The Chain

by Adrian McKinty
Mulholland Books, July 2019, $28

Remember those chain letters from childhood? Pass them on for something good to happen, and, more importantly, to avoid something bad happening if you don’t. What if the good thing was eventually getting your kidnapped child back alive, but the only way to “pass it on” was to kidnap another child? And then encourage your victim’s parents to do the same?

That’s the horrifying premise of Edgar Award-winning Adrian McKinty’s stunning standalone. That’s the chilling reality facing cancer survivor Rachel when her teenage daughter Kylie is snatched from a school bus stop in Massachusetts. The voice on the phone makes it crystal clear. Just paying a ransom won’t be enough to get Kylie back alive; single mom Rachel also has to find another child to kidnap, someone whose parents are also capable of holding their nerve, kidnapping another child, and staying quiet.

No law enforcement, no politicians, no journalists. Choose your victim carefully or your own child will be executed. Once part of the chain, you can never break it. As Rachel scrambles to find money and choose a child to kidnap, she realizes all her moves are being tracked. How far would you go to save your own child? How much pain would you inflict on others? Is there anywhere you’d draw the line?

McKinty delivers a mind-blowing tale that clutches at the hearts of readers. The Chain is every loving parent’s worst nightmare, on steroids. It’s terrifying and traumatizing in a way that ultra-violent fare just cannot touch. Impressively, Northern Irishman McKinty manages to infuse what is a high-concept, white-knuckle thriller with textures of social commentary and touches of the lyricism that’s won him so many admirers already. The Chain is a triumph from a true master.

Craig Sisterson
Teri Duerr
July 2019
Mulholland Books