I have always admired Erskine Childers’ book The Riddle of the Sands. For one thing, it was the first modern thriller. For another, it is one of the greatest novels about living and sailing on small boats. The story, in case you have not read it, concerns the discovery of German plans to invade Britain in 1902, and their thwarting by Davies and Carruthers, a pair of amateur yachtsmen. The Riddle’s only flaw is that the villain, the renegade and class traitor Dollmann, drowns himself from shame at the denouement.
This flaw has always bugged me – I have met many villains, and none of them showed any trace of this kind of self-sacrifice. So after several cruises in the Frisian islands I wrote The Shadow in the Sands, being the story of the events of the subsequent year, told not by a gentleman yachtsman, but by Charlie Webb, a paid hand or hired crewman on a gentleman’s yacht. This is the first book in which a paid hand has his say. The perspective is working-class, the language earthy, the yachting unsportsmanlike. The book can be read on its own, or as a continuation of the Riddle – which everyone should read.
The Sunday Times
“A racy and first-rate continuation of the Riddle of the Sands”
Mail on Sunday
The Shadow in the Sands is now available as an ebook. Click here