The Bombmaker - Stephen Leather Every parent's nightmare. A child is kidnapped and held under threat of death to force the parent to do something that may result in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Andy is a former IRA bomb-maker. Retired from the IRA after a bomb accidentally kills some children who were not the targets, she has another secret that we only learn mid-way through the book, but which has profound implications for everyone's actions. Martin, her husband, knows nothing of her past. Katie, their daughter, has been taken by a group of ostensible terrorists who want her to construct a massive fertilizer bomb, a la Timothy McVeigh, the kind of bomb that had been Andy's specialty. (Their ultimate motivation stretches credulity, but never mind.) In return they will keep Katie safe, they promise, but if Andy fails to follow instructions precisely, her daughter will die. Andy soon realizes that part of their plan is to tag the IRA for the bombing. Why, remains a mystery until almost the end.

Neither Andy nor the readers know the motivations of the "terrorist" cell, composed of a mix of true-believers (but in what?) and common criminals. We learn early on it's related to a shadowy Chinese general, whose motivations are equally suspect. That makes for a volatile mix but Andy and Katie are not without their own resources. Then throw in MI-5 to spice things up.

The actions and feelings of the participants struck me as very realistic, and one gets the feeling that these are real people dealing with what could be a very real situation (except for the Chinese motivation) and that ratchets up the tension considerably.

Great mowing/traveling listen.