I LOVED this book. David Dyer, a former lawyer who worked for the London firm that represented the Titanic’s owners after it tragically sunk in 1912, taking over 1,500 people with it, has done an amazing job in creating a fictionalised account of a true story. The true part - that when the Titanic first fired its distress rockets, the SS Californian saw. And did nothing while the Titanic went down. However, the rest of Dyer’s account, while drawing on real events, is largely fiction.
The story opens with the Midnight Watch (12am-4am) on the SS Californian, where officer Herbert Stone witnessed distress rockets and, allegedly, alerted his disinterested captain. What follows is a tense, haunting exposition on the relationship between the captain and his officers, the nature of the that relationship and what should, and should not, be sacrificed for it.
I learned a great deal about steam ships and nautical politics, and it was never boring. Dyer’s writing, aided by the drunk and disorderly journalist pursuing the story, John Steadman, is lonely, mournful enough that you do really believe in this haunted ocean, but the relief of the dogged, debaucherous Steadman is welcome.
📚 📚 📚 📚/5
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