"The Chain" (Little, Brown), by Adrian McKinty
Adrian McKinty delivers one of the best thrillers of the year with "The Chain."
Kylie is a 13-year-old girl who is abducted on her way to school. The man and woman responsible are parents who are also dealing with the kidnapping of their own child. Kylie's mom, Rachel, receives the phone call. At first, she doesn't believe that her child isn't in school. Rachel is divorced and isn't wealthy, so why was her daughter targeted? Then she learns the ransom isn't the essential part of getting her child back. She must pay, but she must also keep the chain going by kidnapping a child herself. If she goes to law enforcement, then Kylie will be killed and her kidnappers will be forced to take another child. They cannot break the chain.
Rachel realizes that if she doesn't find a suitable child to kidnap, her daughter will die. Then she receives another phone call giving her possible candidates to abduct. She had been thinking about going to the authorities, but now she knows the top links of the chain are ruthless — and powerful.
How far does the chain reach, and how many victims have suffered from this scheme? Rachel has to find the inner strength to bring her daughter back safe and sound, but will she actually be free from the chain if she succeeds?
Parents will do anything for their children, but does that include committing a felony? That dilemma throws the story into high gear, but it feels like whatever Rachel does is already predetermined, giving "The Chain" an escalating sense of hopelessness. She comes across as everyone's next-door neighbor, making the story even more frightening and personal.