The Chain by Adrian McKinty is an intelligent, well-plotted novel with some seriously intense themes. Part one of this book was completely unputdownable; I raced through the first 200 pages like a madwoman and it was insane. Part two fell a bit short for me, as while it continued the story, it certainly felt less than necessary, but it was still heavily action-packed, but perhaps took the ending to a gorier place than I expected.
The premise is fairly simple: someone has taken your child. To get them back, you must kindap another child, and that family must continue the chain. If you tell the police, your child dies and you die and they will move on to another victim. With communication being done through the dark web, and burner phones, how is anybody ever supposed to safely break the chain? Rachel doesn’t want to find out.
Part one of this book focuses on Rachel’s daughter, Kylie being kidnapped and them becoming part of the chain. Part two focuses on Rachel’s vendetta against the chain and her pursuit of their demise.
Why I liked this book
The Chain is clever in its simplicity. The format of the crime is set up so it can be independently run; the master manipulators behind the chain don’t often need to get involved, as usually the kidnap-and-release scheme works through parent-to-parent communication. This is why part one of the book works so well; Rachel, Kylie and Pete’s characters are pretty well-developed here, despite the plot-driven style of writing. I loved Kylie’s resilience, Rachel’s protective nature and the way that Pete dropped everything to be there for the family. Because the crime is so simple, I felt that I got to know the characters and their reasons for their actions very well early on.
The main thing I enjoyed in part two was the history we are given behind the chain’s master manipulators, twins who grew up very messily as children and slowly became more and more conniving. These were not villains that I was rooting for in any way, shape or form; they were awful people and I liked how McKinty convinced me of this so thoroughly, particularly the woman.
On the other hand, it has to be said that McKinty could have made this into two novellas or just stuck to the first part and maybe extended it out, perhaps with some more people being involved and further consequences behind certain actions. I say this because it took me about 2 hours to read part one and about 3 hours to read the rest of the book, which is a significantly smaller portion of the book.
Overall, I thought this was an excellently written thriller. I think people who enjoyed Need To Know by Karen Cleveland and Ask No Questions by Lisa Hartley would enjoy this a lot. I will say BEWARE the last couple of chapters as they are a lot more gory than the rest of the novel. All in all, I’d give this book 4.5* and would recommend it!