Subtitled A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian, The Midnight Watch is an incredible, engrossing story by a debut Australian novelist.
Dyer attempts to understand how the Captain and the crew of the Californian, the ship within sight of the sinking Titanic, failed to respond to the Titanic's distress flares - eight in total - until the following morning, when it was all too late.
John Steadman is the reporter who sniffs out that something is amiss. He becomes obsessed with unearthing what really happened on board the Californian that night. He needs to know the how and why...and so do we.
I couldn't put this book down.
I desperately hoped all the way through that somehow Dyer was going to rewrite history and give us a happier ending.
I desperately hoped all the way through that this was not going to be one of those stories that didn't actually answer any of the questions at the end. I really needed to know how this could happen.
Dyer has written a believable, well-researched, deeply psychological study into the nature of human frailty.
He delves into childhood trauma, personality traits and unconscious behaviours.
The real tragedy here is watching history fall through the gaps of miscommunication, assumptions and preconceived ideas. It's about how two men - two decent, flawed men - with contradictory, deeply held beliefs about the role of command, loyalty and leadership failed.
And an answer is provided. One that makes sense; one that feels real.
Due for publication in March with Penguin Australia.