James Carthew-West, the penniless skipper of the Exmouth coasting vessel Luck and Charity, is chartered by a rich trader to carry unprofitable cargo to Flanders through the treacherous shallows of the Scheldt estuary and return with worthless mud ballast. His crewman Austin Voodgt, a former investigative journalist, is intent on revealing the true conspiracy behind this bizarre trade, but with each new discovery comes the growing realisation that there are lives at stake – beginning with their own.
The Mystery of the Mud Flats, first published as WO2, was considered one of the most thrilling adventure stories of its time, combining a first-class mystery with the eternal lure of the sea. Introducing the Dutch maritime detective Austin Voogdt (later dubbed ‘Sherlock of the Sea’), and with its unique English Channel setting, this story of intrepid yachtsmen caught up in smuggling, espionage, and the growing menace of Germany as a military power, made truly exciting reading.
This Detective Club classic is introduced by Nigel Moss, who explores how Maurice Drake’s popular seafaring novel epitomised pre-war ‘invasion literature’ and helped usher in a new genre of adventure spy fiction.