Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer

Written in 1913 I feel it best to warn anyone who picks this book up that you will find racial slurs and prejudices in there that were acceptable at the time.

Following the sudden appearance at his home by his old friend and rather mysterious man with connections, Nayland Smith, Dr Petrie finds himself embroiled in a chase about London after the mysterious Dr Fu-Manchu. Skilled in sciences beyond their (and, at one point, our) comprehension their foe is always two steps ahead and increasing his body count as he goes.

Smith describes his foe as "tall, lean, and feline, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan," which really says it all about the sort of character we're expecting him to be.

Smith & Petrie go tearing through London trying to save the lives of rather influential figures in a way rather reminiscent of Holmes and Watson (though Smith isn't as glorious in his deductions and Petrie's quicker on the uptake than Watson). In fact, at the beginning of the book there were one or two scenes in which a man had been found dead in a locked study with no clue of how it happened and I started thinking that maybe I'd already read this book!

Looking past the non-pc terms we are given a good action book that would do well for any of the more grown up 'Boys Own' reader and with the fast paced action and mysterious plot twists it does well to keep the reader enthralled.

Unfortunately this book is all about the action and we learn nothing about the characters involved. They all seem to be one-dimensional with no building of personalities beneath the obvious 'what you see is what you get' written on paper.

I enjoyed this book for what it was, a quick read for action and an attempt to cash in late on the Holmes style of plot. Don't expect your mind to be particularly stressed when reading this and put your modern day political correct thinking on the shelf and read this as an example of popular 'pulp book' fiction back in it's day. If you enjoy this then I have found out that it is only the first in a series. If you carry on with them then feel free to drop me a line and let me know how you found them!

1 comment:

kimba88 said...

This sounds interesting, but i like my characters to be well fleshed out. I love Holmes though. Thanks for sharing this one.