Archive for September 26th, 2009


The Riddle of the Sands

September 26, 2009

The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers, is a spy novel from 1903 about two Englishmen who know they’ve stumbled upon some kind of secret regarding Germany’s naval plans, but aren’t quite sure what it is.

Carruthers, the narrator, is a clerk in the Foreign Office. As the book begins, he’s stranded in London after the social season has ended, and he’s pretty bitter about it. His vacation comes too late to join any of the house parties to which he’s been invited, so he ends up accepting a dubious-sounding invitation from Davies, an acquaintance from college who is yachting in the Baltic. When he arrives, Carruthers is shocked to find that Davies’ yacht isn’t shiny and adorned with lots of brass fittings. Also, although he went to some effort to find a bunch of things Davies asked for — a stove, rigging screws, a prismatic compass — Davies says he probably won’t need them, and Carruthers comes to suspect that Davies only asked for them so that he could indulge his passion for throwing things overboard. Read the rest of this entry ?