Title: THE CHAIN
Author: ADRIAN MCKINTY
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Publication Date: July 9, 2019 by Mulholland Books
A young girl, Kylie, is kidnapped while waiting for her school bus. Her mother, Rachel, receives a phone call soon afterwards. The kidnappers are parents whose own child has been kidnapped and is currently being held for ransom. In order to get her child back, Rachel must pay a $25,000 ransom AND kidnap someone else’s child. If she does not complete these two tasks, her child will be killed and they will find another child. If she involves the police, her child will be killed and they will find another child. Kylie will only be released when the next set of parents (after Rachel) kidnap a child of their own and pay a ransom. And the chain continues . . .
(A few light spoilers, nothing that will ruin the book or give much away)
The Concept: Okay, so The Chain is one of those books where you need to suspend reality for a few hours and just enjoy the story. The idea that a kidnapping for ransom scheme perpetrated by the parents themselves could go on for several years without the police or government becoming involved is pretty slim. At one point in the story, it is revealed that a parent tried to “break” the chain in the past, and the ramifications extended back seven children. It’s never quite revealed what that means, but it’s implied that the people behind The Chain will return and kill the children of anyone who defects. So we’re to believe that seven children were killed in the same geographic area in the past few years, and the police never became involved?
However, if you put that aside, it’s very easy to lose yourself in the story. What would you do if your child was kidnapped and the people holding your child were psycholgically unhinged by the kidnapping of their own child? What are they capable of? There is no greater love than a parent’s love for their child. Making the parents the kidnappers is a brilliant new twist on the old kidnapping-for-ransom theme and really raises the stakes for the reader.
The Characters: The main character, Rachel, is a relatable heroine, as is her daughter, Kylie. It says something about the author’s ability to write a complex female character when we find ourselves rooting for a kidnapper. Assisting her along the way is her ex-brother-in-law, Pete, a flawed veteran who struggles to contain his opiate addiction long enough to find his niece. Her ex-husband, Marty is quite possibly the nicest ex-husband on the planet. The story’s antagonists could’ve been fleshed out a little more. They weren’t frightening enough as villains, especially considering the kind of havoc they’ve been wreaking for several years via The Chain.
Morality: Light cursing. Light sexuality. Light violence. Nothing gory or over the top.
Complaints: There’s a lot of head-hopping, which threw me off. And the villains weren’t all that villain-y. There were a few unanswered questions (ex/ How much did the villain’s grandfather know about the scheme?) and some things that just don’t make sense, like how the entire scheme went undetected by law enforcement for so long.
Would I Recommend?: Absolutely. Suspend your disbelief and just have fun. The Chain puts a new spin on the old kidnapping-for-ransom theme by making the parents the perpetrators of the crime. Even the heroine of the book is forced to become a villain to get her own child back. Fans of suspense/thrillers will love this one!
4.0 / 5 Stars
**Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.