THE CHAIN: Five Questions with Adrian McKinty



This book rocked . . . my . . . world. 


How many times do parents say something along the lines of, “I’d do anything for my kids, anything” without ever giving it a second thought as to what that could actually mean? I’m guilty, no doubt. But like most, I never considered how such feelings could be used against me. Thankfully, Adrian McKinty did, and he crafted one insanely addictive, hart-thumping story around that central idea. 

The great Don Winslow, author of The Force and more recently, The Border, the final book in his bestselling Cartel trilogy, called The Chain “Jaws for parents,” and he couldn’t have hit the nail any harder on the head. Why? Because just like Jaws incited fear into the hearts of many—be honest, if you’re in a body of water and you hear duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn, you’re going to freak out—McKinty will leave readers full of new fears too. Only instead of water, its, well, everything.  

Without giving too much of the story away, The Chain follows a group of parents who are notified that their children have been abducted, and that the only way to save them is to kidnap another child, then call their parents and instruct them to do the same thing. If one parent fails to comply, everyone dies. It’s a chilling premise, one that McKinty presents as all too plausible—and I encourage everyone to check it out. 

Just ahead of his book’s release, Adrian McKinty agreed to go on the record for our Five Questions segment, and I asked him about everything from how he came up with the story idea for this one to what’s next for him. See the full Q&A below, then click here to order your copy of The Chain, now available in bookstores everywhere. 


The Chain



TBRS: Man, this book messed me up . . . in a good way! I’ve never read anything quite like this before. Don Winslow called it “Jaws for parents,” and he’s right. How on earth did you come up with the plot details for The Chain?

McKinty: Well, I was in Mexico working on a different book (a novel about the assassination of Trotsky that was going nowhere) when I read about these “exchange kidnappings” whereby one member of a victim’s family would exchange themselves for a different more vulnerable member while they attempted to raise the ransom. I tied that to those terrible scary Chain letters that we used to get in the 1970s and 80s and I thought what about a chain of kidnappings and then the idea just grew. 

TBRS: What sort of research did you have to do before actually sitting down to write this one?

McKinty: I did a lot of research on kidnappings for money and what personal information people put on Facebook (a lot!) as I’m not on Facebook but my wife is. I was stunned frankly by how much info people put online about their lives, their addresses their comings and goings. It amazed me completely. It’s scary actually. 

TBRS: Obviously, there was some huge news that broke the other day about Paramount buying the movie rights to this book. Has that reality set in yet, and what was your initial reaction?

McKinty: Again I was completely stunned. I wrote The Chain the way I wrote my other novels as a character-driven story where the characters turn the big wheels of the plot. But obviously my other books were mostly set in Belfast Northern Ireland so perhaps that was a hard sell for some people. This book I deliberately set in America to be a bit more accessible but I am amazed by how much it HAS connected with audiences. I can only attribute it to two things: 1) finally having a full-time agent, the great Shane Salerno and 2) luck. 

TBRS: How has your life changed with the hype and success around this book?

McKinty: To be honest I’m still processing it. But it is wonderful not to be living in fear anymore. Until a few weeks ago my wife Leah and I had no idea how we were ever going to afford to put our kids through college and, if this all works out, now we will be able to do so. 

TBRS: Lastly, now that The Chain is set to hit bookstores, what’s next for you? 

McKinty: I’ve written a new one of my Duffy books called The Detective Up Late which will be out with Blackstone in the US and Orion in the UK. And I’m working this summer and into the fall on a brand new standalone of which I can reveal: nothing . . . 


Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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