You get a phone call that your child has been kidnapped. In order to get your child back, you must pay a ransom and kidnap a child yourself. The parents of the child in your possession must also pay a ransom and kidnap another child. Once that is done, both you and your child will be reunited. Even though you may believe your nightmare is over, you will forever be a link on The Chain.
The story follows Rachel, a newly divorced single mother. While on her way to see her oncologist, she receives a call that her daughter Kylie has been taken and is instructed to come up with twenty-five thousand dollars as soon as possible. Once paid, she must kidnap another child and force that family to do the same. This sets off a flurry of activity that will see Rachel hit depths she never believed possible.
I don’t have children myself, but I can surely imagine that having one taken must be an excruciating experience. The raw emotion which he’s able to inject into Rachel helps to establish an uncanny urgency the likes of which I don’t see from too many thrillers I read these days. McKinty writes with the speed of a Japanese bullet train. The velocity in which this story moves in the first twenty-four hours of Kylie’s abduction is impressive. However, I felt that as the novel continued on, things started to get a little muddled. There’s a lot of happenstance here that feels completely unnecessary.
I wasn’t overly thrilled with the injection of Rachel’s brother-in-law Pete into the mix as he felt inconsequential. He seemed to exist only to draw attention to America’s lack of compassion for veterans, but it felt like McKinty couldn’t decide what to do with him. Pete’s flawed and certainly designed to be that way, but I don’t think the novel would have suffered had he been written out.
The novel’s conclusion contained some high stakes moments that kept me up late into the night racing to the end. Sure, it all felt a little overdone, but it’s hard to argue it wasn’t warranted when I myself couldn’t look away. Maybe I’m just a sucker for these big action set pieces that seem to have a place in every 90s Hollywood blockbuster movie that I love.
The Chain is a novel that could have easily rested on its premise, but McKinty does enough interesting things here and writes with enough passion that it lends itself to a novel you’ll probably tear through in a day or two. Just don’t expect it to stay in your head for too long after you put it down.