Julia is disappointed. She has come to journalist Tom Clarke to ask for help in finding her husband who has mysteriously disappeared.
Tom works for the Libertarian, an online political news site, sufficiently successful to get seats at the front of the Home Secretary's press conferences, and to have enough money to pay highly placed sources. He is 28, and had followed Libertarian editor Katherine Fry from the Sunday Times.
Julia produces a clipping - presumably a printout - of one of his stories, headlined "Commons consents to police criminality."
Tom glowers in grey scale at the head of the topmost page, through glasses he borrowed from a colleague and beneath hair that was combed for the occasion and photoshopped at his request - to seem fairer than its usual fawn.
Julia explains the efforts she has made so far to track down missing Arthur. Tom replies that if those people who know the law can't help her, he can't either.
"I'm a journalist. I'm just a journalist.... I just work here."
Not an impressive start by fearless Tom, but he does do some digging. He calls his contacts, an officer in the Met and a Home Office civil servant who, "has got tastes, shall we say, that require investment."
"The fact that they didn't say anything: it tells us something."
Tom is working in a paranoid Britain, under draconian Unified Security legislation brought in after terrorists blow up Drax power station, where the law and order apparatus leaks information for sinister purpose.
"We legitimise their actions, justify the time for which these people (terror suspects) can be held by making them seem more dangerous, sometimes, than they really are....
"We insinuate and incriminate and incite and the more we do the better the police look."
Eventually the News of the World runs a story about "Guantanamo UK", and a secret government prison, that is The Facility of the title, where a small number of gay men have been brutally incarcerated in a bid to stamp out a disease that explicitly resemble AIDS. One of them is Julia's husband, Arthur...
When the story breaks hardline Home Secretary Margaret Myers holds a news conference.
"There will be questions, I realise, about our decision to impose a media blackout on the story until now but I make no apologies for this. This government believes in governing, not scaremongering."
Trevor, from the Daily Express, asks "Don't you think the public had a right to know?"
The Home Secretary indulges in a show of irritation. "Do you really need me to answer that, Trevor? Do you think if we had told you, you would have confined yourself to reporting the facts? Do you think if we had come to you with our absolute assurance that the disease was under control you would have presented to the public a balanced responsible, reassuring message?"
- The Facility, by Simon Lelic (Mantle, £12.99) is reviewed on To Be Read.