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Feb 14, 2014

You can be forgiven if your first thought upon seeing – or picking up – Terry Hayes’ first novel, "I Am Pilgrim," is that it’s going to be less a soaring adventure than a hefty paperweight.

But I’m here to tell you that, at 612 pages, it is worth every minute of lifting and reading that you’ll invest in getting from the first page to the last.

It’s that good.

TERRY HAYES podcast excerpt: "Pilgrim is a guy who longs for love. But like so many people, he's not quite sure how to find it. He says at one point in the book that he wants to walk along a beach with somebody that he can love and not think about how far a sniper rifle can fire. Not the fact you're dead before you even hear the sound."

This is the stuff of traditional page-turners: rugged action, globe-trotting adventure, and can’t-wait-to-see-how-it-ends suspense.

Not that the cinematic nature of this intense spy thriller is by accident; author Hayes has some pretty impressive film credits to his name, including three with actor Mel Gibson: Payback, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, as well as From Hell starring Johnny Depp, and Dead Calm, with Nicole Kidman.

TERRY HAYES: "Not only have I worked on three movies that were made with Mel Gibson, I worked on three others that weren't. I've been through very intense experiences with him. It's a very complex relationship. I would feel less of myself were I to join the pile-in on him. I've never, ever experienced -- in the countless hours we spent together -- any of the things which have occasioned him to be criticized publicly... There are things that supersede career moves: friendship, loyalty... Do I think I could work with him again? If he was in the right mental space and it was a great project? That's a possibility. Do I want to sustain lots of prejudiced thoughts? No -- life's too short."

What’s noteworthy about Hayes’ career—besides the fact he worked with Gibson during the rise of the actor’s career—is that as far as IMDB goes, Hayes fell off the face of the earth after writing From Hell in 2001. That, of course, was 13 years ago.

Did he spend an entire decade writing I Am Pilgrim? If so, it was worth it. But don’t worry – I’ll ask.

 

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