Two brilliant dot.coms and their retinue steam up Brazil’s Rio Negro into a world without broadband or pity and learn more than they expected about their place in the scheme of things.
With its unnecessary subtitle, Pyper’s follow-up to Lost Girls (2000) is plenty spooky. Elizabeth Crossman, lonely, Canadian, 38, and susceptible, narrates the increasingly terrifying journey of fellow Canadian software developer/floggers Wallace and Bates, childhood chums who’ve taken their show on the road seeking buyers for HYPOTHESYS, the hot new solution to pesky problems of ethics. The boys, accompanied by their token adult Barry, an Ivy Leaguer from the American South; Lydia, a Brit hoping to get pregnant, and Crossman, take a night away from their governmental trade mission keepers and head to the dives of Manaus, the boom-and-bust entry-point to Amazonia. Following the recommendation of their hotel’s gigantic and ominous concierge, the ever drunker party winds up in a bordello where Bates learns that he may not be gay and where the legend of personal greatness he dreams up to impress his whore starts machinery moving that will grind up lives. The next day’s side-trip up the Rio Negro turns terrifying in the middle of the night—and the rainforest—when a gang of Spanish-speaking thugs, possibly Colombian, tumble over the gunwales, murder the crew, and separate the Canadians from the rest of the party to march them through the vines, snakes, and swarming insects to a hidden camp where they’re tortured for the “secrets” suggested by the boozy myth that Bates poured into the ear of the hooker who supposedly spoke no English. Only Crossman is spared the beatings, burnings, and brainbusting, but when the group escapes, it’s the brilliant, beautiful, mercurial, and machete-wielding Wallace who gets them out. Crossman can simply follow, mulling over various fates and her moony feelings for the charismatic software boy.
Agreeably terrifying and all quite believable.