Friday 20 September 2019



You are a parent. Your phone rings. You answer it. It's a panicked stranger.

They tell you that they have kidnapped your child.

The stranger then explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger.

Their child will be released only when you kidnap a new child.

Your child will be released only when, after you kidnap the new child, that child's parents kidnap yet another child.

And most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don't kidnap a child, or if the next parents don't kidnap a child, your child will be murdered.

You are now part of The Chain. 

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn't do as she's told, the boy will die.

I suppose if I had read this ten years ago when my children were at a more vulnerable age, as opposed to grown adults, I may have been more petrified by the narrative. That said you'd need a heart of stone not to feel Rachel's pain. She's our main character and she's been having a tough time of things - battling cancer and getting used to the fact that her husband, Marty traded her in for a younger model. On her way to a medical appointment, she gets the call - Kylie, her daughter has been kidnapped, photo confirmation soon confirms this and she's now part of the chain. Pay up, kidnap another child, when their parents pay, your daughter will be released. Simples.

I quite liked this one without ever being totally enthralled. Rachel enlists her brother in law, Pete as support. He's ex-military and a drug addict. Without giving all the plot away, the pair do the deed and struggle to cope with the aftermath of events once Kylie is returned....... guilt, the burden of secrecy, ongoing fear as the chain organiser still taunt and threaten them, the disruption to every day life, the effect on Kylie who was kind of complicit in the kidnapping of another, the sheer lack of normality. All of it takes its toll.

A fightback then and despite the dangers of the all seeing, ever watchful chain cottoning on to what they're up to, Rachel and Pete, now romantically entangles endeavour to break the chain.

Decent story, intriguing and a bit different. Events move fairly swiftly. Massachusetts setting - Newburyport. Other events may occur elsewhere. We get flashbacks to the childhoods of our villains and we understand their motivations and events that have shaped them - manipulative little turds that they were. Adult turds now.

Sympathetic characters in respect of Rachel and Kylie and the rest of their posse. Pete's helpful and capable, but she needs to keep an eye on that drug use. The ex-husband means well but is a bit of a tool. I enjoyed the time spent in the company of their nemesis.

Overall I quite liked it.

4 from 5

I've read and enjoyed Adrian McKinty a few times before, but not for a while - The Cold Cold Ground (2012)

Read - September, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 331
Source - Net Galley courtesy of publisher Mulholland Books
Format - ePub file read on laptop


  1. It certainly sounds like an interesting premise, Col. And I like the idea of fighting back, so to speak, in this situation. In general, I like McKinty's writing style, too. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. It's a bit different from his other books, or at least the ones I've read, Margot

  2. Very creepy plot, Col. I’ve enjoyed McKinty’s earlier work. Thanks for reminding me to read more of his books.

    1. Elgin, I do need to read more from him myself.