A Book Spy Review: ‘The Year of the Locust’ by Terry Hayes


Edging out George R.R. Martin in a race to see which prolific author could deliver their long-awaited follow-up first, Terry Hayes turns in another exhilarating, page-turning thriller a decade after his high-profile debut, I Am Pilgrim, became a global publishing phenomenon.

Separated into four parts and coming in at a whopping 800 pages, Hayes’ latest has the heft of an old-school Tom Clancy novel, though that is where the similarities to Jack Ryan end. Starring here is Kane, a thirty-something-year-old CIA operative (or “Denied Access Area spy“), who serves as the story’s first-person narrator. Following a string of credible threats suggesting a widespread and devastating attack on the United States is beyond the planning phase and actively set to be carried out, Kane heads to Iran to rendevous with an informer who is said to have details surrounding the New Islamic Army of the Pure’s plan. Much to America’s surprise, the real mastermind behind the attack is a terrorist leader thought to have been killed, a man by the name of Abu Muslim al-Tundra, whose most identifiable trait is a tattoo that perfectly explains the book’s title. 

Having previously aided al-Qaeda and ISIS, al-Tundra now leads the new group of terrorists, but this time, he’s got his sights set on something far more damaging than a series of explosions or even a nuclear blast. He’s finally ready to strike a fatal blow to the West, one that’ll keep the region on life-support for the rest of time, and he’s convinced nothing can stop him.

Kane, meanwhile, a well-rounded operator who speaks many languages and has more than a few previous identities, manages to get into Iran, traveling most of the way on horseback across Afghanistan. Almost immediately, his meeting with a well-informed source goes south, and soon, he’s in gunfights galore, fighting for his life in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Hayes lets the action and suspense ride for the book’s first three parts, which make up nearly seventy-ish percent of the story. Then, the real mind-bending twists kick in, and from there, neither Kane nor the reader will know up from down as the story takes one shocking turn after another, morphing into something rather unexpected that, while fascinating and well-written, could be considered a touch controversial. Then again, anyone who has read I Am Pilgrim knows that Terry Hayes’ bold style of storytelling is unique to him and him alone. Finding a suitable comparison would require borrowing traits from multiple authors across multiple genres, which, frankly, this book spans. I’ll avoid spoilers, obviously, but know that Hayes’ latest is every bit as much like Die Another Day as it is The Tomorrow War and that so long as you fully—and I mean fully—suspend your disbelief going into it, it’s a romping, daring, high-concept thriller that for many reasons stands out from anything else hitting bookstores this year. While readers may debate the overall plausibility of Hayes’ story or even which genre it should fall under, there is no argument against the fact that Terry Hayes is unflinching in his delivery and one hell of a writer.

Go in expecting the unexpected, and you’ll walk away, jaw dragging on the floor, stunned and unable to stop thinking about this book for weeks . . . Shocking, far-fetched, but filled with bloody good fun, Terry Hayes comes out swinging yet again with The Year of the Locust, mixing storylines you might expect from Robert Ludlum and James Rollins, with a touch of Crichton and Fleming for added good measure.

Book Details

Author: Terry Hayes
Pages: 800 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1668055783
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: February 6, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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