The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 14

Petra Reuter is in Brazil, where she is expected to negotiate an arms deal with Gustavo Marin, who potentially sold Khalil the bomb that brought down the plane that Stephanie’s family was aboard. Marin has direct contact with weapon manufacturers and had teamed up with Lionel Lehman, another arms dealer. When Lehman was beginning his career in Brussels, he met Gregory Ismailov, an assassin under the employ of notable Chechen families. Ismailov appears on the Magenta House watch list due to his involvement in terror activities and his plan of assassinating the Russian ambassador in London. Lehman is also watched by the Magenta House because of his association with Marin, who in turn had worked with Marc Sera, someone who was known to often conduct business on behalf of Khalil, the mastermind behind the plane crash that killed Stephanie’s family. As Petra inspects the weapons that she has ordered from Marin, she comes across a customized barometric capsule (CBT), a pressurized bomb. She suspects that the device was set on a timer and used to cause the plane crash. Her fears are confirmed when she asks whether she can use the CBT to bring down a commercial plane and the arms dealer responds by saying “[i]t already has been” (Burnell, 125).


Stephanie has been successfully trained as a field agent by Magenta House and subsequently been assigned a case. However, Alexander fears that she will fail to execute his plan because her pseudonym, Petra Reuter, has only very little background and her cover could easily be blown. The audience is also shown that Alexander’s negative feelings towards Stephanie have not dissipated when he says “she had been a matter of permanent reluctance” for him (Burnell, 122). Nonetheless, she is calm and fierce as she executes her mission in Brazil. She is to negotiate a price with Marin for the weaponry, infiltrate his circle, and ultimately make contact with Sera — someone with direct links to Khalil. Her mission is, however, threatened by her temperament. When she realizes that the CBT had been used to crash the plane that her family was onboard, she becomes angry and emotional. The narrator says, “Petra wasn’t sure whether she wanted to crush the capsule or keep it close to her heart for ever” (Burnell, 125).

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