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Mark Burnell Books In Order

Publication Order of Stephanie Patrick Books

The Rhythm Section (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chameleon (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Gemini (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Third Woman (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Freak (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Glittering Savages (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Mark Burnell is a British author of mystery books best known for his Stephanie Patrick series. He was born in Northumberland and spent his childhood in Brazil, and upon returning to him, he tried several careers and finally decided to venture into full-time writing. Stephanie Patrick Series features a main character named Stephanie, a professional killer working for British intelligence.

The Rhythm Section

The debut novel in Stephanie Patrick’s series is an extraordinary introduction by one of the best authors of the 21st century. It is a story of how a young woman dragged to the edge by the brutal deaths of her family manages to survive by assuming other new identities.

An Atlantic air crash ruined Stephanie Patrick world. Taking over the life of prostitution, drinking and doing drugs, she is picked up by a reporter who discovered that a bomb caused the crash and it’s the journalist murder that pulls her out of herself.

The first in the series is a brilliant read. The odd title that the author gives to his novel refers to the human lungs and heart. A teammate at commando school where Stephanie trains tell her that the heart is the drum while breathing is the bass. She remembers exact words as she shoots an arms dealer in Brazil and as she prepares to a Jewish promoter in New York City.

The two killings are not a means to an end as Stephanie bosses want her to develop her terrorist credentials so that she can get close to the main they’re after, Khalil, an Islamic terrorist resembling Osama Bin Laden. Only when Khalil will be brought to justice will Stephanie be allowed to hunt down the man she is after- the man who planted a bomb on the airplane, killing over 300 people including her parents and siblings.

At first she is devastated by the death of her parents such that she changes her name to Lisa and then dives into the world of prostitution and drugs in London Abused by psychopathic pimps and customers, she is quickly losing her health and even lowers her price when the Keith Proctor, the freelance journalist interviews her about the crash.

It wasn’t an accident; the freelance journalist tells her. It was terrorism. The bomber is still in London pursuing aeronautical engineering, and there’s no doubt that he will prepare more strikes in the future. But for some reason, the US and British governments have not bothered to arrest him but instead got rid of all the evidence of the crime.

Then the journalist is killed. But with the information she has copied from his computer, Stephanie gets hold of a pistol and begins stalking the bomber and when she’s about to pull the trigger and eliminate Reza Mohamed the British operatives who’ve been watching over the bomber get hold of her. She is imprisoned and finally told to make a choice; leave the bomber alone and shut up or join the agency and campaign against Khalil.

So Stephanie joins commando school, graduates and she assumes two fake identities. One as a Swiss chemical company employee named Marina Gaudenzi and second a German terrorist named Petra Reuter.

As Petra she kills, and as Marina, she falls in love with an ordinary chap. Even though Mark Burnell abides by the most convection of traditional thriller- technical details, ham-fisted prose, and some exotic locales, this is not a thriller about the relentless hunt of a terrorist; even though that’s the path our heroine takes. Additionally, it does not story about vengeance, even though justice for her family is all that Stephanie wants at first. Instead, The Rhythm Section is the story of a woman trying to reclaim herself. She has to embark on a journey of rediscovery. She has to rediscover herself through a series of roles and responsibilities she is forced to assume. It’s through her change of identities she’s able to find her true purpose in life. But whoever she is, she is never herself because life heavily depends on her being someone else. This is how the agency that recruits she trains her, but it is also she is has taught herself to be- being someone until she falls in love with Frank White, but this only undermines her and poses new questions- which of her new identities has fallen in love? Is it Marina? Frank? Petra? Or Stephanie?

Chameleon

Chameleon can be used in this context to describe a person who changes ideas or character. This is a word that best describes Stephanie Patrick. A few years earlier, she had been living as a professional assassin under the assumed identity of Petra Reuter. But in the intervening years, Stephanie has transformed her life, and she now lives in a peaceful home in Franc. She has an attentive countryman by the name Laurent with who she lingers with and an income that’s so sufficient to keep her living the life she’s always wanted for years.

But that comfort is soon threatened when she is approached by a man she previously worked for, Alexander who represents a syndicate house promulgating various subterfuges and international deals. She has no desire of becoming a killer again, becoming the ruthless, cold-blooded Petra she was. She struggles against this throughout this entire narrative. Alex has a couple of plans for her. First, she has to find the killer who murdered one of their agents and then tracks down a Russian man by the name Koba and thirdly she has to acquire a biological weapon.

Usually, either of these missions would be easy for her to accomplish. But what she isn’t prepared for is falling in love with a Russian man who’s got many secrets as she does. The second in the series is a wonderful read. Mark Burnell successfully manages to switch from one Stephanie and Petra without forcing it to the readers. The story is told from different point of views and from the first-person point of view and third person view. The author also vividly communicates a sense of excitement and danger throughout the action sequences in the story.

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