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The Chain

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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.

"You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last." Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals—and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you'd have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago.

But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published July 9, 2019

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About the author

Adrian McKinty

62 books3,296 followers
Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,851 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
May 25, 2023
Okay, I will start to bidding with five stars, I think I heard five hundred stars! Five hundred, five thousand, do I heard five billion, oh that redhead woman raised her hand, SOLD to five billion stars to this precious, mind hunting, terrifying, nerve bending, good night sleep killer book!

You can guess that I’m the red haired woman who emptied all her star funds for this reading . And here are my thoughts about this book:


30 minutes left- I’m speechless!

1 hours left- I’m still speechless ( With my shocked expression on my face I look like completely idiot!)

2 hours left- still no word can come out of my mind! I think people started to think I’m a sculpture, they started taking selfies in front me!!!!

5 hours, 3 cups of black coffee later, here we go: This book terrified me, gave my legs cramps( sitting at the edge of your couch without moving an inch for at least three hours is not appropriate way of exercising!), shook me so hard, scarier than watching 24 hours horror movies and the Kardashian show!

My awards for the book are:

Best horrifying story: They took your child and best way to save her/him is kidnapping another family’s child, that’s the way The Chain works! All the regular family members released their inner monsters to hurt an innocent child by losing their moral compass forever!

Best heroine: I loved Rachel! I scared for her and sometimes I scared from her. A smart, intelligent, intellectual, strong, cancer survivor woman, doing regular daytime jobs to make ends meet for raising her child. And BAMMM shit hits the fan! She turns into Mad Max’s Furiosa meets Kill Bill’s Bride! And you know what this broken, struggling, but also rough enough to destroy anyone to save her daughter, achieves to fight back with the evil minds of Chain Organization!

Breakthrough character: Pete is real broken, tormented, burned hero, suffering from PTSD and addiction. But he was still great partner of crime and supported Rachel and her family no matter what it took. This book’s women characters are real badass so it’s normal to see Jake is overshadowed by Rachel’s determination and heroic attempts!

Best supporting character: We are introducing Kylie, smart, emotional, mature daughter, fighting with her night terrors after her kidnapping who was an amazing character.

Best villain and villanelle : They’re one of the most terrifying sociopaths of the book history! I wanted to hide under the blanket when I was reading their childhood adventures( they’re not playing games, they’re playing with people’s lives)

SUMMARY: This year, I read more than chosen wisely 50 thrillers. My favorites: “The night before”, “Dear Wife”, “Before She was found”. I can happily tell that, I found my fourth best book of this year! I completely, honestly, highly recommend this one to the all the thriller book lovers.

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Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
793 reviews12.4k followers
August 31, 2019
My feelings are all over the place with this one. Loved it in the beginning, but I wasn’t a fan by the end.

The Chain has a fascinating premise and is told in two parts.

Part one begins with a bang: When Rachel, a single mom who has fought her fair share of battles, learns her daughter has been kidnapped by “The Chain,” she learns she must not only pay a ransom but kidnap another child to free her daughter. Will she kidnap someone else's child or will she risk losing her daughter forever.

Part two: Rachel finds herself getting pulled back into “The Chain” to take down those running the kidnapping ring. Background is given on those who run "The Chain." This is where I grew bored, as the writing turned gimmicky. Those who run “The Chain” came off as cartoonish psychopaths vs. the brilliant masterminds I was expecting. Making matters even worse, the ending just kind of happens and didn't match the build-up. The final chapters were hard to read, as the narrator began to sound like a bad movie voiceover and events occurred that I just couldn't wrap my mind around. Needless to say, I could no longer suspend my disbelief.

The Chain is an action-packed read with a unique premise. Sadly, it is lacking in execution. What started out with so much promise, left me with a lot of unanswered questions and eye rolls.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
April 27, 2021

Halloween is just around the corner and it's time for some spooky books - but which ones are worth your time? Check out this BookTube Video for answers!
The Written Review

The darkness keeps its own counsel.
Remember those chain emails and letters? Make a copy of the letter, send it to 5 friends or die by midnight?

Yeah, this book is like that...but with children.
Rachel drops Kylie (her teenage daughter) at the bus stop on the way to work.

Then, she gets the call.

Detailing that if she does not pay the ransom and kidnap another child within a week, her own would get murdered.

No police, no outside help - no nothing.

At first, she kind of laughs it out but that all changes when she's sent the first bit of evidence.

So this one, it has a beautiful beginning, then a mediocre middle and finally an ehh ending.

It started SOOO strong - and I was HOOKED from the beginning.

But the longer the book wore on, the more the main characters kept circling in this fevered pitch and it got kinda...samey.

I just wasn't enjoying it.

And when we got to the grand reveal...it was really just a reveal.

The beginning set up SO much and not even half of it was played out...it was disappointing.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,602 reviews24.8k followers
June 10, 2019
Adrian McKinty has never written a book I have not loved, and this intense, dark psychological thriller is just brilliant with its killer and diabolical premise of the chain. 35 year old Rachel Klein is a divorced single mother, with 13 year old daughter, Kylie, living on Plum Island, Massachusetts. She has survived the devastating trauma and treatment of breast cancer, and horror of horrors, it now appears to have returned. You think this is hitting rock bottom and surely Rachel has experienced all the bad luck possible? But something far worse is to hit her and Kylie. Kylie has been abducted from the bus stop, and Rachel gets a call from a stranger telling her she is now part of the chain, a chain that she will never be free of, where the consequences of breaking the chain are too dreadful to contemplate.

Not only does it have Rachel desperately scrabbling around to find the ransom money, she finds herself in a predicament that has her becoming acquainted with a side of herself that is nothing less than monstrous, can she survive what she has to do and what it will turn her into? This is what the chain does to a family, and Kylie too is tainted by it, with the two of them forced to dwell in a hell that brings with it the consequent never ending mental health issues, for they can never speak of what is happening to them, under a surveillance they can never escape. Rachel is helped by her brother in law, 40 year old Pete, an ex-marine engineering officer, currently unemployed and an opiate addict. Faced with the wreckage that comprises her family, Rachel dreams of breaking and destroying the chain.

