Grayling Press, 2013. 240 pages, paperback. $4.99 Kindle, $12.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Debra J. White
The Chain is a laudable but overly ambitious attempt to expose the horrors in slaughterhouses. Author Robin Lamont obviously did exhaustive and commendable research in order to describe in excruciating detail routine slaughterhouse operations that, if witnessed, might cause many people to quit eating meat.
The largely predictable story begins when animal welfare investigator Jude Brannock, described as “seasoned and passionate,” arrives in Bragg Falls, a small town that hangs on because of a meat packing plant. Jude and her mixed breed dog Finn rent a room at a local motel, planning to meet Frank Marino, a plant employee who has produced a damaging undercover video. But Marino is found dead in his car of an apparent overdose and the videotape is missing. Without the tape or other solid evidence of alleged animal abuse inside the slaughterhouse, Jude cannot make a case against the slaughterhouse. Suspecting that a crime has been committed to suppress exposure of animal abuse, Jude sticks around to investigate.
In such a small town, word of her presence quickly spreads. Management threatens any worker who talks to Jude with termination. The local sheriff keeps tabs on her. Jude presses workers and Frank’s family and friends for information. Was his death really a suicide? What happened to the tape?
The company wants her gone and spares no effort to expedite her exit from the town. It’s not surprising that Jude learns of improperly stunned hogs, workers who mistreat animals, and diseased animals who are slaughtered and sold despite the presence of a USDA veterinarian.
Jude’s dog Finn is kidnapped, pig blood is splashed on her car, and her hotel room is broken into. There’s evidence to suggest Frank’s drug purchases may be falsified. Could the corporate owners be involved?
The Chain is promoted as a suspense novel. I would not call it that. However, it is well written, informative, and I doubt that any reader will want to bite into a piece of sausage after turning the last page.