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115 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond meets Reacher: a fantastic read
If you spend enough time at literary festivals, you come to fear and loathe the 'goody bag' - a delightfully marketed sling-bag full of books you never want to read and don't quite know what to do with.

Until it isn't that: the goody bag at Harrogate Crime Fest last weekend contained a small 'taster' booklet that offered the first chapter of I Am Pilgrim by...
Published 13 months ago by Manda Scott

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars s'alright
The story was good but massively cheese in parts. Couldn't really warm to the characters either, seems like the author has tried real hard to make the main guy 'cool' but he just comes across like a know it all badger. Hes like a stereotypical version of a spy as written by a 45 year old dad, e.g:

"I like rock and blues anthems and I've touched drugs a couple...
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer


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115 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond meets Reacher: a fantastic read, 27 July 2013
By 
Manda Scott (Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Hardcover)
If you spend enough time at literary festivals, you come to fear and loathe the 'goody bag' - a delightfully marketed sling-bag full of books you never want to read and don't quite know what to do with.

Until it isn't that: the goody bag at Harrogate Crime Fest last weekend contained a small 'taster' booklet that offered the first chapter of I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. I read it late on Saturday night, bought the book on Sunday and started reading it on Monday. I finished it late last night and it's been a fantastic week's read: a big, solid, chunky, fast-paced, rip-roaring thriller, the love child of a manic union between Jack Reacher and James Bond.

The pace and international flavour shouldn't be a surprise: from the start, this reads like the book of the film and that film will be a blockbuster. This is a debut novel, and (sorry, this is a cliche, but it's true) an astonishing feat that makes sense when we know that the author has been a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, covered the Watergate scandal and went on to be a screenwriter on such luminaries as Mad Max 2, Payback and Bangkok Hilton. So when we have Bondian 'hero escapes from insuperable odds' scenes set in giant warehouses with ships on gantries being sent hither and thither and our hero hanging by one arm, desperately trying not to be recognised by the Turkish police... it's easy to imagine it on a big screen with all the action and adrenaline and testosterone.

But the book isn't all that: the premise is clever. The narrator, whom we know primarily as Scott Murdoch - although we know that wasn't his birth name - is a member of the US's 'Department' - the spies who spy on spies - a kind of Military police for the CIA - staffed with people so deniable that even the department's existence is held secret. Pilgrim (as he becomes) starts of well by executing the corrupt leader in broad daylight in Moscow's Red Square and his life goes downhill from there until the point where he's asked to be the lone 'Pathfinder' sent out to Turkey to discover all he can about a man who seems to be planning a massive bio-terror attack. Actually, it's *the* worst bio-terror attack you could imagine: engineered smallpox which will rip through the world's population and reduced it to a fraction of what it was at the start.

Woven through the spy-hunting-terrorist plot is a secondary spy-helping-NYPD plot which follows the investigation of a murder in a grimy New York hotel. What makes it different was that both the victim and - so our hero thinks - the perpetrator were women. So we have a possible lesbian subplot which is always entertaining and certainly becomes so here.

The two plots inevitably collide in a small Turkish town, but not before we've been to Paris, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bulgaria and seen side plots in London and Thailand. It's a vast, intricate, wonder of a book, full of clever use of technology and - I'm sure - a lot of research into how smallpox might rationally be spread. It also sounds a loud and clear warning: if the US government's planning is as woefully inadequate as the books suggests, then our civilisation's days are numbered.

I'm sure this will be a stellar hit, but get it early and be one of the pathfinders: It's a fantastic, fun, high-adrenaline read for the summer: just the thing to fill days on the beach or evenings at home.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read, 15 July 2014
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
I am not usually into blockbuster thrillers but I bought this book on the basis of the great reviews it had and also because it was long, and I had some bus journeys ahead of me.
I wasn't disappointed at all. The story is absolutely gripping, I didn't feel like putting the book down at any time; on the contrary, I was compelled to keep reading. I found it a little hard to get into it in the beginning as the opening scene is extremely graphic, and I was a tad worried it might continue that way. However, the book soon moves into classic action territory, with the hero, who I was very sympathetic too, travelling to Turkey and other countries in pursuit of a terrorist. I found the plot believable, and I could understand the motivations of the different protagonists. Also, I wasn't able to predict some of the plot twists, nor did I think Hayes went for a Hollywood ending. Hayes shows a lot of skill in this novel; he follows the classic structure of the genre, but succeeds nonetheless in elevating his book above the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great first novel for Hayes..., 10 Aug 2014
By 
Thomas Duff "Duffbert" (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Paperback)
I received the book I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes as part of a Klout promotion a while back. I hadn't heard much about it, but a free thriller is always good. When I started reading and noted the font size and the number of pages (600+), I wondered if I was getting myself hooked into a long read that might not be worth it. Add to that the fact it's Hayes first novel, and warning signals were going off all over the place...

