You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim's parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don't kidnap a child, or if the next parents don't kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.
Holy shit, you guys. This book was a wild ride.
Adrian McKinty has taken the concept of those awful chain emails we all used to get and stretched it to its worse possible extreme. Rachel’s daughter has been kidnapped, and all she knows about the kidnapper is that they’re part of an organization called The Chain. The only way Rachel can save her daughter is to kidnap someone else’s child and hold him or her for 3 days. In that time, that child’s parents will be contacted and given the same deal. And so on. We’re led to believe that this has been going on for years, if not decades.
It’s a pretty elaborate setup, and quite an ingenious setup. The Chain isn’t directly involved with any of the kidnapping. They contact the parents and set up the deal. They don’t do anything themselves. They could be anywhere in the world; all of the communication is done remotely. By forcing the parents to commit a kidnapping of their own, they’re ensuring that the police won’t be brought in. They make the window of time just big enough to allow the parents to find and scope out a target, but not so big as to allow anyone to get any headway into tracking down The Chain or finding their children. And by having the kidnappings done by people who are considered good parents, they’re also ensuring that the children won’t be harmed.
So you have a parent, in this case, single mom Rachel, who not only has to deal with their own child being taken, but also make the decision – do you kidnap another child, do this to another family, or not? There’s almost no decision to be made; if you don’t do it, your child will be killed. But if you do it, if you carry out this act, are you the victim, or the criminal?
I was riveted through most of this book, and the narration by January LeVoy was great. I couldn’t stop listening to this book. I will say, however, that the first half was stronger than the second. I didn’t think Adrian McKinty stuck the landing quite as much as I would have liked. To be fair, though, I don’t know if it would have been possible. The book had to end, the story had to end, and I don’t know if there was a way for that to happen that would have been completely realistic after such an unrealistic premise. Unrealistic, but so much fun. I really do recommend this book, whole-heartedly, especially on audio. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but if they’re anything like this, I’d love to check them out.
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