Terry Hayes: I Am Pilgrim (Review)

Terry Hayes


Terry Hayes is a former journalist and screen-writer. Born in Sussex, England, he migrated to Australia as a child and trained as a journalist at the country’s leading broadsheet. At twenty-one he was appointed North American correspondent, based in New York, and after two years returned to Sydney to become an investigative reporter, political correspondent and columnist. He resigned to produce a prominent current affairs radio program and a short time later, with George Miller, wrote the screenplay for Road Warrior/Mad Max 2. He also co-produced and wrote Dead Calm, the film which launched Nicole Kidman’s international movie career,Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and a large number of TV movies and mini-series – including Bodyline and Bangkok Hilton – two of which received international Emmy nominations. In all, he has won over twenty film or television awards. After moving to Los Angeles he worked as a screen-writer on major studio productions. His credits include Payback with Mel Gibson, From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, and Vertical Limit with Chris O’Donnell. He has also done un-credited writing on a host of other movies includingReign of FireCliffhanger and Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster. I Am Pilgrim is his first novel. He and his American wife – Kristen – have four children and live in Switzerland.

Book Description


Can you commit the perfect crime?

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.


This is a book that I had put off several times, every-time it reached the top of my TBR I just felt a little cold, it was just too lauded, too popular. I have had too many experiences where this book or that was the next best thing going.

If I had known Manda Scott had reviewed it as highly as she had, or that it was even half as good as it truly is……

Well, I have kicked myself a fair few times since I started the book, and more so since I finished it. I am Pilgrim is one of the most accomplished thrillers I have had the pleasure of reading. When most stories take me on a journey, I can see the possibilities of the future story, I can see the plot lines, and see flaws and in some failures, in many thrillers unfortunately I can see the predictability. Often there are leaps of super human endeavour to get out of a plot blind alley. Not the case with this book, this is a blending of so many threads, threads that escalated in fear factor, escalate in complexity, but remain human and real, believable and utterly grounded in the real world. The book scared the hell out of me, how easily this could be reality. Terry Hayes not only explores the Human condition, he explores the terrorist, the investigator, the cop, the wife, the girlfriend, the sister, the brother, the son, the family dynamic. So many facets, and yet carried out in such a subtle fashion you don’t realise the depth until you have been contemplating it for a few hours unconsciously.

I have been known to throw around terms like “Great book”, “Fantastic Read” etc. But I don’t think I have ever used the term and also fully meant it. “Mind Blown”, because that’s what this book does, it well and truly blows your mind and unlike many thrillers leaves you with that satisfied complete feeling at the end.

certainly the finest thriller I have read in years, and a contender for book of the year 2013.


1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Thrillers

One response to “Terry Hayes: I Am Pilgrim (Review)

  1. Pingback: Parmenion Books 2013 in review | parmenionbooks

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