The brilliant author of the six-strong Sean Duffy series, Irishman Adrian McKinty has shifted terrain with magical effect. “The Chain” is one of those blockbuster thrillers with a premise so remarkable one wonders why it hasn’t been used before. A single mother, on an ordinary day, is thrust into hell when her daughter is kidnapped and she’s told by the kidnapper to pay a ransom (in bitcoin!) and to perpetuate “the chain” by kidnapping someone else’s child. The book kicks off at a ferocious pace and then accelerates, building up tension to an almost unbearable level. The characters, both heroes and villains, are vividly portrayed. McKinty is a robust yet elegant stylist and manages to both catapult the action and mystery forward and retain deep character connections. For this reader, “The Chain” was a single-night midnight-breaching read. A 2019 standout.