The Chain

Shortly after 13-year-old Kylie hears her school bus drive past the car in which she's held captive--blindfolded, at gunpoint--the kidnappers contact her mother. Rachel Klein's positive steps toward a new life--divorce, cancer remission, new job--take a devastating tumble as she learns she and Kylie are now part of "the Chain." Multiple lives depend on Rachel doing exactly what the Chain demands. Even if they can survive, Rachel and Kylie are beholden for the rest of their lives.

The woman holding Kylie explains she is only trying to save her own kidnapped son. To secure Kylie's release, Rachel must follow the same rules: send crypto-currency ransom to the Chain's account and then steal someone else's child. Kylie will be returned once Rachel deposits the funds and convinces her kidnap victim's family to pay and take yet another child. Like a snake eating its tail, the Chain perpetuates itself. If Rachel breathes a word, people will die.

The refreshingly horrifying premise of Adrian McKinty's The Chain probes the lengths parents will go to protect their children and the lines others will cross to exploit them. McKinty's standalone thriller, following his Detective Sean Duffy series (Gun Street Girl), is a warped ride through the consequences of the Chain messing with the wrong woman. The action takes some fun turns as Rachel finds help following the rules before deciding to break them, and a few convenient coincidences and deep technological details don't slow her blockbuster roll to cut the links in the Chain. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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