McKinty writes a riveting story with some great characterisation that captures the pressures faced by Rachel and Kylie, the unravelling of their lives and the difficulties of surviving what happens to them. Rachel once again has to undergo the debilitating cancer treatment, but none of this puts her off her inner need to ensure no-one else ever has to be tortured by being part of the chain again. This is a totally engrossing read, it had me fearfully turning the pages, wondering where it would all end. A novel that I think most crime fiction and thriller fans will love. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,794 followers
April 13, 2023
**3.5-stars rounded up**

As Rachel heads into Boston for an early morning oncology appointment, she believes her 13-year old daughter, Kiley, is catching the bus for school.

Unfortunately, for Rachel, she is very wrong. Prior to making it to her appointment, she gets a chilling phone call that changes everything.

The caller says Kiley has been kidnapped. In order to get her back, Rachel is directed to pay a hefty ransom and she must kidnap another child to take Kiley's place.

An entity known as 'The Chain' is on the other end of the line and they make their money by fusing traditional kidnappings with the horrifying chain letter concept of the 1980s.

The kidnappers are very detailed in their directions to Rachel and make it clear, she is not the first and she won't be last.

Whatever you do, do not break the chain.

Rachel already knows she will do anything they say. Kiley is her whole world and she will stop at nothing to get her back! We follow along with Rachel and her brother-in-law, Pete, as they work around the clock to ensure Kiley's release.

I found this dark Thriller to be highly entertaining. It starts off with a bang and you instantly feel a part of the action.

The premise is super creative and I love how intense the majority of the story was. Rachel has to almost immediately transform herself in order to play The Chain's game. She goes from meek, defeated suburban housewife to a criminal mastermind.

I can get behind that.

For me, the pacing was a little off, however. I did enjoy the first half of the book a lot more than the second half. Overall though, it's a solid story.

You have to be able to just roll with a few implausible details and have fun with it. That's what it is meant to be, a fun, wild ride.

McKinty's writing is engaging and I liked the different perspectives he offered us throughout. It provided a nice wide scope for taking in The Chain's reach.

I particularly liked learning about the villain's background and early life. Seeing where they were coming from added to the darkness of the story and that's basically what I am here for.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and I know a lot of Thriller Readers will enjoy this one!
Profile Image for Joey R..
249 reviews321 followers
December 31, 2019
2.0 stars— I hate to spend a lot of time reviewing this book because I was thoroughly unimpressed. Far fetched and contrived would be the two words that immediately come to mind. I have been very busy and unable to read a lot lately, but I have been wanting to read this one for a while, so I decided to give it a try. The characters and their actions seemed stupid and to say I did not connect to the writing would be an understatement. Do yourself a favor and skip this predictable yawner.
September 1, 2020
This book needs a seat belt because it blasts off at some serious speed. The opening chapters are shocking and the principle of The Chain is completely unique and deeply unsettling. Rachel Klein is a divorced single mother, with a 13-year-old daughter, Kylie. She has just been appointed to a new job and hopes that her life can take a step forward, especially with her battle against breast cancer being in remission for a year. Then the ultimate horror is just about to unfold.
“Two things you must remember,” a voice says through some kind of speech-distortion machine. “Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, it’s not about the money—it’s about The Chain.”
The stranger explains that Kylie has been kidnapped and that there will be a call shortly that she must be ready for. The second call comes from an anxious woman who explains there are a number of parts and instructions that must be followed exactly or Kylie dies. First Rachel must pay twenty-five thousand dollars in ransom through a bitcoin exchange on the dark web or Kylie dies. For the second part, the woman explains that she has kidnapped Kylie so her son could be released. Her instruction is to kidnap someone to replace her daughter on The Chain, or Kylie dies. If Rachel breaks the rules her daughter will die and the kidnappers will move to another target or their own son will die. What a terrifying concept – I was stunned and impressed, shocked and fascinated, and afraid.

The heart-racing terror looms constantly and the abject fear of failing drives family members forward. They must also face the distressing undertaking of carrying this out on another child and family. The ever-watching Chain will approve the targets because they must believe the families will be totally committed to the task and not break one of the fundamental rules by contacting the police. It’s all about the chain! The diversity of personalities is impressive and the emotional conflict Rachel has between trying to rescue her own child and not wishing to harm another is superbly managed. We watch the wonderfully crafted transition from being a victim to a criminal. There is no escape from the decision, no easy way out, you will need to accept the consequences.

This is such a wicked plot, which is masterfully developed by incorporating the distress, the twists, and the frantic and terrifying steps Rachel must face. Not everything goes according to plan and the mistakes and challenges feel real and heighten the anguish. Rachel eventually considers not only saving her daughter but how she can make another transition to the punisher, and destroy The Chain. We can argue it's about preventing untold suffering for other families, but it's really about revenge, closure and the removal of a threat. This new phase doesn't have the tension and pace of the first part and the organisation behind the scheme didn't hit my expectations.

There is an interesting consideration in how the protagonists are formed and I feel there is a message in it - the women are the strong and determined characters while the men often behave irresolutely.

Adrian McKinty is an author from my home town but this is the first book of his I’ve read – not going to be the last, I’m proud to say. I would recommend this book and I’d like to thank Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,067 reviews3,612 followers
June 1, 2019
Whoa! This book will have you laser-focused from the first paragraph...right to the last!

Victim or abuser. Which is actually worse? And what if you had to play the role of both?

Whatever you do...don’t break the chain!

What would you do if your child was taken? What lengths would you go to get your child back? Could you live with your decisions?

Brilliant, addictive, unputdownable! From start to finish I was also at the mercy of those behind the chain. (Ok...the author!) Couldn’t wait to see how this would play out! Definitely one of my favorite thrillers for 2019! I cannot stop thinking about this one!

