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Review: 'I Am Pilgrim' by Terry Hayes is compelling thriller

"I Am Pilgrim" (Atria/Emily Bestler Books), by Terry Hayes

A man with ties to a top-secret unit of the federal government has to fight his instincts to stop a madman in Terry Hayes' compelling thriller "I Am Pilgrim."

The man goes by the name of Pilgrim. He's had so many aliases over the years that he has no memory of his real name or identity. When he retired from the agency, he wrote a book on forensics that became the standard by which law enforcement teaches their investigators. Pilgrim lives under the radar, but New York police Detective Ben Bradley knows how to find someone when he's desperate.

Bradley takes Pilgrim to the scene of a murder in a rundown hotel room. With no way to identify the victim — and the room cleaned of any trace material — it is difficult to get a lead. Pilgrim quickly realizes that everything in the room indicates the killer used techniques described in his book to obliterate any possibility of a clue.

This crime is only the beginning as Pilgrim is thrust into a conspiracy that forces the president of the United States to rely on him to save the world.

As a man who constantly lived other lives, Pilgrim is a fascinating character. Being forced back into the game and fighting a man who seems to know everything about him has Pilgrim on his heels, looking for ways outside the box to stop the plot.

The storytelling and a truly intriguing protagonist make "I Am Pilgrim" a contender for best-of-the-year lists.

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