This is a 700+ page thriller that will set its hooks into you from the first page and won’t let go. Hayes combines a mind-blowing detective story, an international cat and mouse game and a seemingly unstoppable plot to destroy America to create a thriller like you’ve never read before.
Pilgrim is the code-name of one of the US intelligence community’s best and brightest agents. He doesn’t exist. His past has been expunged. And when he takes an early retirement all he leaves behind is the definitive book on criminal forensics. A book someone has just used to commit the perfect murder.
Meanwhile an equally mysterious man is planning an attack against America. He has been patient, meticulous and thorough. He has worked totally alone to synthesize a virus for which there is no cure or vaccination. By the time US intelligence gets wind of his plan it may already be too late.
Hayes takes us through the murky world of espionage and counterintelligence pre and post 9/11. We learn what it takes to become one of the best agents in their field as well as what it takes to want to tear the whole world down.
I was reminded a lot of Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog (which I think is the perfect thriller) and while Hayes doesn’t dissect the War on Terror like Winslow dissected the War on Drugs he plays both sides of a smart, complex thriller perfectly. Hayes cinematic background also comes to the fore as he keeps the pace and tension dialed up high the whole time as well as creating some breathtaking action sequences. The end of the novel is a perfect, screaming crescendo that leaves you totally drained and worn out. I pity the next thriller I read because the bar is now very high.