I Am Pilgrim

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A thriller lent to me by my supervisor. It was written by Terry Hayes, a successful screenwriter (most notably, a couple of Mad Max movies). It's very long, north of 600 pages. But the pages kept turning, so…

The protagonist, "Pilgrim", is a retired American secret agent, skilled in investigatory techniques and nasty tactics. At the book's start, however, he is volunteering his talents for the NYPD, checking out an unusual murder scene in a sleazy Manhattan hotel: the perpetrator has used acid and other gruesome methods to obliterate the identity of the victim. And it develops that the murderer has checked out the book Pilgrim had written years before, written to help the good guys unravel lurid crimes, but in this case helping the evildoer commit a near-perfect homicide.

But that's not all. Meanwhile in the Middle East, a dedicated terrorist called the "Saracen" is unhatching a plot against America, one that he hopes will make 9/11 look like a fender-bender.

Hayes takes pains to give both Pilgrim and the Saracen rich back stories and full characters. There's also a fully-drawn supporting cast, both heroes and villains. (How else are you going to get over 600 pages?) My main quibble: unless I missed something, much of the plot turns on a coincidence so unlikely that Charles Dickens might have avoided it.