The Trade Mission: A Novel of Psychological Terror
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On the heels of his acclaimed bestselling debut Lost Girls, Andrew Pyper brings his darkly musical language, chilling suspense, and psychological complexity to a story of survival in the Amazon jungle.
On the delirious eve of the new millennium, Marcus Wallace and Jonathon Bates, two twenty-four-year-old overnight dot-com millionaires, are on a trade mission in Brazil. Their product is Hypothesys, a virtual "morality machine" that promises to help people "make the best decisions of their lives." But when the decision is made to take an ecotour up the RÃo Negro deep into the Amazon jungle, the Hypothesys team members are forced to make choices for themselves -- choices that carry fatal consequences.
In the dead of night, their boat is boarded by paramilitaries who kill the Brazilian crew and kidnap Wallace and Bates, their two older colleagues, and their enigmatic interpreter, Crossman. Blindfolded and thrown into a pit for a prison, they must fight to find the will to survive. But when the increasingly unstable Wallace engineers a violent escape, their own natures emerge as a threat potentially more dangerous than the boundless jungle that surrounds them, or the gunmen who relentlessly pursue them.
A rare combination of literary skill, contemporary insight, and outstanding storytelling, The Trade Mission is an electrifying read that confirms Andrew Pyper's mastery of psychological suspense.
translator, after all. And translation is nothing if not reading—and speaking—between the lines. A good deal of raw creativity is involved, if I may say so myself. The real work is in making things up to bridge the inevitable gaps that language leaves between us. I often suspect it is not wholly unlike the task of writing fiction: more autobiography than is usually admitted to, perhaps, the collection of observed details, historical fact, all melted down into a credible beginning, middle and
cheeks for blackened teeth. It’s as though my mind can only accept them as men, an interchangeable group of characteristics. Perhaps this is always visible in the faces of those capable of such things. The regular performance of cruelties has made them generic, fused a communal mask of violence to their faces. They notice me watching them and jab their thumbs up at Barry. When I don’t look right away one of them points a gun at my head. What I notice first is that Barry’s body shouldn’t be
unreliable timepiece of all. The gunmen feed us only once a day, or what feels like a day down here. Bring us up one by one to kneel before them, wondering if this time they will simply raise a pistol and put a bullet into the center of the hood. Instead they pull it off so that we can watch one of them dropping a single tablespoon of cooked rice into a coffee mug, then moistening it with a squeeze from one of their water bottles. They pull up plugs of it on the ends of their fingers and slip
things. I look back at Wallace to see if he hears it too, but he only stares ahead. Perhaps to steer the canoe. Perhaps the rattle of the engine blocks out the sound for him alone. Yet it is his name we hear more than any other. Starting from inside of Lydia but passed along by the leaves, telegraphed through the network of vines. Crossman, Barry, Bates—we will take our names with us. But Wallace’s will stay here. Another turn and for a moment it seems that we are headed inland again. But it
long enough, who’s to say it can’t be made true?— —the soles of Bates’s shoes fling up into my vision. A near double kick upside my chin. He’s fallen for real this time. A sprawling face-slide into the gray as though tossed into an ashtray. “Get up,” Wallace slurs, standing over him. Nudges a foot against Bates’s side. “You have to get up now.” Bates doesn’t move. All of him coated with fine dust, his arms cast out in a breast stroke. “I’m asking nicely,” Wallace tries, but when he opens his