The Facility

Simon Lelic

17 November 2016
368 pages


Henry Graves has dedicated his life to the prison service, but he is unprepared for the challenge his new and secret assignment brings. Tasked with managing a government facility hidden deep in the countryside, Henry finds himself tested as never before: by the confused and frightened prisoners, by the sinister Dr Silk and, above all, by his conscience.

Tom Clarke, a precocious but naive journalist, has his own problems meanwhile. His career – and his life – is turned upside down by the arrival of Julia Priestley, who seeks his help in finding her estranged husband, Arthur, an innocent dentist who has been arrested under severe new anti-terrorism legislation. The authorities admit they have taken him but will not say where he is being held – or why.

Discovering a trail that implicates those at the very top of government, Tom and Julia begin a quest to find Arthur, and the truth about his incarceration. But some people will stop at nothing to keep the facility’s secret hidden, and soon the couple find themselves fighting for their lives . . .

'Three possible candidates for the Granta U.K. class of 2013 are Ned Beauman, Joe Dunthorne and Simon Lelic. Lelic’s three novels are breakneck, intelligent 'social thrillers' that even invade my dream-life' David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
‘Nails the reader’s attention from the off. Starting with a brutal interrogation which bristles with verbal and physical violence, there is simply no putting the book down at any point. Lelic’s debut Rupture also had a striking central situation (a teacher kills three pupils and a colleague in a school before killing himself). The premise here is equally incendiary, with the bonus of a sure-fire setting: the secluded prison of the title, a hothouse of menace and corruption. Apart from his storytelling skills Lelic has two potent weapons in his armoury, his dialogue which is scabrous and flint-edged and his characters . . . As well as being an unputdownable thriller The Facility is a book with something to say about the price any country and its citizens must pay for security. However Lelic never lectures us and when we reach a tense confrontation on a railway platform in the last chapter readers will be checking their increased pulse rate rather than their consciences' Daily Express
‘A startling vision of totalitarian Britain . . . Simon Lelic’s debut, Rupture, was a bold reworking of the crime novel that showcased his ability to capture different voices and offered a perceptive deconstruction of facets of institutionalised bullying. His follow-up, The Facility, is more conventional fare: a dystopian near-future tale that imagines totalitarian powers pursued to their logical, horrific conclusion . . . Lelic creates a magnificent sense of place and deftly maintains the pace of his thriller plot as the security forces latch on to Tom and Julia . . . It is troubled prison governor Henry, and Arthur who are most rivetingly portrayed in this exploration of how the rights of the unvalued few are violated for ‘the greater good’ . . . Lelic’s crystalline prose is frequently utterly seductive and his compassion is deeply moving’ Metro