Highly recommend for all thriller lovers! Toes tapping! Can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

A buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley, Mulholland Books and Adrian McKinty for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
May 19, 2019
3.5 Stars.* (rounded down)

A Highly Entertaining Premise that fell a Tad Short on Execution.

After Rachel drops her teenage daughter Kylie off at the bus stop, she gets a call. Kylie has been kidnapped. The caller states that their child has been kidnapped as well. The only way to get Kylie back is to pay a ransom and kidnap someone else, then the caller’s kid will be released and the chain moves forward. Once the family of the child that Rachel kidnaps take someone, Kylie will be released and so on. It’s a vicious circle called “The Chain.”

The premise was F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-I-N-G (at least to me).. I mean I liked receiving those chain letters as a kid. Not that I ever sent them out. That was way too much work (let’s be serious here)!

Still, I was intrigued by the idea of this and it started off Hella strong. Like Wowza. The characters of Rachel and her daughter Kylie totally pulled me in - the mother who would do anything to get her daughter back and Kylie, who was desperate to get out of the situation she was in? Heck, yes! I am in! But then the story took a bit of a turn in the second half and the story dragged on and sadly, became a bit too technical for me. The ending became obvious fairly quickly, which was also a disappointment. That said, I give the author full credit for the premise and the first half of the story which grabbed my attention immediately.

A huge thank you to NetGalley, Mulholland and Adrian McKinty for an ARC of this novel in exchange or an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 5.19.19.
Will be published on Amazon on 7.9.19
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,512 followers
February 11, 2020
It’s only once in a great while when a high concept this good comes along for a book. I admit I was a skeptic at first and poo-pooed the idea, that it wouldn’t work. And when I first started reading I thought I was correct. Then the book grabbed hold and off. I went on a wild ride. By definition this is a thriller that doesn’t slow down long enough to develop the characters. This is pure high adrenaline storytelling and that’s okay. I have read earlier McKinty novels and really enjoyed the prose, characters and storytelling. He set that all aside in this one. It’s a fast read with plenty of excitement and emotion. The only thing is it is a high concept and for him to do it again it will require another fantastic idea like this one.
I try to read books with more depth and save the fast-paced thrillers as pallet cleansers like ginger does while eating sushi. This one does the job. I started reading and once the story grabbed the rest of the world fell away. You can’t ask for more than that. I thought I bought this book early when it first came out and put it on the TBR pile. Once I started reading I checked the front of the book and found I had a fourth printing. This book must really be selling fast.
If you like thrillers don’t miss this one.
Highly recommend.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson series.
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
773 reviews4,640 followers
August 18, 2019
"The Chain is a metaphor for the ties that bind all of us to friends and family. It is the umbilical link between mother and child, the way or path that the hero must travel in a quest, and it is the thin clew of crimson thread that is the solution Ariadne comes up with to the problem of the labyrinth."

It all starts with a phone call from an Unknown Caller. The caller informs Rachel O'Neill's that her daughter, Kylie, has been kidnapped. The caller's child has also been kidnapped by another stranger. The only way to get Kylie back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Would you have what it takes to get your child back? Are you ruthless enough to be both victim and kidnapper?

The premise of this book was fascinating! In the face of your worst nightmare becoming reality, what are you willing to do for your loved one? Rachel became the ultimate Mama Bear - nothing was going to stop her from getting Kylie back. That resonated with me deeply - there is nothing I wouldn't do for my girls.

This was a compulsive, page-turning roller coaster of a read. McKinley's deadly spin on those darn chain letters we've all received at some point in our lives coupled with our current all digital, social media addicted world was absolutely genius! It's a tale unlike any other and I can't wait to watch the movie.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,961 followers
April 22, 2019
Entertaining and definitely a page turner but probably not a book you want to analyze to death as it does have some problems along the way. The pacing was excellent but I did prefer the first half over the second. A perfect example of a summer beach read.

I'll admit when I first read the synopsis for this one I thought the whole chain idea was intriguing but I was afraid the story could potentially turn into a hot mess. Basically the concept is a parent receives word their child is kidnapped. In order for that parent to get their child back alive, the parent must go out and successfully kidnap another child. This chain has been going on for years and there are certain rules to be followed such as not contacting police. Sounds like a crazy idea for a story, but for the most part it's one of those "can't wait to see what happens next" type reads.

I'll give the author credit for keeping things moving as it never felt like the story was being dragged out. I did have some issues with the writing in the second half and there were a few times I had to remind myself not to take the book too seriously when I started questioning whether or not something was realistic. Overall though this is a book that is meant to entertain even though the plot is pretty disturbing and it definitely held my interest. It's also the type of book you want to discuss with other readers so I'll be glad when it is finally published this summer. I'm dying to hear everyone's thoughts on the book.

I won a free advance copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,818 followers
August 4, 2019
Fleetwood Mac warned us about this.

Rachel O’Neil has had a rough time after a divorce and surviving a battle with cancer, but things are looking up with being in remission and a new teaching job. The promise of this next phase of her life is instantly shattered when she receives a phone call telling her that her young daughter Kylie has been kidnapped, and that Rachel is now the newest link in The Chain.

Not only does Rachel have to quickly come up with a cash ransom to save Kylie, but she also has to identify and kidnap another kid, just like the people who have Kylie did. When Rachel pays up and snatches the next victim, the kidnappers of Kylie will have their child released. Then once Rachel has gotten the parents of the kid she’s taken to kidnap another child, Kylie will be released. And so on and so on.

Rachel quickly learns that the people running The Chain have come up with a fiendishly clever and self-sustaining process. If you try to go to the police, even after the return of your own child, you’d be confessing to kidnapping. Plus, they warn that once a member of The Chain you’re never really free of it, and they may call upon you to do some other horrible task for them or risk you and your family being killed.

Essentially normal law-abiding people are turned into instant criminals. Rachel quickly realizes that appealing to the decency or humanity of the people holding Kylie is pointless once she realizes just how far she’s willing to go herself.