... but I ended up pleasantly surprised. Hayes did an excellent job in building complex characters in an interesting story. Although he goes into detail frequently when it comes to various scenes, the pace doesn't suffer as a result. And as the story works towards the climax, it's really hard to put down.

The story revolves around an intelligence agent who is pretty much done with his career. He inherited a large amount of money from his step-father, and his primary goal now is to keep his past life hidden from others who would like to even scores. But that quiet life comes to an end when a New York cop uncovers his history and figures out he's the author of a book that is sort of the bible of crime investigation. Their tenuous relationship jumps to a new level when he's called back into service to help find a terrorist who, if not stopped, could take the lives of millions and devastate the United States (if not the entire globe).

One of the elements I liked about Pilgrim is that some of the situations feel like they were pulled from today's headlines. It's not hard to understand the motivations of the characters as Hayes builds their backgrounds, and it made me wonder just how often these situations are actually playing out right now (and will haunt us down the road).

I Am Pilgrim is not a fast read, but it's worth the time. I hope Hayes follows up and turns this into a series, and it would turn into a "must-read" for me.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Promotion
Payment: Free
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 700 pages.......they whizzed along!, 8 Aug 2014
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
Bought this after it was recommended by one of my nieces, who in turn had been recommended it by a friend and so glad I paid the £1.49 for it. Could have kept watching it to see if ended up in the free bestseller lists at all, but because my niece was raving about it so much, I was happy to fork out cash for it lol.

First of all, seeing that it's 700 pages long, was a bit off-putting but once I was half way through the second chapter, I became unaware of how many pages there were to plod through because PLOD I DID NOT!

It starts with the main character being tracked down by an NYPD cop called Ben, who, having read a book whilst recovering from injuries sustained in the line of duty, (spoiler alert if I was to say more than that), isn't convinced that the author of this book WAS in fact, who he claims to be. So he, along with wife Marcie, decide to try and track down the actual author.

Takes Ben and Marcie ages to get to the bottom of their puzzle, but once they do, they track down and confront the person they believe to be the true author. And this is where the original author, (the main character who starts off being called Scott Murdoch), finds himself dragged back into the life he was trying to forget.

The author switches from the main character in the book, to his prey in the next, then back and forth until the 2 finally meet up. Lots of twists and turns along the way and Ben features throughout the book popping in and out as does the wonderfully odd character of 'Battleboi' but I'm afraid I did have a fairly good idea who the 'mystery woman on the end of the phone' was fairly early on, but I'm told by others that they hadn't seen that coming. Maybe I've just read too many crime/mystery/thrillers that I can often work things out before I'm meant to?

I could NOT put this book down and the 700 pages just flew by way too fast that's now left me eagerly awaiting another book by this author! Hoping he's finding the ideas flowing fast because I, for one, can't wait to read more of his work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For all its faults, a bloody good page-turner., 7 Aug 2014
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
I'll say right out that some of the one star commenters make fair points but give them too much weight. The book does have far-fetched scenarios, such as light sensitive mirrors, but since when did a few stretchers get in the way of a good yarn? It also has over-painted minor characters, like the Turkish hotel manager whose charmingly idiosyncatic English would benefit from the less-is-more touch. Most importantly, the author's anti-Islamic and at one point anti-union views cut through the voices of omniscient narrator and central protagonist. But even here I had no trouble separating enjoyment of a gripping story from political opinions too infrequently stated to seriously get in the way. (Those who can't make such a separation might ask themselves why on earth they're reviewing at all on tax-avoiding, zero-hours-contract-loving Amazon!)

