The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 9

The next morning, Stephanie moves to a different hotel where she makes copies of Proctor’s floppy disks. She intends on using the copies and hiding the original disks, as well as the laptop, in a secure location. Sadly, the only secure place that she can find is located in Brewer Street, the location of West’s brothel. Still afraid of West’s retribution, she waits until nightfall before going there. When she gets there, she climbs the fire escape of the building adjacent to West’s. Since both buildings initially belonged to the same person, they were connected by an attic — one that Stephanie had secretly used whenever she wanted a place to sleep; an area that now serves as a good hiding location for Proctor’s evidence. Later, Stephanie visits Barry Green, a drug dealer, who is astonished to see her return after having assaulted one of West’s clients. While there, she asks Barry to sell her a gun. Although he is hesitant at first, he gets her a gun after she promises that she would not use it to harm West. 

Afterwards, Stephanie goes to a restaurant and plans how she will ambush Bradfield, the forger who had created a new identity for the plane’s bomber. There, she watches the news, which reports that a journalist, Proctor, has been found dead in his house. The police also put out an alert to find Stephanie, who had spent the last six weeks with Proctor — as well as a middle-aged Arabic man with a beard who had been seen leaving Proctor’s house. When she leaves the restaurant, she heads to Bradfield’s house, at which she waits and eventually confronting him with her gun. She orders him to get into the house, and where he gives her the file containing the alias of the terrorist’s identity, Mustafa Sela. However, Bradfield had not met Sela as their transactions had been facilitated by his representative, Ismail Qadiq.


In this chapter, the narrator describes Stephanie’s transformation — from a frail character to an empowered one who decides to avenge Proctor’s death. She fearlessly takes up his role in investigating the terrorist who was responsible for the plane crash. Stephanie is so determined to discover the terrorist’s identity that she confronts Bradfield with a gun even though she did not know how to use it. He tells her that she should not carry around a gun unless she is ready to use it (Burnell, 77). Sadly, despite her transformation, she says that the changes are not enough as she “wasstill Stephanie. Or rather, she was still Lisa” (Burnell, 69). This is also emphasized by the author when Stephanie goes to visit Barry. Although he compliments her for putting on weight, he assumes that she had been working as a prostitute, this time for richer clients. This shows that, despite her physical transformation, people choose to discriminately stereotype despite sufficient cause to otherwise. This chapter, therefore, portrays her efforts of overcoming this by depicting her shrewdness while she investigates the terrorist attack. From her decision to make copies of the evidence to sleeping in different hotels each night, so that she could not be traced, the narrator portrays her intelligence and caution. 

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