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.
I’m late to the party as ever because I had this book for a while but then I suddenly had a really good reason to bump this novel to the top of my reading list. See just last month I found out that The Chain is the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. The author leaves Lee Child, Jane Casey, Will Carver and Chris Brookmyre behind him by winning this award. You can imagine that I just had to see for myself what made this novel so special.
And yes The Chain is special, the concept of the novel most of all. It’s a living nightmare when your child is kidnapped and when you are driven to do things that are immoral and criminal even. But wouldn’t you do anything for your child? How far would you go? Is there a limit? Would you harm another child in order to save yours? The whole system is quite a clever set up from the kidnappers and it looks flawless as well. Is there any way to stop this insane thing from happening over and over again? It would seem not and so I kept on reading, hoping that there was going to be a twist, something to change the odds and let the people behind all of it become the ones hunted.
The first half of the novel was gripping and frightening, the tension was hanging in the air and I had my eyes glued to the pages, but when the worst of the worst was over and I relaxed in the second part of the story, it also kind of lost its momentum a little bit. It picked back up again in the very end but it never really reached that same riveting level again as at first.
I did enjoy the characters of Rachel and Pete and they certainly made me wonder how a cancer patient and a heroin addict were going to lead to a twist to the story. Why do Americans always go looking for trouble? I didn’t see this ending well! Rachel and Pete are clever but so are the people behind The Chain so the game is on! I really enjoyed the way the author also wove the past of one of the characters into the present events. I believe that both parties surprised each other, and me in the process as well.
The whole novel is so movie-worthy, I could easily see it vividly in my head so I’m very happy it is already snapped up by Universal and is going to be turned into a movie. I’ll be at the front row to see this one!
I own a copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.
PS. The new WordPress editor didn’t save most of my review the first time I wrote it (which I was much happier with) but it is what it is now ;-). Also I hate that I can’t justify text anymore (at work I have to so it feels wrong) but what can you do huh?