Reviews

What You Didn’t Know About the Titanic: The Midnight Watch

The Midnight Watch Book Cover The Midnight Watch
David Dyer
Historical Fiction
St. Martin's Press
2016
319

The Midnight Watch follows the story of the men caught up in the tragedy of the Titanic. These men stood by on the nearby steamer, The Californian, and watched as the Titanic sank on the night of April 14th, 1912. They didn't report the ship, and they didn't wade through the Atlantic ice to save her. After the tragedy, the men must grapple with their decision and fend off those who dig mercilessly for the truth.

The Midnight Watch is deeply sad. Dyer managed to find something even more heart-wrenching than the tragedy of the Titanic– living with the guilt that you could have saved every last passenger, but didn’t.

On the Midnight Watch

I keep standing on the deck of the Californian, watching the Titanic cry for help from across the Atlantic. Eight times. The Titanic fired eight unheeded distress rockets. The Californian saw them all.

If you find yourself wondering what the men on the Californian were thinking, you must read this book. (Fictional) main character John Steadman from the (real) Boston American newspaper gets sucked into the mystery immediately.

He dogs the two men responsible– Herbert Stone and Captain Lord– for answers.

Steadman becomes encumbered with these men. He finds he can’t let them go, even when the rest of the world has. Even when his relationship with his newspaper, the Boston American, becomes tense, he must find out what these men knew on the night of April 14th, 1912.

I found myself trying to read The Midnight Watch very slowly, so I could savor it. I really felt like I had to pay attention because there is very little going on. The book loads its plate with the one plot and that’s it. It doesn’t break away from Steadman’s half-obsessive search for the truth of the tragedy.

But if you blink you could miss some very important details. Not the hard facts, but what the men are trying to say without saying it. Dyer doesn’t make it easy– the characters mean what they say but only if you look close enough.

What Dyer does masterfully is the way he makes you forgive his characters when they need forgiving, and condemn them when they need condemning. I still don’t know which side I’m on. The Titanic sank– do we blame or move on?

Reminds Me Of

A true-crime documentary.

Recommendation

Read it. Cry an ocean of tears.

 

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