I’d been hearing a lot about this one even before it released thanks to authors like Don Winslow singing its praises, but I was a little leery. The whole parent with a child in peril thing has been tired for me even before Liam Neeson murdered most of Europe to protect his precious baby girl. However, I do recognize that it keeps coming up as a theme because it’s universal and effective when done well.

And it is done very well here. At least for the first two-thirds of the book. I was less happy with the origin story of those behind The Chain, and the ultimate resolution seems just a little too convenient. There’s also one plot turn that I found very hard to buy into, and irritated me even more because it seems like there was a better way to do it sitting right there. That’s what takes this from a 4 star thriller to a very satisfied 3 stars. (I’d go 3 and a half, but….you know. Thanks, Goodreads.)

Despite my disappointment with the last act I still gotta say that it has incredible momentum for the first half. It starts with a great first line, and just absolutely cooks right along from there for a good long while before petering out just a bit at the end. I particularly enjoyed how quickly Rachel grasps the situation and how she jumps into the mode of acquiring cash and working on her own child kidnapping scheme. That idea of a parent being absolutely willing to inflict the same kind of fear and pain they’re going through on someone else to save their own child is what gives the book some more heft than just being an entertaining page-turner.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,370 followers
June 27, 2019

What if you got a call that your child had been kidnapped?

And, in addition to a cash ransom, you are tasked with an unimaginable demand: Kidnap someone else’s child now. Of course, you argue and plead NO NO NO!!! You’re not a child abductor! You can’t do to another parent what has just been done to you. It’s impossible. Okay, then we will immediately kill your child. WAIT. I will do it. Anything. I will.

Congratulations, you’ve just unwittingly joined The Chain. They own you now. It is never over. You might get your child back, but they know what you did to get her back and they have the ultimate extortion scheme in place. You will never tell.

Only, this time, The Chain has messed with the wrong mama bear. Rachel, our heroine, is one tough cookie. She is determined to put an end to this chain business.

CRAZY fun to read and Adrian McKinty sells it like hotcakes. The first half of the book is absolute spell-binding stuff! The second half does not read quite as fast, but the story keeps moving at a clip and the most satisfying ending in recent memory is waiting for you.

Not as far-fetched as it sounds, The Chain is actually based on the Mexican concept of exchange kidnappings whereby a family member offers him or herself as a replacement hostage for a more vulnerable kidnap victim. McKinty has a fascinating history himself, I loved reading about his life. https://deadline.com/2019/06/the-chai...

Super-fun and fast-paced, The Chain already had its film rights picked up by Paramount Pictures. I cannot wait to see this story on the big screen!

For all you peeps (like me) that adored Taylor Adams No Exit, I can promise this: you will freakin' love The Chain!

Thank you to Netgalley and the author for the advanced galley! Publication day is July 9, 2019. All opinions are strictly mine.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,970 reviews2,041 followers
September 22, 2020
EXCERPT: Her phone rings, startling her,

'Unknown Caller,' it says

She answers with the speakerphone: 'Hello?'

'Two things you must remember,' a voice says through some kind of speech-distortion machine. 'Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, its not about the money - it's about The Chain.'

This has to be some sort of prank, one part of her brain is saying. But other deeper, more ancient structures in her cerebellum are beginning to react with what can only be described as pure animal terror.

'I think you must have the wrong number,' she suggests.

The voice continues obliviously: 'In five minutes, Rachel, you will be getting the most important phone call of your life. You are going to need to pull your car over to the shoulder. you're going to need to have your wits about you. You will be getting detailed instructions. Make sure your phone is fully charged and make sure also that you have a pen and paper to write down these instructions. I am not going to pretend that things are going to be easy for you. The coming days will be very difficult, but The Chain will get you through.'

Rachel feels very cold. Her mouth tastes of old pennies. Her head is light. ' I'm going to have to call the police or.....'

'No police. No law enforcement of any kind. You will do just fine, Rachel. You would not have been selected if we thought you were the kind of person who would go to pieces on us. What is being asked of you may seem impossible now but it is entirely within your capabilities.'

A splinter of ice runs down her spine. A leak of the future into the present. A terrifying future that, evidently, will manifest itself in just a few minutes.

'Who are you?' she asks.

'Pray that you never find out who we are and what we are capable of.'

The line goes dead.

She checks the caller ID again but the number is still not there. That voice, though. Mechanically disguised and deliberate; assured, chilly, arrogant. What can this person mean about getting the most important phone call of her life? She checks her rearview mirror and moves the Volvo out of the fast lane and into the middle lane just in case another call really is coming in.

She picks nervously at a line of thread that's coming off her red sweater just as the iPhone rings again.

Another Unknown Caller.

She stabs at the green answer key. 'Hello?'

'Is this Rachel O'Neill?' a voice asks. A different voice. A woman. A woman who sounds very upset.

Rachel wants to say 'No'; she wants to ward off the impending disaster by saying that actually she has started using her maiden name again - Rachel Klein - but she knows there's no point. Nothing she is going to say or do is going to stop this woman from telling her that the worst has happened.

'Yes,' she says.

'I'm so sorry, Rachel, I've got some terrible news for you. Have you got the pen and paper for the instructions?'

'What's happened?' she asks, really scared now.

'I've kidnapped your daughter.'


Listen carefully ...
Your child has been kidnapped.
You must abduct someone else's child to save your own.
Disobey. Break the rules. Go to the cops. Your child will die.
Your victim's parents must kidnap another child before yours is released.
You are now part of the chain.


MY THOUGHTS: I may have said this before, but I am going to say it again: Adrian McKinty is one hell of a writer! And versatile with it.

I read this overnight, finishing it at 2am. I have not functioned well at work today, a day when I really needed to be running at 110%.

This is very different to McKinty's Sean Duffy series, although there is still the odd musical reference, and his sense of humour still shines through, not as often, but it's still there. But although it is different, it is equally as brilliant in its own way.

