Bored with life in the Foreign Office soon after the turn of the century, a young man accepts an invitation to join a friend on a sailing holiday in the Baltic. But as they explore the mudflats and sandbanks of the Frisian Islands, it quickly becomes clear that the real object of the expedition is espionage, and the two men are soon engaged in a desperate race against time to prevent a German invasion of England.
Erskine Childers was born in 1870 to an Anglo-Irish family. A clerk in the House of Commons from 1895, he spent his holidays sailing the North Sea and the Channel. The Riddle of the Sands was published in 1903. In 1910 he resigned from the Commons to devote himelf to the achievement of Irish Home Rule. During the First World War he became a Royal Naval Intelligence Officer and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war he settled in Ireland and, when the Free State was established, joined the Republican army. He was shot in 1922 as a suspected British spy.