There’s a bit of an irony in today’s blog post as I welcome Miles Montague to Linda’s Book Bag. I’ve been ‘staying in’ with authors in a virtual world for a couple of years but little did I realise how prescient an activity that might be as we’re all pretty much staying in at the moment. Indeed, I should be off to India as we speak, but world events have had other ideas.
My thanks to Ben Cameron for putting Miles in touch with me and providing a copy of Miles’ book for me to read in the future.
Staying in with Miles Montague
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Miles. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thank you for inviting me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve chosen Carbon Game, a political crime thriller set in the mid 1980’s.
Oo. That’s my era. I’d finished university and got married in 1983. So, what can we expect from an evening in with Carbon Game?
Carbon Game is a fast paced political, cat and mouse crime thriller set in the mid 1980’s in both Britain and South Africa. This was a time of great domestic and international, social and political upheaval. We are taken into a world of diamond smuggling, the anti-Apartheid movement, the IRA troubles in Britain and the involvement of the Soviet Union in Angola during that period.
That sounds thrilling. I love South Africa and remember the IRA threat only too well. How did you get the idea for Carbon Game?
The idea for Carbon Game came about when I worked for a major international diamond company in London as a valuer. During that time I was told a story by a diamond buyer which really got my imagination going.
He told me that in Western Africa there was a great deal of diamond smuggling from the alluvial deposits, primarily because of the civil war in Angola. This theme is partially shown in the film Blood Diamonds starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The buyer went on to say that there were agents or buyers from all over the world located there and their task was to buy the best stones they could. He went on to describe how the smugglers would buy brand new 4×4 vehicles, often Land Rovers. They would bag up their diamonds and hide them in the engine oil sump. However, often some diamonds would escape and get into the engine mechanism which would wreak havoc. One way the buyers would know that the smugglers were coming was the loud rattling noises coming from those broken engines. After the smugglers had got the diamonds out from the engine sump they would often just leave the vehicle in the middle of nowhere and go buy another one.
These highly valuable alluvial diamonds are the best in the world. They are quite literally beautiful as they are eroded so they have a smooth skin and when they trickle through your fingers they give a sensation that you will never forget.
They sound wonderful Miles.
I wanted Carbon Game to encapsulate that dynamic period of the 80’s. For me, it was important for the plot to be fast paced, authentic and exciting, with strong plausible characters. Two of my favourite writers, Alistair Maclean and Frederick Forsyth achieve this. Although I carefully planned the plot,along the way I was pleasantly surprised by new ideas that came out of the blue, and new characters that stepped onto the stage. For instance, I changed the ending of the finished book in the middle of the night. I was lying in bed in that grey zone between being awake and asleep, and at 4am a new ending came to me. I remember thinking, ‘stay in bed, you will remember it’, but I forced myself to get up and change it. I often get ideas during my sleep.
Gosh! That’s just as well, as you might have forgotten by the time you got up!
An unexpected dilemma I faced in re-creating the 1980’s, was how I should portray the social interactions of that time, as since that period tremendous social advancements have been made. I chose to be truthful to the 1980’s. I get the impression from the reviews I have received that readers appreciate the authenticity of the characters.
That must be very gratifying.
What else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought some photos which are linked to the Carbon Game‘s plot and show the area in Central London where the main event happens…
Cranmer ‘s viewing point. Charterhouse Street to the right and Hatton Gardens straight ahead.
Lloyds bank from which Janet Bromsgrove exits and gives the ‘Go’ signal.
Shoe Lane where the DTC staff are evacuated to.
Now of course, you’ve intrigued me Miles and made me want to know more about Carbon Game. I’m thrilled that I have a copy on my TBR awaiting review. Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me all about it.
Ex-military operative Michael Cranmer is instructed by his far Right-wing political leaders in South Africa to return to London where he has infiltrated an extremist faction within MASA, a British Left-wing movement.
A violent diamond robbery gone wrong gives Cranmer the opportunity to implement his plan to realise his party’s ambitions. He manipulates the MASA faction into carrying out his plan, little realising their leader, Janet Bromsgrove, has no intention of playing by his rules.
Meanwhile, following a tip-off from an informant, a crack team of MI5 officers closes in on the extremists.
Can MI5 prevent a bloody catastrophe on the streets of London and the downfall of governments on opposite sides of the world?
Set against the backdrop of the international anti-apartheid movement of the mid-1980s, Carbon Game is a political crime thriller that will keep you gripped right to the last page.
Published on 16th February 2020, Carbon Game is available for purchase through the links here, where you can also read the first chapter of the book.
About Miles Montague
Miles Montague worked in London as a valuer in the diamond industry in the 1980’s. His first thriller, Carbon Game, is set during this period. His work taught him a great deal about the international diamond business. He has a deep interest in international politics and economics, and loves the challenge of complex plot and deep character creation required of thriller writing.
He was born in Kenya and lived there until his family, like many other colonials, returned to England in the mid 1960s. He can still remember, as a young boy, watching the severe storm at sea when they rounded the South African coast on their way home and the swimming pool almost emptying of water as the liner lurched to the battering of waves. This gave him a love of nature and drama. So it is no surprise that today, he is turning a rundown, hilltop Italian wine-producing property into a sanctuary for nature where he can watch the storms rolling in and writing his second thriller, which is also partially set in Africa.