Journalist, novelist, politician, agitator, spy - this author's life would make better reading than any of his fiction. Still, this spy thriller raised a lot of commotion when first published in 1903. Indeed, it spawned a whole genre. It is a first-person tale of stereotypical young Englishmen on the scent of German spies in the North Sea. This is all very conventional Edwardian fare except for the loving details of yachting and the prophetic hint of German imperial ambition. Dermot Kerrigan has the right sound for the hero/storyteller - youthful, energetic, just a bit strident.
Carruthers is rescued from a hot summer at a deserted Foreign Office in London, by an out-of-the-blue invitation to join an acquaintance, Davies, on his yacht in the Baltic. He arrives to find not only that he comprises the whole crew, but also that Davies needs his help in a spying mission with enormous stakes. The Riddle of the Sands, with its early warnings of the dangers of a German invasion by sea, created a sensation when it appeared in 1903. It is the forerunner of the spy novels of John le Carré and Graham Greene, and its detail and dry humor have made it a classic for sailors as well as for thriller addicts.
(P)1995 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.; ©1995 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.
I read an old paperback of this book a few years ago, and am so pleased to see it here where it will hopefully be rediscovered. The best aspects are its unusual geographic setting and the dreamlike/nightmarish quality taken on by the protagonist's little sailing trip. I hope the recording is good because the story deserves a larger audience (not to mention a film deal).
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