When I wrote The Benevolent Deception, I knew I was creating a fictional conspiracy that if ever came into existence in the real world, would have profound impacts everywhere. To do the story justice I knew I must write a global novel covering as many regions, economies, cultures and geographies as I could, simply to demonstrate how the mystery is affecting everyone.
In the first book I made a conscious decision to cover five continents and ten countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan, Colombia, Kenya, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, United States, India and South Africa — all of them different from each other with their own cultures and appeal.
In the second of my Thrilling Location (read Part 1 here) article for The Benevolent Deception, I describe places featured in the middle part of the novel covering Germany, the United Kingdom and Central Kenya.
Secret Service Special Agent Peri Keser arrives in Berlin hot on the trail of the U.S. President, who may or may not have been murdered in Afghanistan. If he’s dead, then who is impersonating him at a NATO conference in Germany’s capital? If he’s alive, who’s corpse did she witness in Afghanistan? Keser is determined to uncover the truth.
I chose Berlin for this sequence partially because I spent time here a few years after the Berlin Wall came down, but also because of its rich history in shaping Europe over the last hundred and fifty years, and its modern, multicultural and artistic vibe. Berlin is among my favorite European cities.
Although I travelled here in summer, the city was cold and raining the whole time so I reflected that in the narrative. Beer could be drunk almost everywhere and the Reichstag was draped in flags. Locals liked that I practiced my not very good German, but then everyone switched to English because everyone spoke it as fluently as I did.
What struck me as odd at the time was how quickly the Berlin Wall had come down, even after only five years since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
What had lasted longer was the legacy of Russia’s occupation. Many of the Russian soldiers based in Berlin and the rest of Eastern Europe had faced an uncertain future when they returned home. Most sold possessions they would no longer need including uniforms, medals and weapons. I have several Russian medals at home that I picked up in the Berlin street markets. I feel there is a story behind each one of them that I will never know.
London, United Kingdom
London is investigative journalist Conner Rafferty’s first stop after his return from the jungles of South America. He’s uncovered a secret NSA program called SHATTERHAND that can provide uncannily accurate intelligence on people, places and organizations anywhere in the world. Then he discovers that a fellow journalist who was investigating the same story died during a recent mugging, and that a data center company in London might be managing some of the servers used by the SHATTERHAND program.
London is an incredible city and I used it as a base while I was travelling in Europe, steeped with so much history. I remember walking down a street and noticing a plaque that said Sir Isaac Newton used to work in the building it was attached to, and seeing up close the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the British Museum. London felt to be the entertainment capital of the world, with so much to do any time of the day or night, I spent more time there than I did in the rest of England.
In the United Kingdom, there is one CCTV camera for every 32 people. That’s 1.85 million cameras. It’s not that difficult for a program like SHATTERHAND to keep tabs on all its targets if it can tap into every single one of them.
Former intelligence officer Simon Ashcroft and American tourist Casey Irvine have teamed up after escaping a massacre at a safari camp in Samburu, speeding south to escape the Kenyan police who are hot on their trail. Everyone with a gun, it seems, is trying to kill Casey, but she has no idea why and Simon doesn’t either.
Many of the scenes in this part of the novel are based on my own travels through the region. I drove around Mount Kenya and never saw it once as it was constantly shrouded in cloud. At 5,199m, it is the second highest peak in Africa, an extinct volcano that was formed 3 million years ago. So large, it has its own weather patterns.
Mount Kenya is the source of many of the rivers in the region and the tropical forests I drove through. Without Mount Kenya, the region would be a desert. Its presence opened up many opportunities for Simon and Casey to pass varying environments during the pursuit across the country, including cloud forests, the townships of Meru and Embu, and Kamburu Dam.
This poor, arid region of the country halfway between Mount Kenya and the Indian Ocean is a semi-desert, where Simon and Casey make a dash for the coast and transport out of Africa. Since it is located not that far from Tsavo East National Park, I decided this was a great location for Simon and Casey to experience some up-close encounters with Africa’s wildlife.
After an off-road chase through the scrublands being pursued by the Kenyan Army, then another violent encounter with a jet fighter, Simon and Casey are forced to march through the night with a pack of hyena’s on their trail.
My Kenyan experiences of the 1990s included safari trips at national parks where I was lucky enough to see most of Africa’s megafauna up close. I’m not sure why I chose hyenas, because Simon and Casey could have easily encountered lions, elephants, rhinoceros or hippopotamus, all of which can be deadly to humans. Perhaps it was hyenas because I still remember a vivid scene from The Diamond Hunters by Wilbur Smith I read as a teenager, where the hero experienced his own brutal encounter with hyenas. I wanted to recapture that experience in my own book.
One of the oldest cities in Kenya, Mombasa was founded in 900AD. It has been occupied by numerous groups including Omanis, the Portuguese, the British and the Swahili people, and they’ve all left their impressions on the city. It has a real Islamic feel particularly in the architecture in the old parts of the city. Seen everywhere are intricately carved doors in the Zanzibar style.
The city that was also visited by my favorite Victorian Era British Explorer, Sir Richard Francis Burton, so it was kind of cool to imagine I might have stood in the same places he stood over 150 years ago.
Simon and Casey arrive in Mombasa looking for passage on a container ship. This is an opportunity for the two to catch their breath, work out who might want them dead, and what they should do next. But not for long, the cyberterrorists behind the mysterious Benevolent Program soon find them here, even after they’ve abandoned all electronic devices which could be used to track them.
Where can you read The Benevolent Deception?
So here ends the second location report for The Benevolent Deception. You can read my technothriller espionage thriller in both print and Kindle available at all Amazon sites including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. It is also available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited.
Lastly, thank you to everyone who has emailed me and reviewed my books. I ready every one, and they mean the world to me.