review

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

pilgrimI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Atria Books, 2014

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Pilgrim is a former American intelligence officer in various secret and not-secret agencies and divisions, and in the beginning of the novel he investigates murders in the US and Turkey. He also takes on an anti-terrorism position later in the book, and the murder investigation merges with his anti-terror mission.  The actual investigations and chase of a terrorist take a back seat to his career and personal histories for a large portion of the novel, but everyone’s background and motives are important.

Despite the length, the plot is brisk: there are quite a few action set-pieces that kept me interested. I have to admit that Pilgrim does use a lot of cliches or leaden phrases in his account of this investigation, and that detracted from the story, and I was also a bit unthrilled with the action set-pieces that seemed to give Pilgrim superpowers, but I think that’s part of the action-thriller genre. I’m still not in love with spy novels after reading, but it’s a perfectly readable story for the summer.

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14 thoughts on “I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes”

  1. I just started this book; I am about 25 pages in. Quite a ways to go. So far, so good. I do like spy fiction quite a bit. Since I rarely buy and read a book as soon as it is available, I sure hope I like it.

    1. I hope you like it, Tracy. I’m not a big spy fiction person though I do seem to watch lots of movies and tv shows with spies (just started The Americans). I’m headed over to your blog to catch up in a moment.

  2. It was a book that overall I enjoyed. At the same time I had enough reservations I wrote a post about my issues with the book. I still think it will be a big seller this summer in North America.

    1. Interesting post, Bill, and thanks for the comment. It felt a bit like a superhero book to me, and I think so much depends on how much you can suspend disbelief. I’m not always great at that.

  3. It’s a perfect beach read – and I’m not a fan of spy fiction either. I just had to close my eyes a little to some plot implausibilities, but the story sort of sweeps you along, doesn’t it?

  4. Hmm, I do love a good spy novel like le Carre but that page count is off-putting. Good to know it moves fast.

  5. Not my thing, not the super-hero with super-powers, the spy stuff, the need to suspend disbelief – – or the length. I’ll find some calm, nonbrutal, nondoorsteps to read over the summer. With a garguantuan list, it’ll be hard to pick a few realistic reads.

    1. I’m trying to think of non-brutal books, and Louise Penney is the first that comes to mind. I’m just hoping to find a book this summer that was as good as Norwegian by Night was last summer. I know you recommend Ivy Pochoda, and I’ve seen lots of raves for Burial Rites, so those are some possibilities. Good luck, Kathy.

  6. Rebecca, the spy elements appeal and the pace, but the super-powers and the length don’t. Knowing me I’ll wait until I see a bargain copy somewhere, then buy it and bury it in the stacks.

  7. Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti books are not brutal. They’re more reflective. There is a minimum of violence, and that is not enough to bother me.
    Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski’s books can have a bit of violence, but the overall tone of the books, the lightness, wit and presence of dogs and friends outweigh the brutality. That is not true of her recent book, which is excellent, but does flashback to some WWII horrors, enough to stick in my mind for a long time. Also, it brings up the A-bomb testing in 1950s Nevada, not pleasant images.
    Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street is multi-faceted, but good.
    Books by Welsh librarian, Mari Strachan, The Earth Hums in B Flat and Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers are good and don’t rattle the reader.

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