As the Titanic slipped into its icy grave, the SS Californian slept just miles away. So why didn’t the British ship come to her aid?
From the muddy streets and dark taverns of Boston to the frigid, murky waters of the North Atlantic, Dyer’s debut novel turns the kaleidoscope, retelling the tale of the unsinkable ship through a new lens. Playing lead detective is veteran journalist John Steadman, who smells trouble when the Californian arrives in Boston Harbor without any rescued bodies and without any desire to speak to the press. The mystery encompasses five sailors: Cyril Evans, the wireless man, tried to warn the Titanic of treacherous ice fields, but he was shut down by the other ship's own wireless operator. Charlie Groves, the third officer, watched a ship in the distance suddenly go dark. James Gibson, a young apprentice, saw something that looked like Morse code flashing in the night sky. Herbert Stone, the second officer, had the midnight watch, and he saw rockets fired from a ship in the distance that night. Yet Capt. Lord gave no order to respond. The next morning, Evans discovers that the magnetic detector for the wireless equipment has wound down, delaying the arrival of news that the Titanic has sunk. Alternating chapters between Steadman’s detective work and the officers’ conflicting stories darkens the suspicions. Much of the tension centers on the fraying relationship between Stone and Lord. Obsessed with Melville’s Moby-Dick, Stone longs to play a faithful Starbuck to a noble Capt. Lord’s Ahab. Yet as Lord repeatedly dismisses Stone’s interpretation of events, Stone begins to wonder if the moral compass is skewed, indeed. As Steadman peels back the layers, will he find dishonor, conspiracy, and subterfuge or perhaps simply muddled memories?
Dyer rekindles the suspense and outrage of the Titanic inquiry.