I loved the way he wove bits of his own background, when he was struggling as a writer, into Rachel's background. There was nothing that Rachel did in her efforts to get her daughter back, that I wouldn't do if my child's life was at risk. The only difference being that I don't have the luxury of an ex-marine as a brother-in-law.

Riveting. Compelling. Thrilling. Just read it.


'Oh,Rachel, why do birds suddenly appear every time that you're near?' Because they're actually carrion crows and I'm one of the goddamn undead.'

'Chemo is a little death that you invite in in order to keep the big death outside on the porch. '

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Chain by Adrian McKinty, published by Hachette Australia, from Waitomo District Library. But I loved it so much I will be buying my own hard copy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Lauren Morse.
165 reviews11 followers
October 26, 2019
Guys. Come on. This was not a good book, and I feel like everyone is pretending it is just to piss me off. Listen, I don’t even care that the plot is crazy and ridiculous - I picked it up for specifically that reason. What I do care about is terrible and unnecessarily pretentious writing, men who insist on writing women despite seemingly never having met a women in their lives, and enormous plot holes you could drive a burning trunk through.

This author wants us to know that he’s read a lot of books. There is A LOT of literary name dropping here. We get it, very smart, very college. Sometimes, characters are being monitored so closely that the cartoony villains can see the shirt they’re wearing and the emails they’ve read; other times, these same characters can use their personal cell phones and computers without notice. Sometimes, children go through a trauma that is so horrible they’re scarred for life, and yet when those same characters go through even MORE and WORSE trauma, they are magically unaffected. Some characters (read: the good ones) can get shot in the face at point blank range and be fine; other characters (those silly bad guys!) are doomed.

In this book, you’re supposed to believe that a woman would discover her lover is shooting heroin and then KISS HIS TRACK MARKS (I legit gagged) and pretty much not care that he’s a dope fiend even though she’s brought him into the home where her daughter lives. You’re supposed to believe that everyone would be totes okay with a chick banging her ex-husband’s brother and that it would genuinely never even come up in conversation. You’re supposed to believe that even though people are desperate to get their kidnapped children back, they would treat the children THEY kidnap with rage and hatred because I guess they aren’t worried about what happens to other people’s kids? You’re supposed to believe that a person can drive her regular car with her real license plates, get pulled over, shoot the cop in the face, and drive away - never to be suspected or investigated (dash cams, anyone? Body cams? No?) You’re supposed to believe that an ex-military special ops FBI agent is no match for....um....a soccer mom who drives an Uber and, oh yeah, is going through chemo. You’re supposed to believe that the people who are the best at shooting complicated machine guns and hitting their targets are 1) children 2) heroin addicts in the middle of withdrawals and 3) aforementioned soccer moms with cancer. You’re supposed to believe that two regular people, with absolutely no help, have designed and implemented the most complicated, intricate, far-reaching, and impenetrable series of crimes in history, with absolutely zero detection or suspicion.

Also, the writing sucks, the dialogue sucks, the wildly sexist descriptions of how women behave SUUUUUCKS, and the ending is a joke.

This book sucks. Fight me.
Profile Image for Sandy.
873 reviews218 followers
July 27, 2019
Darn it. I really wanted to read this, swoon & write a glowing review. Alas, it’s not to be. I assumed it would be a sure thing as I’m a HUGE fan of the author’s other books. His Sean Duffy books remain one of my favourite all time series. And maybe that’s the problem.

If i’d received this book with an anonymous cover & been asked to guess the author, McKinty’s name would never have crossed my mind. This is a complete departure from anything else he’s written. The style of writing is so different & his signature wit is completely absent. The plot is original & horrifyingly creepy but it’s one of those books you really need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy & I think I lack the imagination to just shut down my logical side & go along for the ride. In this particular genre, I have to believe the characters are capable of their roles.

But it’s a layered work & if you’re a philosophy buff, it can be enjoyed on another level. The author clearly draws from his own scholarly background. There are references to some of the great thinkers & their theories are reflected in the main character of Rachel who is slowly redefined by her actions.

I recently read an interview McKinty gave to The Guardian. I was shocked to learn he & his family had been evicted from their home & he was driving for Uber to make ends meet. Just goes to show how tough the industry is when best selling authors are unable to make a living. So he’s headed off in a new direction & who can blame the guy?

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned any details about the story. There’s no need. The characters are all fresh & the blurb tells you everything you need to know. So while it didn’t work for me, it’s probably just a combination of my preconceptions & simple reader/book mismatch. It’s hugely popular & there are many 5 star reviews out there so give those a look & take this one with a grain of salt. McKinty is a gifted story teller & I sincerely hope this is a screaming success so he can get back to writing full time.
Profile Image for Julie (JuJu).
612 reviews194 followers
July 3, 2019
The Chain. What an elaborate concept...and nightmare! This is the worst version of a chain letter you can possibly imagine...and be a part of!!

This cover caught my attention when I first saw it on NG. Then it was popping up everywhere. It was receiving so much hype and praise, I had to request it.

It’s easy...Follow The Chain and you get your kid back. Pay the ransom. Find another target and kidnap someone. The Chain continues. Each link in The Chain is precious. The Chain has to go on. No police! Whatever you do, Don’t Break The Chain! The Chain has never been successfully broken.

McKinty didn’t waste time. From page one, this is a fast-past thriller, filled with action, tension and fear. I wasn’t sure McKinty could sustain that same emotion throughout the story, but he pulled it off!

It’s Thursday morning and Kylie is sitting at the bus stop. Like a typical 13-year-old, her social media/phone are more interesting than her surroundings. Before she has time to respond, there is a man standing in front of her. He’s wearing a ski mask and pointing a gun at her.

”She knows she shouldn’t have gotten into the vehicle. That’s how girls vanish. That’s how girls vanish every day. If you get in the car it’s over. If you get in the car, you’re lost forever. You don’t get in the vehicle, you turn around and you run, run, run.”

