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Once A Pilgrim by James Deegan

Once A Pilgrim

Action Adventure / Spy   Thriller / Suspense   Debuts of the Month   If You Like...You'll Love   
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February 2018 Debut of the Month.

Simply superb, this is a dark, gritty and stormingly fast read with real attitude. Formerly of the SAS, John Carr is now working in private security for a Russian, however the past is stalking him, ready to take his legs, and his life. If I tell you that the author James Deegan spent 17 years in the SAS and was described by his commanding officer as one of the most operationally experienced SAS men of his era, it should tell you all you need to know about the validity of his voice. The book begins with the CV of John Carr, it really sets the tone, gives you an understanding of his background, allowing the story to explode from the get-go. James Deegan delivers short punchy sentences, simply told, yet the words took hold of me, dumped me in the middle of the action, made my breath stop and my heart race. Once A Pilgrim bristles with energy and authenticity, it is an addictive, absolute whammy of read and I loved it - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Ian Watkin - 'Within a few pages ‘Once a Pilgrim’ has you hooked. The drama, the detail and the way that Deegan uses his military experience to describe the story is amazing.This is a must read for 2018.'
  • Carole Tuckett - 'A book I didn't want to put down. Many more to come I hope.'    
  • Victoria Emerson - 'Simply brilliant.'
  • Sabine Little - 'A three-dimensional, engaging read, and a fascinating perspective on the Northern Ireland conflict to boot...More please.'
  • Cathy Small - 'a story that will keep you gripped to the end.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'Written by an ex SAS officer, this was one of the most exciting thrillers I've read this year. If you love Jack Reacher, you will love John Carr...waiting with bated breath for the next.'    
  • Lindsey Whittle - 'It’s written in short chapters, punchy sentences and authentic dialogue; if you enjoy Lee Childs, Stephen Leather, Chris Ryan, you’ll enjoy James Deegan.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Quite the most remarkable thriller reflecting what happens to an ex-SAS officer when his past catch up with him his present. Superb.'
  • Susan Wallace - 'A gripping and enthralling page turner.  You must read this book!'

Win Books from the Manon Bradshaw Thriller Series!

Persons Unknown, the second book in Susie Steiner's crime thriller series, is now out in paperback and to mark the publication we are giving away paperback copies of both Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown to THREE lucky winners!

To have a chance of winning one of these fantastic prizes, click the button below. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once.

The draw closes on 30 April 2018. The winners will be notified by 14 May 2018,

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Enter prize draw Draw closes: 30/04/2018


Once A Pilgrim by James Deegan

John Carr has recently left the SAS, after a long and distinguished career, and is now working for a Russian oligarch in the murky world of private security. But an incident from his past - in which three terrorists were brutally killed - suddenly comes back to haunt him. Tracked by a hitman out for revenge, John Carr is forced to step over the line to defend himself and his family. It's a cruel and violent world - and one he thought he'd left behind. But some wars never end.

Patriot Games meets Taken: In Once A Pilgrim, John Carr shows all the Reacher-esque hallmarks of a cold-blooded antihero doing what needs to be done, whatever the consequences. James Deegan MC is a fantastic new voice in the thriller genre, writing with unprecedented authority and authenticity.


`As close as it gets to the real thing' Mark Billy Billingham MBE, Former SAS Warrant Officer and star of TV's SAS Who Dares Wins

`James Deegan write with masterful authority and unsurpassed experience as he transports the reader deep into the troubles of Northern Ireland - and then brings them back up to date with a dramatic bang. Uncertain times require certain people, and ex-SAS operator John Carr fits that bill. A tough, enigmatic man from the shadows, he is brought to life in this fast-paced, easy-reading thriller, and is bound to end up on screen. The character detail is credible but not clinical, and Once a Pilgrim will undoubtedly introduce James Deegan and John Carr as forces to be reckoned with. 'Chantelle Taylor, Combat Medic and author of Battleworn

`authentic detail and heart stopping narrative grips you from the outset bringing the shadowy world of today's special forces bursting in to life in a way that other authors of the genre couldn't hope for....the best thriller I've read in years' Major Chris Hunter QGM - Author of Eight Lives Down and Extreme Risk

'exposes the raw with the reality. This is a gripping high intensity drama'Bob Shepherd, ex SAS Warrant Officer and bestselling author

'Move over Andy McNab and Chris Ryan, there's a new SAS veteran writing thrillers and he's good. Very good.' Stephen Leather

'An impressive debut, that rates up there with Gerald Seymour and Fredrick Forsyth; blending a realistic vernacular of special forces soldiering to make a cracking read with page turning pace from start to finish.' Stuart Tootal

`We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence in the night on those who would do us (and Carr) harm: John Carr is the morally ambiguous anti-hero for today.' General Chip Chapman

About the Author

JAMES DEEGAN MC spent five years in the Parachute Regiment, and seventeen years in the SAS. He served for most of that time in a Sabre Squadron, from Trooper to Squadron Sergeant Major, and saw almost continuous service on operations in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. He fought in both Gulf Wars, and was on both occasions amongst the first Coalition soldiers to cross the border into Iraq. Twice decorated for gallantry, he retired as an SAS Regimental Sergeant Major and was described by his commanding officer as `one of the most operationally-experienced SAS men of his era'. Once A Pilgrim is his first book.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th January 2018


James Deegan

More books by James Deegan
Author 'Like for Like'


HQ an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


512 pages


Action Adventure / Spy
Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
If You Like...You'll Love

Espionage & spy thriller
Thriller / suspense



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