The Midnight Watch, by David Dyer

30 September 2021
The Midnight Watch, by David Dyer, book cover

The tragic 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic has intrigued and fascinated me for as long as I can remember. At age ten or eleven I found a battered copy of the late Clive Cussler’s 1976 novel Raise the Titanic!, in a box of books left out on the street, and then a short time later saw the 1953 film of the vessel’s sinking, although all I recall of that now is its haunting ending.

While it’s been sometime since I watched or read anything Titanic related, The Midnight Watch (published by Penguin Books Australia, February 2017), by Sydney based Australian former ship’s officer, and lawyer, turned teacher and writer David Dyer, recently caught my eye. The story is a fictionalised recounting of events on board the SS Californian, one of the ships in the vicinity of the ill-fated Titanic as it was sinking.

While the captain and senior officers of the Californian were aware the Titanic was in distress – it fired numerous distress flares into the night – they chose to keep their distance, even though they were close enough to see the stricken vessel. Why the Californian stayed put is a question The Midnight Watch attempts to resolve, and it is difficult not to wonder how many lives might have been saved had it rendered assistance.

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