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 Río 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.
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February 18, 2003
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Excerpt from The Trade Mission by Andrew Pyper
They are only boys.
Tall enough to be men but something gives them away, even with parka hoods pulled tight over their heads. From a distance they might appear as two swaying drunks debating over which of the paths ahead will lead them home. But look at their faces: freckles standing out against bloodless cheeks, chapped lips held tight against the wind. Their fear is neither a child's nor a man's. Nothing is real enough to be entirely believed by boys like these, although they'd like to believe in something if it might make them look a year or two older. But for now they're too in-between, afloat in the not-quite-thereness of their boyhoods. Look at their faces: sometimes their eyes show a hurt they haven't even lived through yet. It's like a vision the two of them have shared, a premonition of the life ahead as an ongoing trade of damages. It's why boys sleep as much as they do. And in their dreams they are caped crusaders. Human but with impossible talents like x-ray vision or freezing breath or flight. Dreams that often end badly nevertheless, with an assassin's blade slicing their throats or tumbling out of the sky to gasp awake before they hit the ground.
"What's it say "
"That way, I think."
"Which way "
"Through there. North."
The slightly taller one returns the compass to the inside pocket of his parka and points a trembling finger into the trees that surround them. It's officially winter, but up until a couple hours ago the snow had been cagey, dusting and melting and looping around but refusing to settle in for good. Now it's coming down straight as marbles.
"It's getting dark," the shorter one says, and it is, the sky a purple sheet lowering over the cedar branches. It's also getting cold. A drop of several degrees within a minute of the sun's retreat.