Book Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty


Author: Adrian McKinty

Publisher: Orion

Release Date: July 2019

At the outset of Adrian McKinty’s multi-award-winning standalone novel The Chain, a stranger kidnaps Rachel’s 13-year-old daughter, Kylie. Within minutes, an anonymous phone call informs Rachel that if she wants to free her daughter, she must abduct someone else’s child. Kylie will only be released when her victim’s parents kidnap another child. If any of these steps don’t happen, the kidnapped child/children will be killed. What follows is grim and enthralling.

I enjoyed the pulpy thrills of McKinty’s Michael Forsythe trilogy many years ago, but the masterful Sean Duffy series (which commenced with 2012’s The Cold, Cold Ground) was a real cut above, and deserved a far wider readership. The Chain is a very different book altogether, and feels like a more mainstream-orientated proposition. Mainstream can be a dirty word, and a lot of high-concept thrillers I have dabbled with over the years have left me cold and unengaged.

Impressively, The Chain clicks straight away, and McKinty takes a deep dive into his character’s lives, presenting Rachel as a fully-rounded protagonist. The Massachusetts locale feels grubby and lived-in, and the tension is cranked up notch by notch as Rachel’s ominous mission unfolds.

Masterfully plotted and completely gripping, The Chain deserves all of the praise heaped on it to date. I just hope that this emotionally bruising page-turner helps to persuade more readers to investigate the excellent Duffy series as well. Superb stuff.

Review by Tom Leins