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Peter Baker reviews the critically-acclaimed new mystery thriller from author Adrian McKinty.

IN THIS DIGITAL AGE of easy access to the viewed modes of entertainment such as the cinema, the television or the iPad, why do we still take an author's prose of several thousand words and read it over many hours of our time? Instant gratification it is not. That said, if the storyline takes our interest, the characters emerge fully-formed from the pages and, in the end as we close the book or switch off the e-reader, we enjoy a sense of satisfaction that the time was well spent then the book has served an important purpose. It was entertainment.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty is some 350 pages in length, set in the United States and falls into the “whodunnit” camp. So, to make my position very clear early in this review, I should say if I thought it to be in the “can’t put it down” camp or if it gave rise to a “God, am I at chapter two yet?” groan. Or somewhere in between. Well, I found it to be a damn good read.

An unusual storyline – and here, I won't give away the ending, you need page 340 for that – put simply, it centres on the heroine, Rachel Klein and her attempts to recover her daughter who has been kidnapped at the orders of an evil, secret sect known as The Circle. A child is taken at their orders and cannot be released until the child’s family have paid a ransom and, keeping the circle concept intact, kidnaps another child, thus continuing the horror.

My enjoyment of the book was greatly enhanced by McKinty’s excellent description of Rachel’s anguish, planning and fortitude in the face of adversity. Her partner in the whole proceedings is Peter, an ex-Marine, a reforming heroin user and her ex-husband’s brother. A very mixed-up young man.

 Making no small allowance for the fact the story is set in the USA where the NRA is just as powerful as our IPA and Rachel purchases a shotgun at her downtown shopping centre with as much difficulty we have in buying a choc-coated ice cream, the storyline is acceptable and not totally unbelievable. You don’t start muttering “rubbish” to yourself as the drama unfolds.

So was it a good read, a “can’t put it down” contender or did I lose several hours to a wasted cause? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I kept reading the next chapter to see how Rachel and Pete were getting on. Picking the book up at spare moments to cheer for the home team. Put simply, I really enjoyed my read and will unequivocally recommend it to others.

‘The Chain’ is available from Booktopia for $25.90 (paperback) RRP.

Peter Baker is a retired chartered accountant. He worked in the Australian Taxation Office for some 30 years, leaving at acting Assistant Commissioner level to go into private practice in the NSW Riverina.

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