The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 16

Petra returns to London and goes to see a doctor who tends to her gunshot wound. Afterwards, she goes to the Magenta House offices to see Alexander. She suspects that he intentionally hid the fact that Marin had been involved in the Mechelen incident. In Mechelen, a Scottish gang had learnt of a cocaine shipment that was being transported by a truck from the Belgian local law enforcement. The trio — comprising of two men and a lady, by the name of Anna Gerrets — had attempted to seize the shipment, but failed. The confrontation with police led to the two men being killed, and Anna narrowly escaping after she was shot. Later, Anna was mysteriously drowned in a pool, but any information surrounding her death was kept secret by Magenta House. They fabricated a story that Anna had defected from the gang a year before their attempt to seize the gun shipment. Furthermore, the organization creates a façade that the woman was really Petra Reuter, a fierce underworld crime figure who led the two men in ambushing the shipment because it contained firearms, not cocaine. This backstory was used to create Stephanie’s new identity of Petra Reuter. Sadly, with her new identity, she is forced to be violent, which ultimately fills her with remorse and sadness. After she leaves Alexander’s office, she goes to the grocery store where she meets one of her current neighbors, Frank White. 


The narrator describes Petra as “automatic and lethal, an entity without conscience” because she transitions into a tactical and ruthless field agent for Magenta House (Burnell, 141). She also compares her murderous instinct to being programmed like a machine and trained by Boyd to be lethal. Although Stephanie wants to assure herself that she has become void of any emotions in her new identity, Petra, she is still psychologically affected by her actions. This is shown to the reader when she meets Frank, her neighbor, in the grocery store. When he tells her that she is shaking and appears to be a little confused, the narrator portrays how Marin’s death has devastated her, and all she can think about are his five children who are suddenly without a father. Her deeply emotional thoughts are triggered by her memory of losing her own parents to the plane crash. 

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