Kylie is thinking about her mom. She doesn’t deserve this. First the cancer, then the divorce, now her daughter is kidnapped. Rachel is on her way to the oncologist. Probably bad news. Her phone rings. It’s an unknown caller.

“Two things you must remember,” a voice says through some kind of speech-distortion machine. “Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, it’s not about the money—it’s about The Chain.”

McKinty is now on my radar and “The Chain”, which is my first read of July, is also a fav read of 2019!

My Rating: 4.5⭐️’s (rounding up 😊)
Published: July 9th 2019 by Mulholland Books
Pages: 368

Recommend: Yes

“A true predator sometimes kills even when it isn’t hungry.”

Thank you to NetGalley, Mulholland Books and Adrian McKinty for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
#NetGalley #DontBreakTheChain
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.6k followers
October 16, 2019
Closer to a 3.5
Ahhh I have such mixed feelings about this one. It started off so promising and it has one of the best premises ever, but then the ending really dropped the ball and it got incredibly cliche and predictable and meh.

This story is about this mother who gets a phone call saying her daughter has been kidnapped, and the only way to get her back is by paying a ransom fee and kidnapping another child. They tell her she is now part of a chain and if she doesn’t follow through, they will kill her daughter and find someone else. Our main characters morals are really out to the test when she must be willing to decide how far she would go to save her own daughter.

The beginning of this book is intense and interesting and it kept me turning the pages so fast. I read this one and listened to the audiobook, I went back and forth and I think the audiobook is actually really great. (I usually don’t like listening to thrillers on audiobooks I don’t know why, but I enjoyed this one!) I was on the edge of my seat at the end of every chapter trying to predict what was going to happen next.

And then part 2 came along and well... our main character gets incredibly obnoxious and overly confident and made me want to slam my head into a wall. Also, that plot twist at the end??? That set up was SO OBVIOUS and I knew it was going to happen and I felt like I was waiting so long for the main character Rachel to realize it like come on????

So yeah, I’m kind of disappointed by the ending because it was a hot mess, but the rest of the book was really great so I’d still recommend it??
Profile Image for Amanda.
710 reviews239 followers
July 4, 2019
I have never read an Adrian McKinty book before. Seriously after reading this book I feel like I’ve missed out and will need to catch up on his other boos ASAP!!

Wow this was one addictive read that kept me on the edge of my seat ,desperate to finish it but wanting to saviour every word at the same time.

I have heard about chain letters where you then have to send a copy of the chain letter to numerous people. What if you’re child was kidnapped and the only way to get them back is to kidnap another child!! This chain is relentless and you will never be free from the chain even when you everything they ask you to do.

How far would you go to save you’re child? To save you’re child would you put another family through the hell you are going through?

Loved the original plot and it really made me think what would I do in those circumstances. I love a book that stays in you’re mind after reading it!!

A must read roller coaster of a thriller.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
September 10, 2021
fulfilling my 2021 goal to read one ARC each month i'd been so excited to get my hands on and then...never read

i wish i'd read this when it first came out and everyone was raaaaving about it, so—still fresh in everyone's raving minds—i could ask them what i missed.

it's fine—i wasn't bored by/angry at the book while i was reading it, but it didn't light that inner readerfuse or make me want to take to the streets to urge other people to read it immediately.

it's an original premise for a psychological thriller, which is no easy feat these days, but its originality might be the flipside of its being so wildly implausible.

it involves an intricate criminal enterprise known as the chain, in which someone is kidnapped and a ransom demand is made to their loved ones, who are then instructed to kidnap a whole other person and demand a ransom/abduction from that person's loved ones or their own loved one will be killed by the person whose loved one is still being held by the last person who'd been dragged into this situation. (i'm gonna stop saying 'loved one' and just say "kid,' because although the instructions do not specifically require the kidnapped individual be a child; pro tip: kids are easier to overpower in an abduction scenario and all the kidnappees in the book are kids, so.) once the next person fulfills their obligations, the newly-criminalized person gets their kid back and doesn't have to kill some rando's child, and the cycle of kidnapping/ransom/kidnapping wash-rinse-repeats off into the sunset.

however, the reason it's called a chain and not a recursive sequence is a) because it sounds cooler, b) it makes an innocent person commit a crime that the mastermind can use against them at any time, thereby chaining them to silence, and c) the chain isn't broken once you complete your unsavory task. even after your kid is returned and all tucked back into their cozy little bed, you're still basically on call. if the next link messes up—alerts the authorities, chooses a victim whose family contacts the authorities, fails to fulfill the orders in any way, you might be recalled to get the chain back on course, whatever that might entail, or the powers that be will tap the previous link in this chain and they will be forced to come for your kid again, and on and on we go.

it's a complex and intricate piece of blackmail and manipulation that i'm probably not explicating very well at all, but all you need to know is that it's been going on for years in a human centipede of victimhood and culpability and no one's broken the chain yet, although some have died trying.

the engineer of the chain (and also the author in his afterword) says the idea came from the practice of "exchange kidnappings" in mexico, where a family member of a kidnapped person volunteers themselves as a substitute, swapping out a kid for a sturdier adult, which is pretty considerate behavior from someone who snatched your kid, and is certainly a more straightforward procedure than the chaaaaaiiiin.

obviously, this is not a viable enterprise and the fact that it has worked for so long—that the reader is expected to accept that it has worked for so long—is cuckoo-bananas. even if one accepts that the overseer of the whole shebang is a criminal savant who has developed rules and guidelines and failsafes to ensure that the show will go on, the whole thing is pretty rickety—the folks enlisted into this scheme are suburban parents who wouldn't have the kind of criminally strategic background to pull this off. not only having to potentially kill someone's kid, which is brutal enough, but also abducting a child and getting away with it, keeping the kid somewhere without anyone finding out, and just the psychological fortitude to carry on living like everything's normal, making excuses to schools and friends and the kid's friends about where their kidnapped child is for all this time without someone getting suspicious. you need the will to do a thing but also the SKILLS to do a thing. i'm sure those roped into this madness would have the motivation—it's one of them biological imperatives for parents to want to keep their kids alive, but as far as the means, well, it's a crapshoot. you kidnap a kid and tell their folks they have 24 hours to become fluent in russian or else the kid dies, and i'm sure they'd all try really hard, but the average person wouldn't be able to achieve that goal in that timeframe. except the russians. they'd ace it.

