Book Review: "The Chain" by Adrian McKinty
The Chain is a perfect example of why concept is king. From a marketing standpoint, this novel has probably the best 30 second pitch ever conceived: your child has been kidnapped and in order to set them free you must kidnap someone else's child, having them continue the chain of kidnappings forward. It's a brilliant and frightening concept that immediately grabs at every parent's inner fears, flaying them open.
The novel starts right into the action with a kidnapping, allowing us to see both the inherent fear of the abductee as well as the parent once that first call comes in. There are also some extreme choices that must be made by the kidnappers which escalate quickly. My favorite part of this novel is the humanity McKinty gives to both those committing the kidnappings and those affected by a kidnapping (though they each become one and the same). The constant question raised in this novel is how far would you go to save your own child, and it's asked again and again under increasingly dire circumstances.
McKinty takes us to the edge of no return but fails to fully commit in crossing over that line. I couldn't help but wonder where things would have gone had our characters been pushed just a little further. Where this novel fell apart for me was in its second half. We begin to meet the orchestrators of the Chain, and though their backstories were meant to invoke a better understanding perhaps of how someone could be so diabolical, for me it left me wanting more. The Chain felt less of a threat the more that was revealed and began to play into the tropes of your typical "bad guy" villains, losing what held so much intrigue up to that point. As things continued marching forward, with our protagonists trying to take down the organization, things escalated into the blurred lines where dispelling disbelief became more and more difficult and the "twists" written into the story were so telegraphed that you were waiting for the characters to catch up. A disappointing end to what might have been an incredible story.
I still recommend checking this one out, the concept alone is so intriguing it's hard not to be swept away in its currents, and casual fans of thriller novels will find a lot to love. Just don't mind me sulking in the corner and thinking about what this book could have been.