One of the hottest titles this summer - I am Pilgrim * * * by Terry Hayes, a debut espionage thriller, and "a breakneck story reminiscent of John le Carré and Robert Ludlum at their finest."
A young boy watches as his father is publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.
In Damascus, a notorious Syrian biotech expert is found eyeless in a junkyard.
When a young woman is murdered in a seedy hotel near Ground Zero, lying face down in a pool of acid, teeth missing and fingerprints gone, NYPD homicide detective Ben Bradley calls in his long time friend, a retired, reclusive CIA operative to join the investigation. Code named Pilgrim, he immediately recognizes these techniques as ones pulled directly from his book, a cult classic of forensic science, written under a pen name. What follows is a thriller that jockeys between astonishingly detailed character study and breakneck globetrotting, pitting Pilgrim against an adversary known only as the Saracen who has devoted his life in service to jihad. His ultimate weapon - a synthesized fast-acting form of the smallpox virus that cannot be stopped. His target - the continental US.
The inevitable encounter between Pilgrim and the Saracen will come in Turkey, around the murder of a wealthy American, in a thrilling, twisting, beautifully orchestrated finale.
"Two psychos enter, and one psycho leaves. Good entertainment for readers with a penchant for mayhem, piles of bodies and a lethal biochemical agent or two."
Debut novelist Terry Hayes began his career as a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald, and a foreign correspondent in the US during Watergate. He is also a screenwriter and producer.
* * * = 3 starred reviews