and those who did succeed would have to then choose a successor, somehow identifying a random stranger they think would be able to master a whole new language in that timeframe and it's too bonkers to even wrap your head around—the factors, the loopholes, the variables, the unpredictability of human behavior—too much can go wrong and it's inevitable that it will become less of a chain and more of a tangle of duct tape and stopgap solutions. just...don't try this at home, is my advice.

this book is like a prompt from the game scruples stretched thinly out into a novel

it's a moral thought exercise whose impact depends on what the reader brings to the reading. that's true of all books, obviously—all interpretations are subjective, all reactions depend on an unquantifiable cocktail of personal experiences and values, but it's even more the case with this one, where it's such an implausible situation that being able to suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy it depends on your ability to put themselves in the characters' position and give the scenario a good "what would i do?" think.

i don't have kids, or even know any kids, but i tried to relate, swapping out "kid" for "pet," which substitution apparently occurred to other childless readers, and aPriL does feral sometimes' review breaks this angle down and also does a much better job than i did of explaining...everything.

anyway, it's a fast read although it's pretty easy to guess the whodunnit part even if you read the final copy and not the arc like me where, presumably, there isn't an oopsie of a namedrop a few pages before the Big Reveal although, in truth, most mystery readers will have figured it out by then.

for a better book about the lengths parents would go to keep their children alive, i would suggest Suffer the Children, and for a better book about parental revenge, Razorblade Tears.

* i got very excited when i went to the scruples site and saw this statement: Download a PDF and make your own Scruples cards.

i was thinking, now there's an idea: custom-made scruples cards designed to target specific individuals at your game night to delight in the same kind of secret-revealing humiliation and cruelty that every game of 'never have i ever' becomes. alas, it's not a make-your-own card situation, it's a "print out what already exists" situation. thanks, scruples.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,097 followers
July 24, 2019
. You never know how strong you are until someone upsets or threatens your kids but just how far would you go to .........

This is a really unique and suspenseful thriller that really had me intrigued from page one, although I have to be honest and say there were parts of this one that did make me roll my eyes on several occasions but I was able to put that aside as the book overall was a rocking good suspenseful read that I think many will enjoy this summer.

A terrifying scenario, Your child has been kidnapped, and in order for your child to be returned safely you must follow a number of steps to fulfill the chains’s demands and one of those is for you to kidnapp another child, and keep chain going.

I loved the cover and title of this novel, it caught my attention straight away and the premise is really intriguing and terrifying . I was a little wary about reading this one but the story was well handled and nothing in it that made me feel uncomfortable. Characters were interesting vivid and the story extremely well paced. I loved the build up as it had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how this one was going to pan out.

I listened to the audio version of this book and it was extremely well done and added to my enjoyment of the book. A great book to pack for the holidays.
Profile Image for Erin Clemence.
1,053 reviews311 followers
July 14, 2019
“The Chain” by Adrian McKinty is worthy of the hype it’s getting. A powerhouse of a novel for the Irish-turned-American author, McKinty’s pulse-pounding thrill ride is definitely all it’s cracked up to be.

Rachel is a recently divorced mother, and cancer survivor, raising her young daughter Kylie. One day, while waiting at the bus stop, Kylie is abducted. Panicked and frightened, Rachel receives a call from someone identified only as “The Chain” and giving Rachel detailed instructions; to see Kylie again she must transfer money to an unidentifiable bank account, she must not inform police and she must abduct someone else’s child or the Chain will be broken and Kylie will be lost forever. Rachel is forced to go to great lengths to get her daughter back and soon learns how far a mother will go for her child.

This novel apparently was inspired by similar Mexican kidnappings years ago, headed by the cartel and other criminal organizations that forced relatives to exchange their own lives for those of their loved ones. Just as creepy, “The Chain” brings every parents’ worst nightmare to life.

A creative tale, McKinty’s novel is unlike anything I had ever read before. Sure, kidnapping novels are a dime-a-dozen, some with positive endings and others with not-so-positive ones. This novel however, took the kidnapping genre and kicked it up a notch.

Rachel is immediately likable, a strong woman who identifies as a mother first and an academic cancer survivor second, going to great lengths to save her young and vibrant daughter, Kylie. Each character in this novel is authentic and functionally dysfunctional, making them easy to root for. We even get a bit of background into the creators’ of The Chain (and we know how much I enjoy the inner workings of a psychopath) , which made this novel even more enjoyable.

Narrated almost exclusively by Rachel, this novel is non-stop from start to finish. Short chapters, ending with a cliff hanger, make it impossible to put down. In fact, this is one of those novels I was thinking about and dreaming about (when I wasn’t reading it ) .

“The Chain” is a novel that will stick with you. It surely gives you a hell of a lot to think about. If you have children, this novel will petrify you. If you have social media, you will become super paranoid and will start to double check and examine all of the information you post. There is no one that this novel will not affect in some way.

Fascinating, page-turning, gripping and thought-provoking, “The Chain” is sure to be the must-read book of the summer.
Profile Image for Lisa.
751 reviews
October 9, 2019
You get a call from a stranger saying that they have kidnapped your child, they say you have to kidnap someone elses child for your child to stay alive, WOULD YOU DO IT!!

I found this prose interesting as i asked myself would i do it & the answer is yes without doubt Rachel was written very well loved her character, she did what she had to do to save her daughter Kylie from death but then questions her own morality when she picks out her victim i thought she showed her weaknesses but tgen again she was tough when she had to be.

