A chance encounter in a fish-’n’-chip shop set Brendan James Murray on the trail of a mystery. Had a gay man been secretly murdered on HMAS Australia during the Second World War?
The veteran he spoke to was certain. ‘I knew about it,’ he said. ‘We all did.’
But was the story true? If so, who was the dead man? And why was it so hard to find out?
The Drowned Man is a search for the answer, almost stymied by cover-up and silence. In the end, it brings us to the lies that have shrouded our understanding of war, and especially of war at sea.
As one of the survivors poignantly says, ‘I want to pass it on to the next generation. What it was like. What it was really like.’
This is a work of kaleidoscopic intensity by a strong new Australian voice.