That gripping yarn factor gets this book three easy stars from me. The fourth is on account of some superb touches, like the scene where hero discovers real identity of woman phone caller and, to conceal an excitement which might give too much away, simultaneously issues excellent life coaching to an embittered musician. Hayes is also good on adversarial dialogue, a must for me in thrillers, and - like that other flawed but thoroughly-enjoyable-when-you're-in-the-mood pensman, Lee Child - delivers the goods when it's time for the bad guys, major and minor, to get their come-uppances.

Enjoy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars s'alright, 3 Sep 2014
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
The story was good but massively cheese in parts. Couldn't really warm to the characters either, seems like the author has tried real hard to make the main guy 'cool' but he just comes across like a know it all badger. Hes like a stereotypical version of a spy as written by a 45 year old dad, e.g:

"I like rock and blues anthems and I've touched drugs a couple of times and I'm also a wicked spy that knows everything cause I went to Harvard. But I've got a troubled past cause I was an orphan but it's alright man cause I solve everything and everyone is calling me a national hero but it's a tag I don't subscribe to cause I just want a normal life...man"

"I'm also super strong and can withstand more of a beating than anyone else and I'm a wicked shot with a gun, although I'm not going to give you any reasons for how I got like this apart from some training I had ages ago... Oh yeah did I mention the PRESIDENT called me! Yeah..... He said I was totally the biggest hero of all time.....But I don't take any notice. Cuz. I'm. Just. Too. Coooool (and still haunted by the ghosts of my past!)"

The rest of the characters are all just as blah, some with equally unoriginal cheese backgrounds. If you can get over that then the story is actually pretty good in parts, waffles on a bit sometimes. Probably wait for the film version cause it seems at times that's all the author was aiming for when writing the book.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unputdownable bucket of popcorn, 4 July 2014
By 
Weshty (Co.Clare, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Paperback)
I read this 850 page doorstop in two days. The simple prose, snappy chapters and racy storyline propels you to the climax. It's a riot of a read detailing a former CIA Internal Affairs wunderkind's search to stop an Osama Bin Laden type from commiting an atrocity of biblical scale. And we ARE talking biblical. For sheer engagement I'd give it 5 stars. However...

The writing style makes Dan Brown look like Gore Vidal. The text is littered with continual foreshadowing, a mini climax at the end of every chapter and incessant switching from first person to third. The first person past tense narrative a major flaw, as it implies a successful mission and you never really get to worry about the fate of the protagonist.

More disturbing is the degree that it panders to right wing xenophobia. Most foreigners (i.e. 5,000 miles east of Kansas, Toto) pretty much run the entire checklist of stupid, corrupt, lazy, drunk, perverted and speak bad english(!!)...and of course anti-american. Unless they are sleeper agents, betraying their own country and working for the CIA.

The timeline is all over the place, given most events are based two years after 9/11 but it appears to be written as 2012.

Some simple research would have helped. The Meditterranean doesn't have tides (no, really..), diseases and infections have incubation periods longer than a few hours, and a knowledge of indo-european languages does not mean you can automatically pick up the gist of arabic (semetic) and turkish (oghuz) in a few days. But none of this compares to the farcical detective work with the mirrors. All semblance of credibility was lost with this McGyveresque jumping the shark moment.

Still, it was a great read while it lasted, but it won't be taking pride of place on my bookshelf.
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 19 July 2013
This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
I started this book on holiday having read several other crime/espionage books in the course of the trip. This stood out head and shoulders above the rest and is with reflection the best book of the genre I have read for some years.

The narrative style is compelling and although the story builds through a complex plot you are pulled through it by short chapters, well selected hooks and a momentum to the plot that leaves you not wanting to switch the light out.

I can't recommend this book enough and although only just published I now want his next work!!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I am the greatest spy in the world, so ner., 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Paperback)
I really need to stop reading reviews of books. I am Pilgrim was not the sort of book I’d usually pick up. I’m not averse to the odd thriller, especially on holiday, but the whole Macho thing really doesn’t do it for me. This one seemed a bit different though, so I gave it a try.
It’s a big old book, but has handily short chapters for the short of attention. Handy for reading on a long car journey.
The premise is basically as follows: The greatest spy in the world has retired at the grand old age of 34, but has been lured back into the game by an heroic, patriot who saved thousands of lives in 9/11. He is initially investigating a murder, but is sucked in to a plot to find a Saudi Arabian who is about to create a holocaust of innocent Americans by synthesising a super-deadly Small-Pox virus in his garage. Interspersed with this is a lot of angst about what the greatest spy in the world used to do in his early days and about how his traumatic childhood (mother killed; adopted by billionaires and given a prilvileged upbringing) still affects him.

