Rarely have I found the reviewer’s cliché “page turner” more appropriate than in the case of this new thriller.
Award-winning author Adrian McKinty‘s writing style in The Chain is spare and direct. But this only serves to match the emotional turmoil created in the mind of the main protagonist. Facing unspeakable threats and having to deal with agonising dilemmas, she invariably needs to move fast to meet seemingly-impossible deadlines and follow instructions to the letter, if her child is to be returned to her safe and well.
The pace is breathless, right from the opening paragraphs. This is one of those stories that digs its hooks deep into the reader’s credulity, leaving one worrying that any criminal individual or gang could employ such methods to force parents to pay a ransom. The blurb on the dust jacket neatly summarises the plot’s premise:
Your phone rings. A stranger has kidnapped your child.
To free them you must abduct someone else’s child.
Your child will be released when your victim’s parents kidnap another child.
If any of these things don’t happen, your child will be killed.
You are now part of The Chain.
If this framework for the plot line sounds credible, it may well be because McKinty based it on actual, similar kidnappings in Mexico which he heard about while on holiday in Mexico City.
Published in July, the work has already catapulted him into the novelistic big league. According to reports, his publishers have agreed a six-figure, two-book contract, whilst Paramount Pictures have signed a seven-figure deal for the film rights.
The book opens with a display of six full pages of glowing, hyperbolic reviews from celebrities such as Stephen King (‘This nightmarish story is incredibly propulsive and original. You won’t shake it for a long time’), Ian Rankin (‘Scary, plausible, gripping’) and Mark Billingham (‘The Chain is a unique and unforgettable thriller. Breath-taking, breakneck, brilliant’).
For me, one very important quality of this great thriller is that the nail-biting tension builds right to the end, with a dénouement that doesn’t disappoint.