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.
Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Chain! Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation and to Orion for the e-copy via NetGalley.
Have you read that blurb? Go on, read it, then read it again, then try to imagine it happening to you. Imagine you’re a single mum. Imagine you’ve beat cancer and you always thought that would the toughest thing you’d ever have to do (you’re wrong). Imagine being in your car, driving to your oncologist who wants to discuss your blood work. Imagine trying to wrap your head around that fact, knowing that being summoned to the oncologist’s first thing in the morning is probably not the best of signs, and then getting another phone call. It’s a complete stranger telling you that your life is about to change forever. Your daughter has been kidnapped. You have to pay a large ransom but it’s not about the money, it’s about The Chain and you have to honour it. Whatever you do, whatever else happens, you are now, and will forever be, a link in The Chain. (You hear the dramatic dumdumdumDUM in your head, right?)
There is only one phrase that applies to this premise and it is: holy crap! All of the above is exactly what happens to Rachel. Her daughter Kylie has been kidnapped at the bus stop and the only way to get Kylie back is to pay a ransom, but more importantly (and a lot more chillingly): to kidnap another child. Kylie has been taken by a couple whose child was abducted too. Once Rachel kidnaps another child, theirs will be released. And Kylie will only be released when the parents of the child Rachel has kidnapped abduct a child too. And so the chain continues. Should Rachel break the chain, Kylie will be murdered, and so will the other links in the Chain she’s connected to. In theory, the rules are very simple: no police, no law enforcement of any kind, seek out a child to kidnap, this child will be vetted and approved by the Chain’s Powers That Be, kidnap the child, contact the parents of the child and inform them of the rules. Piece of cake! In theory. In practice, Rachel is devastated, not only because her daughter has been taken, but also because she has to kidnap another innocent child. This is Breaking Bad to the nth degree: an innocent, ordinary, upstanding citizen forced down the darkest and most criminal path. This comprises the first part of the story, and I can tell you, it is every bit as riveting as it sounds. This is some anxiety inducing stuff, and I’m pretty sure any and all parents among you will want to lock up their kids and not let them out until they’re at least thirty.
I am loath to let slip anything remotely spoiler-ish, so I’m going to keep this next bit deliberately vague. The second part of The Chain revolves around vengeance. Although the new links of The Chain are always warned up front that they are forever part of The Chain and that they can never look back or alert any kind of law enforcement to its existence, some parents and kidnapped children can’t help but look back in order to move forward. So the second part of this novel is like a The Chain origin story. Is it really some type of ancient tradition or is it more recent than that? While certainly very interesting, the pace is quite a bit slower and after all the anguish I felt during the first part, I didn’t really know what to do with myself at the start of the second part. I must admit I saw most of the twists in this second part coming, so it was perhaps a tiny bit predictable (or this could be a sign that it’s high time I pursue that detective career, who’s to say) but that also gave me a very ominous feeling because I could see the writing on the wall and it was not a rom-com!
Overall, a suspenseful, gripping, entertaining read that I’d happily recommend to thriller-lovers everywhere. Reserve a spot in your suitcase or on your e-reader for this one this summer, but keep in mind that you’ll see very little of your holiday destination because you’ll have your nose in The Chain and won’t be willing to take it out!
Check out what these fabulous bloggers have to say about The Chain: