November 24, 1922. There are a few unusual deaths among mystery writers, but I think only Erskine Childers, author of the classic The Riddle of the Sands, was killed by a firing squad. Formerly a dedicated member of the British Army, after the Boer War, Childers became committed to Irish independence. During the Irish Civil War he was arrested by Free State forces for carrying a semi-automatic pistol. Two weeks later he faced the firing squad in Dublin.