The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 22

Despite Alexander’s fear that Serra has learnt of Petra’s true identity and gone into hiding, he returns after a month of absence. However, by letting it slip that she knew about Khalil, Petra has made it increasingly difficult to join Serra’s inner circle, and thus she must seduce him so that she can learn of his plans. After sleeping with Serra, she sedates him and makes copies of his files. She convinces herself that sleeping with Serra is strictly about business and it will not affect her romantic relationship with Frank. When she returns home, she lies to Frank, stating that she was on a business trip — and a successful one at that. Later, she contemplates about starting a family with Frank, just as Greta Muller had done. Greta was a German spy who had vanished after working as an undercover operative in Britain. She had managed to get married to another operative and even had three children with him. However, after Greta’s identity was leaked she was forced to flee from her husband and children, never to be heard of again. However, her family remained unaware of her identity throughout the years as she wanted them to remain as safe as possible. Petra considers being as deceptive, as Greta had been, towards Frank if she was to ever marry him.


The relationship between Marina (Petra’s pseudonym) and Frank is one built on deceit. Petra insists that it is “the only guarantor of the possibility of a future” between her and Frank. However, the statement “[l]ying to Frank hurt her and she resented the fact that she found it so easy” shows that she feels guilty about deceiving him, even comparing it to infidelity (Burnell, 193). When she sleeps with Serra, she justifies her actions, stating that it is only for the purpose of gathering intelligence about his work. Towards the end of the chapter, the analogy about Greta Muller demonstrates to the reader that Petra is considering starting a family with Frank. However, she says “I want Frank but I cannot have him without Serra” to show that her future with him relies on the success of her assignment with Serra (Burnell, 198).

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