I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

I am Pilgrim opens with a grisly murder scene: a woman is found face down in a bathtub of acid which destroyed her facial features, teeth and finger prints making identification nearly impossible. One of the investigators present recognizes the scene - it's a reenactment from a book he wrote about forensic investigative techniques, a very obscure book.

The investigator is known by many names: Ramon, Scott Murdoch, Brodie Wilson, Peter Campbell, "Rider of the Blue," and later as Pilgrim. Ben Bradley, the lead homicide investigator is in charge and he has brought the Pilgrim with him to have a look. The Pilgrim was a member of a deep shadow United States government organization. Its task was to police the US intelligence community - it was known as "the world's covert internal affairs department" or more simply the "Division." As a member, Pilgrim saw lots of bizarre crimes. As the best of the intelligence agents he was known as "The Rider of the Blue."

Pilgrim spent years chasing terrorists and traitors around the world. Retired, he has been asked to come back and find the Saracen, a middle eastern terrorist who became more strident  in his beliefs after the execution of his father. He was a mujaheddin and then he trained as a medical doctor so he could carry out his world changing idea. He sets up his lab in the desert and practices his idea on 3 victims. It is successful beyond his imaginings. Saracen's problem is that there are governments looking for his 3 victims. While Pilgrim arrives too late to save the victims, he pieces together exactly what the Saracen plans to do but then he realizes he's looking at the problem all wrong!

This is a 600 page book but don't let that scare you off. It takes almost half the book to lay out the background and get to the main event. This book races along, layer after layer. It's a thriller in the classic sense. The Pilgrim has a personal history that is gradually shared. Ben is the perfect sidekick and he has his own past.  Plus the story line just moves - the plot line has twists and turns. Everyone is hiding something. Excellent!

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