The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Riddle of the Sands

By Erskine Childers

  • Release Date: 2014-12-30
  • Genre: Mysteries & Thrillers
Score: 4
From 5 Ratings
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In the rough waters of the North Sea, two sailors fight to save Britain

Charles Carruthers is languishing in the crushing heat of a London summer when an old university chum named Davies throws him a lifeline, inviting him on a yachting expedition in the North Sea. It sounds like a lark, but Carruthers finds that the Dulcibella is hardly a yacht, and Davies’s trip is no pleasure cruise. Off the coast of the mysterious Frisian Islands, he has spotted a German fleet, supposedly engaged in hunting for buried treasure. Battling the elements, the two Englishmen find themselves surrounded by the German navy, which is using the fogs of the North Sea to disguise something monstrous—the Kaiser’s plot to launch a sneak attack on the British Isles.

Published more than a decade before World War I began, this groundbreaking spy novel inspired a young Winston Churchill to reinvigorate Britain’s naval defenses, and it remains just as stirring today.

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“The first modern thriller.” —Ken Follett, author of World Without End

“A gripping book.” —TheGuardian

Erskine Childers (1870–1922) was a novelist and Irish nationalist. Born in London, he began writing military histories after serving in the Boer War, an experience that left him disillusioned with the cause of the British Empire. In 1903 he wrote The Riddle of the Sands, a pioneering spy novel that has never gone out of print. In 1914 he used his yacht to run German guns to Irish nationalists, whose cause he joined wholeheartedly at the start of the war for independence from Britain. In 1922 he was arrested and executed for carrying a pistol. His last request to his son was that he forgive the men who had betrayed him, asking the teenage boy to seek out every man who had signed his death warrant and shake their hands.


  • Good historic perspective

    By Lwaxantroi
    This was written in 1903, but shows great insight for a pre-WWI book. You get a real sense of the era and the development of the thriller genre.