech expert found without an eye in Damascus and then through to the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp and then to the lost village in the Hindu Khush mountains of Afghanistan.

This plot is thick and amazing. The antagonist, an Arab named Saracen (basically means Pilgrim in Arabic), is finely drawn. He is not the brain-less illiterate jihadi that you hear on television. Neither is he associated with any organization or runs any propaganda. We follow Saracen from his childhood to adulthood, as Pilgrim unravels the mystery behind his foe, we can do nothing but admire the skill of Author Terry Hayes who brings this entire plot to a conclusion in a flawless script.

I am Pilgrim is worth a read.

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