THE CHAIN by Adrian McKinty (Hachette). Release: 9 July 2019, $A32.99
DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN!
Adrian McKinty, author of the highly acclaimed Sean Duffy series set in 1980s Belfast, has ventured into Harlan Coben suburban thriller territory with his latest stand-alone suspense novel.
The Chain is a clever, suspenseful thriller that preys on every parent’s greatest fear, the disappearance of a child. It starts like a normal day for cancer survivor Rachel Klein doing the usual morning run of dropping her daughter, Kylie, off at the bus stop and going about her daily routine, until she gets the phone call that her daughter has been kidnapped. A woman has Kylie bound and gagged in her backseat and is threatening to kill her unless Rachel pays a ransom.
This is, however, no ordinary kidnapping. The woman who has kidnapped Kylie, is also the victim of a kidnapping and she is demanding that Rachel pays a ransom of $25,000 in Bitcoin and kidnaps another child. If she does not do exactly what she has been told, both of their children will be killed. Rachel is now part of a terrifying scheme known as The Chain. The rules are simple, pay the ransom, find your victim and then commit a horrible crime in order for your child to be released. Disobey and your child will be killed.
It is a gripping premise and McKinty develops it with considerable skill. The reader quickly comes caught up in Rachel’s dilemma and as McKinty ratchets up the tension it is easy to ignore the nagging doubts about the credibility of it all. Rachel is a well-developed character and seen through her terrified eyes the overwhelming desire to do anything to save your child becomes understandable. Rachel is joined in her quest to save Kylie by her ex-husband’s brother, a deeply flawed former soldier who is struggling with drug addiction. Together, they deal with the mounting complications and even try to fight back.
The depth of the characterisations and McKinty’s attention to small details helps to ground his plot and his depiction of the suburban Boston milieu is convincing. McKinty has always been an adept plotter and The Chain quickly moves through some good twists and turns to well-choreographed and bloody climax.
This is a great thriller that grips your attention from the first page and holds it all the way to the violent conclusion. It moves McKinty into the first rank of thriller writers and will have Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay looking nervously over their shoulders.
Four and a half stars out of five!
The Chain is released in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom on 9 July 2019. It has also been optioned by Paramount pictures for a seven figure sum. The film will be produced by Shane Salerno.
Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Northern Ireland, but has subsequently lived in Australia and the United States. Whilst in Australia he wrote some of the Sean Duffy books and won the Ned Kelly Award for In The Morning I’ll Be Gone and Police At The Station and They Don’t Look Friendly. He also won an Edgar for Rain Dogs and Police At The Station and They Don’t Look Friendly and a Barry Award for I Hear Sirens In The Street and Rain Dogs. He currently lives in New York city.
Thanks to the Canberra Weekly and Hachette Australia for an early copy of the book