Current reading: I Am Pilgrim

Friday, 21 August, 2015

With Mad Max 2, Payback, Cliffhanger and Dead Calm among his credits, the Australian screenwriter Terry Hayes could rest on his laurels, but he’s not content with being put out to grass. I am Pilgrim I Am Pilgrim is his debut novel and it is an exceptionally fine thriller. The moving parts include a flawed hero in the form of a US intelligence agent codenamed The Pilgrim, working for a shadowy outfit called The Division, and a jihadi Saudi doctor codenamed The Saracen, who has created a smallpox variant with which he hopes to destroy the “far enemy”, namely the USA.

The action races from Manhattan to Moscow to London, the Hindu Kush, Bodrum and a Nazi death camp in Alsace. And that’s just a half dozen of the global settings. In between, Hayes peppers the story with wry observations about humanity, its habitats and its foibles. In an attempt to extract confidential customer records from an especially reptilian Swiss banker, the Pilgrim takes the man’s daughter hostage and threatens the worst. The banker is forced to choose between finance and family. This prompts the following observation:

“People say love is weak, but they’re wrong: love is strong. In nearly everyone it trumps all other things — patriotism and ambition, religion and upbringing. And of every kind of love — the epic and the small, the noble and the base — the one that a parent has for their child is the greatest of them all. That was the lesson I learned that day, and I’ll be forever grateful I did.”

I Am Pilgrim is a cut above the ordinary so it’s not surprising that MGM bought the rights and are said to be plotting a series of films, similar to the Bourne franchise.

Comments (1)

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  1. Henry Barth says:

    A futuristic book much closer to modern-day reality: The Camp of The Saints, by Jean Raspail.

    The book is full of historical allusions. The title of the novel comes from the Book of Revelation. A character who opposes the armada ā€” portrayed in the French press as a villain ā€” bears the name of the last Byzantine emperor.