Terry Stiastny is an ex BBC TV journalist who knows Westminster inside out. It shows. Her tight, ingenious novel charts the causes and consequences of a political scandal that could have fallen from the pages of a broadsheet paper.
But this is not a contemporary story. Stiastny has chosen to set her novel in the late nineties, allowing her to explore the full awfulness of the Blairite media machine at its zenith. She also weaves in a very credible Le Carre-esque story of lost Stasi records that conceal more than one damaging secret. She's really nailed the tone of the time, and she paints very realistic pictures of the politicians and journalists of the time; to the point where anyone who was there at the time will be hunting for traces of real personalities behind the richly-drawn characters.
But Acts of Omission is much more than just a 'political thriller'. Its real weight lies in its human stories, as Stiastny takes us unsparingly through the impact of the scandal on a 'beleaguered' politician and his family, with great realism and compassion. And she saves her most moving revelation for the book's final pages. This is one of those brilliant moments where the point-of-view character isn't aware of what they're witnessing. Keep your eyes peeled for it: it brought tears to this reader's eyes.