Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The ChainThe Chain by Adrian McKinty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

McKinty's fans will notice that this book shares something in common with many of his other titles. He likes to figure out both plans of attack and plans of escape. He likes to think up situations that seem impossible to solve, and then solve them. In this story however, the villain seems to have come up with the perfect crime. How do you get someone to do the unthinkable? Get someone else to do the unthinkable to them first. In this case, the unthinkable is the kidnapping of a child. If your own child is abducted, how far will you go to get that child safely back?

"The Chain" as this fiendish strategem is called, seems to be unbreakable, and Rachel, our protagonist, is resourceful, but she's not a superhero. She goes to work to save her child, and in the process becomes part of the dark side herself. Although in the screenwriting world, this story is what would be called a 'high concept' work (and it does have 'movie' written all over it), it also takes some passing glances at the deeper sides of human nature and human meaning. What can it really mean to call oneself a good person when in reality we are all vulnerable and thus easily compromised?

In an afterword, McKinty refers back to the dark power chain letters had in the small northern Irish community of his childhood, where the danger of breaking the chain was taken more seriously than it was in, say, my youth. The author witnessed someone take it upon herself to break the chain and it made a lasting impression on him. I have no doubt that the power Rachel ultimately finds in herself derives in no small part from that woman.

One thing I miss in this novel is McKinty's trademark humor, as there is very little to laugh about here. But never fear. Word is that there's a new Sean Duffy coming out in the fall. Good time now then, to catch up on or reread that series.

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