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The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu

Sax Rohmer

Book Overview: 

The first of the Fu-Manchu novels, this story follows Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie who are set against the machinations of the insidious doctor.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .More fire fell from above, and the scream of hysteria quivered, unuttered, in my throat.

Keeping myself afloat with increasing difficulty in my heavy garments, I threw my head back and raised my eyes.

No more drops fell, and no more drops would fall; but it was merely a question of time for the floor to collapse. For it was beginning to emit a dull, red glow.

The room above me was in flames!

It was drops of burning oil from the lamp, finding passage through the cracks in the crazy flooring, which had fallen about me—for the death trap had reclosed, I suppose, mechanically.

My saturated garments were dragging me down, and now I could hear the flames hungrily eating into the ancient rottenness overhead. Shortly that cauldron would be loosed upon my head. The glow of the flames grew brighter … and showed me the half-rotten piles upholding the building, showed me the tidal mark upon the slim. . . Read More

Community Reviews

First published in 1913, read by me over 100 years later in 2014. Yes, there are overwhelming amounts of Orientalism and obnoxious English stereotyping. For example, Dr. Fu Manchu is always the face of the "yellow threat." So the novel displays the xenophobia of the age. However, it does present...more

I like this book, but I feel a little guilty about it. It's not just that it is permeated with orientalist attitudes, but that it makes those attitudes seem less quaint and more sinister because they are reinforced here by blatant racism. It is bad enough that the villain embodies the malevolent...more

"The most brilliant criminal mind to have existed in generations!" is how our Asian Moriarty is breathlessly described in this shameless Sherlock Holmes ripoff, featuring a doctor sidekick narrating an adventure in which the protagonist is his brilliant detectiveish friend.

The problem with hyper...more

This is the first in a series of popular Techno-thriller; Spy fiction written before WWI. It’s a Sherlock Holmes-like story. It pits English gentlemen against an Oriental [sic], evil, genius committing acts of espionage, kidnapping and assassination in London for a shadowy Chinese political movem...more

'The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu' is the American title for 'The Mystery of Fu Manchu' (published in the UK in 1913) which, in turn, was the novelisation of a series of short stories by Sax Rohmer published in 1912.

It is an exercise in sustained hysteria which is only partly explained by the original...more

To a student a literature, there are classics of older times for which allowances that must be made to understand the cultural in which they were written.

And then there's The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu

The story is simple enough. Knock-off Sherlock Holmes (henceforth KOSH) returns from Asia, inform...more

For better or worse, this provocative relic has become one of my favorite books. Rohmer invested his writing with an irresistible pulpy energy which borrows some of the superficial trappings of Doyle's Holmes and improves upon them. Anybody looking for fact or cultural accuracy shouldn't be readi...more

My handful of regular followers will think I've gone quite mad. This is a bad, bad book...but there is more than one way to read a novel, and a certain difference between 'so bad paint drying supervisory duty is a more fulfilling experience' and 'so far beyond bad it's somehow crossed back around...more

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