Wednesday, 4 June 2014

I am Pigrim

Terry Hayes
Atria/Emily Bestler Books (May 27 2014)
624 pages - 29.99 $

I am Pilgrim was released in the UK in 2013 and has now been released in North America (a shame when you know part of the story takes place in New York!) I started to hear about it on the social networks and I heard only praise. I am Pilgrim is a spy novel. However, espionage is not the kind of novel I love to read (but I enjoy watching a good James Bond or Bourne flicks). So I was not a priori particularly attracted by this book... so I took my time to read it and what a mistake!

An intelligent and taut debut thriller that depicts the collision course between two geniuses, one a tortured hero and one a determined terrorist.

In a seedy hotel near Ground Zero, a woman lies face down in a pool of acid, features melted off her face, teeth missing, fingerprints gone. The room has been sprayed down with DNA-eradicating antiseptic spray. Pilgrim, the code name for a legendary, world-class secret agent, quickly realizes that all of the murderer’s techniques were pulled directly from his own book—a cult classic of forensic science written under a pen name.

In offering the NYPD some casual assistance with the case, Pilgrim gets pulled back into the intelligence underground. Meanwhile, his adversary—a man simply known as “the Arab”—is plotting his next move in service to jihad. What follows is a thriller that jockeys between astonishingly detailed character study and breakneck globetrotting. It takes us from Pilgrim’s hidden life of leisure in Paris to the Arab’s squalid warrior life in Afghanistan, from the hallways of an exclusive Swiss bank to the laboratories of a nefarious biotech facility in Syria. Secrets are exposed and tension builds until Pilgrim and the Arab arrive in Turkey—where the two masterminds inevitably meet to face off in the shocking finale.

Like #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor, Terry Hayes takes you on an action-packed adventure to the world’s most dangerous countries in this thrilling, twisting, beautifully orchestrated novel.

What's about that book ?

Because this book is actually a blend of James Bond (for the cultural side and espionage) and Bourne (for the action and tough side). This is excellent, well paced, the outcome takes guts, it's pure pleasure!

The book is written from the point of view of Pilgrim who explains everything, really everything. That is why, even if it always happens something, it's not always in relation to the ongoing story but always linked to the story. We discover the past of the main characters which allows us to better know them and understand what brings them together.

There are books that you love the atmosphere, the pace, the characters, the tone or whatever so much, that you do not grow weary and this is the case here. While some authors could make the book tedious with details and context, Hayes managed to make me appreciate all the parts of the story because he really masters the art of story-telling. Everything is connected, everything comes together, the different experiences of the characters explain their presence in the story and the tone of the book is excellent with just the required touches of humor when needed.

Speaking of characters, we meet Pilgrim, a former very secret services agent, " retired " - despite his young age - who is being called again because he's the only one who can save the country from the imminent threat. We know that Pilgrim was one of the best agents, if not the best, since he said it... I admit that I would have liked more anecdotes about his past to get an idea of why he's the best one as the only details explaining its soaring in the hierarchy of the secret world are a little flimsy. Saracen, the terrorist, is a character that we discover as a teenager and that we follow throughout his journey leading him to his will to destroy humanity, so that you can't completely hate him. And finally, Ben, the New York cop, a hero with a big heart, loyal and reliable. There are other characters that we not follow long but just as well written and who, despite their brief appearance, leave a strong impression in the novel.

I appreciated that the tension rises gradually, as Pilgrim gets close to the Saracen and finishes with a stressful race against the clock. I really enjoyed the clues planted by here and there by the author, foreshadowing what will happen - and it sets thinking - we know that this clue is important but not why till the twist and I must say that a lot of time I found it very good! I also enjoyed the trips we made ​​to cities and countries according to where Pilgrim goes - from Paris to New York, Turkey, Saudi Arabia...

In a nutshell

A first book for this author but what a book! Humor, suspense, a race against the clock, well-written characters and travels. It is a 5/5 for me.

Warning: An e- galley of this title was provided to me by the publisher. No review has been promised and chronic above is an unbiased review of the novel.

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