Excerpt from I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

I Am Pilgrim

A Thriller

by Terry Hayes

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes X
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2014, 624 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2014, 624 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

There is no terror so consistent, so elusive to describe, as that which haunts a spy in a strange country.
John le Carré, The Looking Glass War

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.
Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder

Part One
Chapter One

THERE ARE PLACES I'LL REMEMBER ALL MY LIFE – RED SQUARE WITH A hot wind howling across it, my mother's bedroom on the wrong side of 8-Mile, the endless gardens of a fancy foster home, a man waiting to kill me in a group of ruins known as the Theatre of Death.

But nothing is burnt deeper in my memory than a walk-up in New York – threadbare curtains, cheap furniture, a table loaded with tina and other party drugs. Lying next to the bed are a handbag, black panties the size of dental floss and a pair of six-inch Jimmy Choo's. Like their owner, they don't belong here. She is naked in the bathroom – her throat cut, floating face down in a bathtub full of sulphuric acid, the active ingredient in a drain cleaner available at any supermarket.

Dozens of empty bottles of the cleaner – DrainBomb, it's called – lie scattered on the floor. Unnoticed, I start picking through them. They've all got their price tags still attached and I see that, in order to avoid suspicion, whoever killed her bought them at twenty different stores. I've always said it's hard not to admire good planning.

The place is in chaos, the noise deafening – police radios blaring, coroner's assistants yelling for support, a Hispanic woman sobbing. Even if a victim doesn't know anyone in the world, it seems like there's always someone sobbing at a scene like this.

The young woman in the bath is unrecognizable – the three days she has spent in the acid have destroyed all her features. That was the plan, I guess – whoever killed her had also weighed down her hands with telephone books. The acid has dissolved not only her fingerprints but almost the entire metacarpal structure underneath.

Unless the forensic guys at the NYPD get lucky with a dental match, they'll have a helluva time putting a name to this one.

In places like this, where you get a feeling evil still clings to the walls, your mind can veer into strange territory. The idea of a young woman without a face made me think of a Lennon/McCartney groove from long ago – it's about Eleanor Rigby, a woman who wore a face that she kept in a jar by the door. In my head I start calling the victim Eleanor. The crime scene team still has work to do, but there isn't a person in the place who doesn't think Eleanor was killed during sex: the mattress half off the base, the tangled sheets, a brown spray of decaying arterial blood on a bedside table. The really sick ones figure he cut her throat while he was still inside her. The bad thing is – they may be right. However she died, those who look for blessings may find one here: she wouldn't have realized what was happening – not until the last moment, anyway.

Tina – crystal meth – would have taken care of that. It makes you so damn horny, so euphoric as it hits your brain that any sense of foreboding would have been impossible. Under its influence, the only coherent thought most people can marshal is to find a partner and bang their back out.

Next to the two empty foils of tina is what looks like one of those tiny shampoo bottles you get in hotel bathrooms. Unmarked, it contains a clear liquid – GHB, I figure. It's getting a lot of play now in the dark corners of the Web: in large doses it is replacing rohypnol as the date-rape drug of choice. Most music venues are flooded with it: clubbers slug a tiny cap to cut tina, taking the edge off its paranoia. But GHB also comes with its own side effects – a loss of inhibitions and a more intense sexual experience. On the street one of its names is Easy Lay. Kicking off her Jimmy's, stepping out of her tiny black skirt, Eleanor must have been a rocket on the Fourth of July.

Copyright © Terry Pilgrim 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Smallpox

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Force of Nature
    by Jane Harper

    A riveting, tension-driven thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.