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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus

Wait--where's the turkey?

I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes

After getting over my surprise that this wasn't about the first Thanksgiving, I found my way into this thick, slick post-9/11 thriller.


I'm hesitant to give too much away.  I wouldn't say there were "surprises" as much as a restless ambition.  Hayes has 700 pages to play with, and he rather masterfully weaves in countless sidetracks (that aren't all as sidewise as they first seem), an openness to backstory--particularly the rich stews of motivation for his two central characters.  A good percentage of the pleasures in this novel--and it's a real pleasure to read--are in the dialectic of excitement and frustration Hayes produces every time he slides off the central plotline.  (Oh god, but we need to know what's going to happen .... but, holy cow, that's interesting in its own right...)  The book keeps playing with your expectations, and your nerves, and that's a blast.


Tl;dr tagline: A supersecret American intelligence operative is pulled back into action by the threat from a supersecret anti-Western terror threat.  The book resembles most Forsyth's Day of the Jackal, with a rewrite by Scott Turow -- 


Cautions: it's long.  Some of the melodrama is... well, melodramatic.  Having read a lot of 9/11 (and other) thrillers, a few of the stations of the cross were a bit too familiar, particularly the equally-frustrating tendencies to fall into tough-guy oneliners or maudlin 9/11 trauma-nostalgia.  And it's long.


But these are minor cautions, like recognizing that there are long lines and the food isn't awesome but it is still a great damn amusement park.  Suspenseful, smart, and involving.