The Chain by Adrian McKinty

"They have all sipped from the Drink Me bottle. They have all unwound the clew of red thread. They have all fallen through the looking glass."

For most parents, there is perhaps no worst fear than losing their child. We can probably agree that they'd do anything to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their kids. In his 2019 novel The Chain, Adrian McKinty digs into the depths of just how far a parent will go to protect their child. I first heard of the book when another author, Don Winslow, began to tout it on his Twitter. It sounded like the kind of thriller that I find hard to ignore, so I quickly pre-ordered a copy. Then, as is too often the case with some of my most hyped books, I let it sit on my shelf unread for two years. While time may have heightened my expectations for the novel beyond what it ultimately delivered, it is still a worthy read for anyone looking for a breakneck thrill. 

Imagine for a moment that you're having a bad day. You just got a call from your oncologist that they need you to come into the office for some urgent news. You already know what that news is. Your cancer has returned. This is probably one of the worst days of your life. Just as you're thinking that things can't get any worse, however, your phone rings again. This time the voice on the line is unrecognizable, mutated by an electronic filter designed to hide the identity of whoever you are speaking to. They tell you that your child has been kidnapped, and the only way you'll ever see them again is by following their instructions with no deviations. You've just become another link in the chain.  

This is the nightmare that unfolds for Rachel Klein at the start of the book. She quickly compartmentalizes the news around her cancer to face the more pressing matter of her daughter's abduction. Within the next 24 hours, she has to come up with a ransom or risk never seeing young Kylie again. But the money isn't the most disturbing part of the abductor's request. You see, the person holding her daughter is no ordinary criminal. The person is actually a mother herself, facing the same exact nightmare as Rachel. Her own son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn't also abduct a child within the next day, they will both lose their own. 

The premise of The Chain is quite ingenious in both its simplicity and its execution. Adrian McKinty imagines a diabolical scheme that sees normal people turning into the worst kind of desperate criminals in only a few short hours. The mechanism of this concept lies within the willingness of parents to protect their children at all costs. As each new child is taken, the next parent must pay a ransom and kidnap another child, thus feeding into the chain in an endless cycle. From the opening pages, I was glued to this narrative, unable to look away from the terrifying story as it unfolded. The genius of McKinty's writing in this work is his ability to balance relatable characters with an unrelenting pace. Seriously, I tore through this novel within a few hours but was surprised at how nuanced the character work actually was. The book isn't without its flaws, and I found the last act unworthy of the brilliant setup that preceded it. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more original and engaging read. 

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads

(2021, 37)

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 10, 2021 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

16 Responses to “The Chain by Adrian McKinty”

  1. This one's been on my TBR list probably since it came out. It's such a chilling premise. I'm glad to know it's a book that's worth reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hook to this one is pretty undeniable!

      Delete
  2. I could see a storyline like this making for a good movie too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this has been picked up by a studio! And I agree, it would make a really awesome movie!

      Delete
  3. That really is a parent's worst nightmare. The premise reminds me of those stories where they require you to kill someone to save yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? I've read books with similar set ups before, but nothing to this level of depravity.

      Delete
  4. I remember seeing this book around but didn't know what it was about. What a crazy premise! I am so glad you enjoy this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was all anyone seemed to be reading when it released. I'm glad I waited a bit though. I think it helped to temper my expectations.

      Delete
  5. Such a chilling premise! Glad to hear it was a hit, Ethan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The subject has me stomach in knots but at the same time your review makes me want to dive in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. McKinty definitely uses the anxiety conjured by his setup to his advantage. I promise you won't be able to stop reading!

      Delete
  7. I'm gonna assume that there was a reason she doesn't just call the goddamn police! Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I came over to link to your review of Come Closer to add to my review and stumbled on this one, not sure how I missed it but you can bet it is on my Kindle now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one looses a bit of steam toward the end, but is quite terrifying and original!

      Delete

Powered by Blogger.