The Bombmaker - Stephen Leather

First Chapters

Ten years ago, Andrea Hayes was the best master bombmaker in the business. Young, beautiful and deadly, she was the favourite of her Irish Republican masters. Then it all went wrong. Four children were killed when disruption was all that was intended. It all became too much and she turned away from her trade.

 

Now, a new Andrea Hayes lives a safe suburban life, with her loving husband and young daughter, safe in the knowledge that her past is another country. But then her daughter is kidnapped by persons unknown and the past has come knocking.

 

As Andrea gets blackmailed into returning to her craft and building a bomb that dwarfs any planted by the IRA, a faceless mastermind is working behind the scenes to pull off one of the most daring scams in history.

 

 

Stephen Leather writes: The advent of the peace process in Northern Ireland put paid to a lot of thriller plots involving the IRA, but I think I've managed to come up with a new twist in The Bombmaker. It's a kidnapping story, which I'd wanted to write for some time, but I didn't want to do a straightforward kidnapping-for-money tale. I'm especially proud of the ending - a real race against time with a three-way Mexican standoff.

There's a couple of SAS characters in the book that I like -Crosbie and Payne - who I think will return in later books.

 

Reviews

Graham Caveney, Sunday Express

In her younger and politically nave student years, Andrea Hayes made bombs for the IRA. Only little ones, mind you; ones that were designed to wreck buildings not people, to create chaos not murder.

Thankfully, all that is behind her now. She has moved to Dublin and re-invented herself as a loyal wife, freelance writer and - most importantly - the doting mother of a seven-year-old girl. And then the daughter is kidnapped.

The parents' first thoughts inevitably lead to a ransom demand. The husband cashes in his stocks, re-mortgages the house and, with an almost incomprehensible level of anxiety, sits broodingly waiting by the phone.

It is only when the note arrives that Andrea realises that her past is not only alive, but kicking with an even more brutal ferocity. In exchange for the girl, she has to do IT again. Return to Semtex, to that most unforgiving craft of explosives and mayhem.

The premise of Leather's latest thriller unfolds as a relentless interplay between familial instinct, personal conscience and desperate survival. The moral dilemmas are infinite, and are invested with the raw urgency of a woman fighting to save a life more precious than her own.

Leather has clearly done his research, his knowledge of the mechanics of killing, walking the trepidation-filled line between cold-blooded science and the horrors it can produce. He has a superb eye for detail, giving us the pragmatics of terrorism in a style that menaces in its day-to-day plausibility. Butchery is a job, just like any other, and the novel takes us into the arts of darkness as well as its heart.

What propels the narrative's ingenuity is Andrea's dual role as potential villain and unwitting victim. She is a heroine who we empathise with despite our (and her) selves, a woman for whom doing the right thing cannot help but be wrong. The denouement of the novel is as gripping as its beginning, and I certainly have no intention of telling you how it is solved. What I will say is that this is as hi-tech and as world-class as the thriller genre gets. The kind of book, in fact, that I'm told they're not supposed to write em like anymore.

Thankfully, they do.

"The Bombmaker is an explosive read. You'll be gripped from page one" - Yorkshire Evening Press

"A wonderful last-line climax, one of the best in this year's crop of thrillers" - In Dublin Magazine

A kidnapped former bombmaker and the world of Oriental high finance are the explosive mix behind Leather's latest thriller surrounding the IRA. The many strands of the plot run side by side, building the tension superbly until it all falls seamlessly into place. The plot surrounds a retired IRA bombmaker who is dragged unwittingly back into the world of terrorism when her daughter is kidnapped and held to ransom, throwing her new life into confusion as her past catches up with her.

She is taken to London and made to build the biggest bomb Britain has ever seen, but Leather's skillfully-created characters mean there is more than one surprise along the way. As always, when Leather delves into the world of the IRA, there is plenty of action and so many different angles you don't know where the next shock is coming from - Coventry Evening Telegraph