Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Story: In the early twentieth century, a British man agrees on a whim to go on a boat trip with a sailing fanatic he hardly knows, and while their personalities and different backgrounds cause them to clash at first, they soon become good friends. As they look into some odd circumstances that nearly got the sailor killed, they realize that they may have stumbled onto a German scheme to invade England, and decide to find out if their suspicions are justified.

My Thoughts: While this book starts out a bit slow, the lively writing style keeps things interesting, and soon the pace picks up. Sometimes the lengthy nautical details were dull, but I found them easy to skim over without losing track of the story. The mystery is complicated, and while some elements of it are shaky, overall I was impressed at how the author wove everything together.

This novel is often considered the first spy thriller, and it holds up well to the test of the time, despite some archaic aspects. The author’s real life love of sailing can be clearly seen, particularly in one of the main characters, which fills the story with his enthusiasm for the subject and makes it believable and fun. It’s a worthwhile read for thriller fans who don’t mind an older style of writing.

Content Overview: Some mild foul language and mild violence.

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