This was outstanding this is my first read by Adrian Mckinty & i was hooked from the very first page to the last it had short chapters which i love & the pacing was right up there, at times i just wanted to scream & cheer for Rachel all the way through. It was set in Pum Island in Suffolk Ney York which i also loved, all i will say is i LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book all the shiny stars for this one, the ending was satisfying.
Profile Image for Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader).
151 reviews196 followers
October 24, 2021
Rating: 2.5/5

Quick summary: The Chain: a scheme that turns victims to criminals. Rachel's daughter is taken and the only way to get her back is to pay a ransom and kidnap another child.

Reasons to pick this up:

• If you're after a movie like action packed thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat

• If you enjoyed books like Th1rt3en and Dark Matter where you’re in it for the crazy plot. Be ready to suspend belief!

What I absolutely loved:

• The first half-ish was highly addictive and hard to put down. The book wastes no time and launches straight into the kidnapping. This was action packed and had me on the edge of my seat and curious to see how a normal person would spiral down into commiting unthinkable crimes to save her daughter.

• The premise was unique, I was so intrigued about the Chain!

• The chapters were super short so it was easy to digest.

What I didn’t enjoy. At all:

The book had addictive non stop action but it lacked in developing the relationships, characters and the Chain.

• The second half was such a struggle I had to skim. Fast. Like my life depended on it. The short straight forward writing worked for the first half because it was fast paced and the cringey dialogue was less noticeable. But afterwards when the pace slowed down the writing felt so disjointed and there was little depth. If anything, now the chapters felt too short, it would briefly go through the scene and then fast forward to the next without giving me enough detail.

• I was so intrigued about the Chain, the origins and people behind it. But we are only told 1 liners that this and that happened and then the Chain was formed, it was bumpy at first and then it became a fantastic scheme. I was also getting annoyed by the repeated dialogue of, you can’t escape the Chain or the Chain will get you, without actually creating enough justification for it. It started to feel like a joke. For such a crazy and unique premise I expected better explanation and more depth about The Chain.

• The romance was random, forced and unnecessary. It was incredibly weird and yet no-one mentioned it in the book...if there was one conversation acknowledging it and then moved on that would have been better than shoving it under the rug and hoping that readers just accept it.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
August 8, 2019
It seemed like any other morning. Rachel's 13-year-old daughter Kylie was waiting at the bus stop while she headed to a doctor's appointment. On the way she received a call from an unknown number. The call told her that Kylie had been kidnapped, and she was now part of The Chain.

Rachel was given explicit instructions. She has to pay a ransom electronically and then kidnap another child as her daughter had been kidnapped. If she follows the instructions to the letter, and the family of the child she kidnaps do the same, then Kylie will be released. Any deviations from this script, any calls to the police or FBI for help, any trying to outsmart those in charge will result in Kylie being killed, if not Rachel as well.

"You've never experienced fear until something or someone puts your child in danger. Dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is for something to happen to your kid. Having a child instantly turns you into a grown-up."

Rachel is utterly overwhelmed by the tasks that lay ahead, but she has no choice. She never imagined she'd be the type of person to kidnap a child, be willing to sacrifice their life for her daughter's, but protecting your child makes you do unbelievable things. When your life is falling apart completely, how do you convince the world that it's just another day, that you're perfectly fine?

I'm giving a fairly vague plot summary because it's best to let things unfold without much knowledge or expectation. Adrian McKinty's The Chain has an amazing concept at its core—talk about the worst kind of pay-it-forward you've ever seen! Rachel and some of the others involved are tremendously believable even as the things that they are doing are utterly unbelievable, but it makes you wonder how you might react if faced with the same situation.

The book starts with a bang, but the pace starts to lag after a bit. At times the narrative gets a little too technical, and I'm never a big fan of when a book needs to spend a lot of time explaining the evil plot. And while the pace picks up toward the end, I found the conclusion tremendously predictable and a little ridiculous, which is saying a lot considering how crazy the whole concept is.

I've seen a few friends rave over this book, so maybe my cynicism with thrillers is showing again. McKinty is a talented writer and I love the concept he has come up with. If this interests you, I'd definitely encourage you to read it—July seems to be the month for me to challenge a lot of highly rated favorites!!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for zuza_zaksiazkowane.
345 reviews31k followers
September 1, 2020
3.5 w sumie całkiem dobry kryminał z wątkiem sensacyjnym. Do połowy było bardzo dobrze, później się trochę... rozmemłało? Na pewno jest nieodkładalną, świetną rozrywką na jesienne deszczowe wieczory, ale czy zapadnie w pamięć - raczej nie 🤷🏼‍♀️
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,175 reviews615 followers
July 31, 2019
The premise of this book is chilling. Your child is kidnapped and to get them back you must kidnap someone else's child and tell his/her parents that they need to kidnap a child to get their own back ... and so the Chain keeps going. Behind the scheme is a sociopathic monster collecting a ransom for each child in the Chain. You might think you couldn't do it but would you let your child die?

The first part of the book makes for compulsive page-turning reading as we watch Rachel, a single mother struggle with her conscience and morals to play her part in the Chain and save her thirteen year old daughter Kylie. McKinty's writing is tight and tense as Rachel embarks on this dangerous game. In part two of the book, the pace slows as the backstory to the Chain is introduced and I did think this section could have been sharper, but it soon ramps up again to a dramatic ending.

McKinty has developed some great characters, both good and evil. Rachel is smart, loving mother who would do anything for her daughter and Kylie is a feisty, brave teenager. They've been through a lot together and struggle to return to normal life knowing that the Chain is still there and they are still watched. The monster pulling the strings that keeps the Chain going is an intelligent sociopath, although some of her actions seem a bit questionable . Although there is not as much opportunity for McKinty's signature humour and pop culture references that we've come to love in his Sean Duffy series (and I hope he will keep writing these), this is nail-biting drama at its best (and there is that little joke about good books finishing at chapter 77). 4.5★
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