The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The FBI are professsionals, but the woman holding her daughter isn’t afraid of the criminal justice system; she’s afraid of The Chain. The person above her on The Chain has her son. And if Rachel is perceived as a defector, this woman’s instructions are to murder Kylie and select a new target. The woman is sounding increasingly on edge. Rachel has no doubt she will do anything to get her son back… (p. 63)

I read this book in two days, something I have not done in weeks. “Are you coloring now, instead of reading?” my husband asked, because I seem more enthused about the pages I’ve finished in Johanna Basford’s Magical Jungle than I am about what I’ve read. Which isn’t much of anything, lately.

The premise of The Chain is much as is described in the quote above: parents must kidnap a child, and pay an exorbitant ransom, in order to get their own child back. It involves technology and spyware to a terrifying extent, and worse yet, explores what a person might do which is against his or her principals. In theory.

I read breathlessly until the end, which seemed just a little stretched; yet, I had to know how it would turn out.

There is the now-typical strength of a female protagonist, a strength I never doubted women having especially when it comes to mothering. But, what truly fascinated me was the author’s note at the end. Having grown up in Ireland, whose people apparently hang on to superstitions, he remembers his fifth grade teacher asking her students to bring in anything that frightened them. What he brought in was a chain letter, and the teacher burned these items from her students, effectively destroying whatever power they imagined was held over them. The seeds for The Chain were planted with the chain letter, and I found that background fascinating. Especially the teacher’s role, in helping her students conquer their terror.

The Chain was an interesting psychological thriller, with an original idea, which kept a fast pace. I read it for the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge XIV.

SPOILER: The woman who masterminded the Chain with her twin brother was raised in a commune type of place, surrounded by drug addicts. It didn’t bode well for their emotional well-being. She discovered the negative power of a chain letter in school, using it to manipulate her classmates. As an adult, she and her brother formed the kidnapping chain largely for money, but also for power and control. Our protagonist, together with her brother in law who was in the Marines, work to beat the Chain and get her daughter/his niece back from the kidnappers. Which they do, but of course there is emotional residue from which one can barely recover…untold fears and nightmares keep recurring. Ultimately, with the help of another victim of the Chain, they locate the twins and bring them down.