I will admit, I enjoyed the pace and the sheer bonkersness of the plot, but became increasingly unsettled by the rampant Islamophobia and lazy writing throughout. For a highly educated government official, much of the protagonist’s comments appeared to come straight fromt eh mouth of a furriner-hating Sun reader. I found myself increasingly unsure about whether it was the author’s point of view I was seeing; the protagonist’s or America’s. One part of the novel, where people are going to be profiled at airports, states that it will be ‘difficult for muslims’. Why?Does one’s religion appear on one’s passport now? There seemed to be a constant confusion between religion and nationality throughout the novel, which you usually find on facebook.
Mind you, the author was fond of his stereotypes. Americans, by and large, were all good guys. The Cop expresses surprise twice that Americans would torture people “We do that to people?”. Apparently throughout Europe, bars fell quiet on 9/11, as if the whole world was in mourning. That’s not quite how I remember it, but ok. Turkish police are all corrupt. Italians are lazy (and make rubbish cars). British people, and here he bravely moves away from stereotypes, don’t all have posh accents – this one has a thick North Country accent. Women are all beautiful (apart from the fat nanny, or childminder, as they’re usually known if they don’t come to your house), especially lesbians. I was surprised to see Bodrum depicted as a kind of Turkish Monaco though; I think British readers will probably know it more of a Turkish Blackpool.

I wondered early on whether Hayes was trying to emulate Chandler – the quote at the front of the novel and clumsy attempts at his style would suggest it, but it almost became a parody of the spy genre. I quite liked the description of someone having a face ‘like an unmade bed’ – but then I saw it again and realised it was just lazy.
So, if you don’t mind having a load of stereotypes hurled at you, you can cope with a 1000 page love song to America and you can suspend disbelief, go for it. I expected finely drawn, deep characterisation, a more balanced view of the reasons behind the conflicts and was disappointed. Will be sticking to Nick Harkaway for troubled spies; he’s more believable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Thriller for the real reader in us....., 28 Aug 2014
By 
RT Twinem "freeloader" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
Maybe it's something to do with the fact that I am on hols and as a little surprise my wife decided to invite my mother in law to stay...you know the scene :( Your favourite seat in front of the telly is now occupied by the MIL, your beers have all disappeared from the fridge ( or cooler if you are reading this over the pond :) and you MIL has a smile on her face, all the cycling that you hope to watch (La Vuelta) has been replaced by English soap...eastenders...coronation street...and then there's the x factor etc...god help us!! Of couse lets not forget feeding time (at the zoo) all your favourite food and the money in your pocket is fast disapearing...so what's a guy to do but disappear to a quiet spot with a novel that he can just step into...disappear into...become part of and just enjoy the story and the ride for the hell of it.

If you read an average book of approx 350 pages then it's so easy to dip in and out off,and return to later, pick up the pieces and finish in a reasonable time whilst remembering all the outstanding descriptions and storylines. However with a 900 page book you need to seriously think about putting aside some quality reading time, not just 50 pages but at least 200 pages in a sitting. If you do this then you are richly rewarded often with and outstanding story that you cannot help become involved with. I am pilgrim is acturally about a secret service agent, Pilgrim, taken out of retirement to find on of the greatest mass terrorists that world has ever known "Saracen" It is Saracen's sole objective to destroy America by the development and release of a deadly virus with no cure. That esssentially is the storyline but due to the length of the novel the reader has time to get to know both terrorist and secret service agent thus producing one of the greatest intelligent reads/thriller in the last year. This book has movie written all over it...and if like me you find yourself with some downtime, or you find yourself with the MIL for company "At my signal unleash hell" then you could do worse than make the acquaintance of Pilgrim and watch as he journeys the world to stop the evil intentions of the evil Saracen...and perhaps then he could help me with the MIL :)
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I Am Pilgrim
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
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