Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A classic thriller

The Pilgrim is an intelligence agent who goes out of his way to keep his identity secret.

The story opens with him helping a NYPD detective, Ben Bradley at a murder scene. The killer took great care not to leave anything that could identify him or her. However a library card is found and the only book the killer took out was a book on committing a perfect murder. What astonishes the Pilgrim is that this is the book he wrote under a pseudonym.

In Saudi Arabia, a teenage boy witnesses the execution of his father. His father's crime was to criticize the government, his punishment was beheading. Seeing his father beheaded was the first step in radicalizing the boy who would be known as the Saracen. He vowed vengeance against capitalism and thought he would hurt Saudi Arabia more by striking against the United States.

The Pilgrim served as European head of an ultra secret organization, the Division. After an operation in Turkey where his assignment was to terminate a double agent, he wanted a break in counter espionage.
However, he's called back to duty to lead an investigation. In Afghanistan, evidence is found on contaminated clothing that someone had experimented with smallpox. It is thought that it might be from a terrorist who is planning a strike against the U.S.  The Pilgrim is to find the man and stop him before he can unleash his plot.

Terry Hayes has created a complex plot driven thriller. The Pilgrim searches for the Saracen's motives and feels that the more he knows of the Saracen, the better the chance of stopping him.

The characters are fascinating. The Pilgrim is sympathetic and a master investigator. He has given up his desire to have someone in his life so that he wouldn't be distracted from his job.  Ben Bradley became a hero in 9-11 where he saved lives but was seriously injured. The Saracen was evil but we could see how his ideas of revenge developed and his reasoning for wanting to kill people in the hated U.S.

The plot is marvelous while giving provocative thoughts about revenge and a man's dedication to finding the truth.

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