Blogging Sax Rohmer’s President Fu Manchu, Part One

Friday, June 28th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

President NewspaperPresident DoubledaySax Rohmer’s The Invisible President was originally serialized in Collier’s from February 29 to May 16, 1936. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US under the title President Fu Manchu. The novel is the first in the series to fictionalize real events with characters based on familiar figures in the US in the 1930s such as Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin. More than one critic has noted that the story may have influenced the classic Cold War conspiracy thriller The Manchurian Candidate.

The novel gets underway with Sir Denis Nayland Smith on special assignment with the FBI in a reworking of the Parson Dan episode from the very first Fu Manchu novel over twenty years before. Rohmer is much more comfortable with his second effort at a third person narrative for the series.

The early chapters do an admirable job of introducing Smith and his opposite number, FBI Agent Mark Hepburn, into the life of the highly controversial radio talk show host, Abbot Patrick Donegal. The celebrated Catholic priest had his manuscript on the foreign power threatening the USA stolen from his studio at the Tower of the Holy Thorn during his most recent broadcast. Abbot Donegal can recall nothing of the theft or even the contents of the manuscript he prepared.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, March 29th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Trail TitanTrail WingateSax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from April 28 to July 14, 1934. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book marked the first time Rohmer employed third person narrative in the series and dispensed with the first person narrative voice modeled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The results dilute what would otherwise have been a stronger novel that saw the series return to its roots.

The story picks up in the aftermath of the Limehouse explosion one week earlier. Surprisingly, Sam Pak’s opium den only sustained minor structural damage. No bodies have been recovered, nor did the police launch sight any boat escaping on the Thames prior to the explosion. Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Chief Inspector Gallaho are hopeful that Fu Manchu might actually be dead, but unless bodies are recovered, Smith does not feel secure.

The matron watching over Fleurette Petrie during her captivity abandoned her post the night of the explosion, as did the Asian sidewalk vendor who kept vigil outside Sir Denis’s apartment. Smith takes both signs as suggestive that Fu Manchu is still at liberty. Proof arrives soon enough in the form of the constable who had the misfortune of standing guard at Pietro Ambroso’s studio at the beginning of the book. The constable leads Smith and Gallaho to chat up a night watchman on his beat, suggesting the man might have information that he will not completely share with the police. Smith passes himself off as a newspaperman and gains the night watchman’s trust through his generous nature and gift of gab. The man tells him how one week earlier, on the night of the Limehouse explosion, he saw a small party of Chinamen emerge from a manhole on the deserted street in the dead of night. Smith agrees it is an interesting story and that the police would never have believed him.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu, Part Three

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Trail ConsulTrail Doubleday spineSax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from April 28 to July 14, 1934. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book marked the first time Rohmer employed third person narrative in the series and dispensed with the first person narrative voice modeled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The results dilute what would otherwise have been a stronger novel that saw the series return to its roots.

Chief Inspector Gallaho leads a police raid on Sam Pak’s opium den and begins the descent into the tunnel system below the Thames where Fu Manchu is transmuting base metal to gold in an alchemical process utilizing human bodies fed into a giant underground furnace. Alan Sterling has been sent to labor in the boiler room while Sir Denis Nayland Smith has been condemned to death alongside Fah lo Suee, Fu Manchu’s treacherous daughter. Sir Denis is puzzled why Fah lo Suee has forfeited her own life in a failed effort to save his own. He is startled when she confesses the reason is that she has loved him for many years as the man who did not fear to stand up to her father.

Sterling succumbs while working in the heat of the boiler room and awakens to find himself bound and sharing the same cell with Sir Denis and Fah lo Suee. Ali, Fu Manchu’s servant, who recognized Sterling and delivered his message to Sir Denis, is with them. They watch in horror as Fu Manchu orders Ali’s execution. He is first decapitated and then his body is thrown into the furnace.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu, Part Two

Friday, March 15th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Trail late PyramidThe Trail of Fu ManchuSax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from April 28 to July 14, 1934. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book marked the first time Rohmer employed third person narrative in the series and dispensed with the first person narrative voice modeled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The results dilute what would otherwise have been a stronger novel that saw the series return to its roots.

Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Alan Sterling, and Chief Inspector Gallaho follow Fah lo Suee from Sam Pak’s Limehouse opium den to the Ambassador’s Club, where the daughter of Fu Manchu has a rendezvous with Sir Bertram Morgan. The reader learns in short order that Fah lo Suee met Sir Bertram three years ago in Cairo and so has retained her old identity of Madame Ingomar. The old financier has fallen madly in love with the seductive Eurasian beauty. Sir Denis and company follow their car to Rowan House in Surrey, the former residence of Sir Lionel Barton, where Madame Ingomar’s father now resides. Once again, Rohmer refers back to the first book in the series, for it was at Rowan House where Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie first encountered Sir Lionel Barton.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu, Part One

Friday, March 8th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

Trail ColliersTrail frontispieceSax Rohmer’s The Trail of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from April 28 to July 14, 1934. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The book marked the first time Rohmer employed third person narrative in the series and dispensed with the first person narrative voice modeled on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The results dilute what would otherwise have been a stronger novel that saw the series return to its roots.

The book gets off to an atmospheric start on a foggy night in London, where a lone constable is standing guard outside Professor Pietro Ambroso’s art studio. He catches a glimpse of a shambling figure approaching the studio several times, but the crouching man eludes capture. A woman’s cries for help send the constable away from his post to investigate, but he finds no one. When he returns to his post, he finds the front door to Professor Ambroso’s studio open and upon investigating finds the studio deserted.

The scene shifts to Scotland Yard, where Sir Denis Nayland Smith is in conference with Chief Inspector Gallaho, who succeeded Inspector Weymouth after the latter became Police Superintendant in Cairo. The reader is somewhat surprised to learn that Professor Ambroso is also the focus of their concern. The Professor has attained fame as an artist and sculptor. His latest work is The Sleeping Venus, a stunningly beautiful porcelain nude. Ambroso had requested police protection upon his arrival in London.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, March 1st, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

1858522_320The Bride of Fu ManchuSax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 6 to July 8, 1933 under the variant title, Fu Manchu’s Bride. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The US edition retained the original magazine title until the 1960s when the UK book title was adopted for the paperback edition published by Pyramid Books.

Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Alan Sterling lead the police raid of Mahdi Bey’s Riviera estate. Moving deep below sea level in the underground catacombs, they find themselves cut off by steel doors which descend on both sides. Fearing for their lives and plunged in darkness, they are startled to hear the voice of Fu Manchu informing them he is leaving by submarine and that Dr. Petrie and Fleurette go with him. He explains he is sparing their lives only because Sir Denis and Sterling spared his when they both encountered him in his opium trance.

Smith and Sterling manage to climb through an opening in the catacombs and descend into the underground stream and swim across until they can climb the rocks leading to the beach at St. Claire. Sir Denis notes that Petrie could never have made the journey to the submarine in his weakened condition and sees evidence of oil trails that suggest that another party has left the beach via motorboat. The question remains where the motorboat will meet up with the submarine. Smith suspects their destination would be a yacht with which to transport the party to the rendezvous.

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Who is the Daughter of Fu Manchu?

Monday, February 25th, 2013 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

the-destiny-of-fu-manchu2The Destiny of Fu Manchu
By William Patrick Maynard
Black Coat Press (264 pages, $20.95 in trade paperback, April 2012)
A review by Joe Bonadonna

So who is the daughter of the infamous, the mysterious, the brilliant Fu Manchu? Is it the exquisite Koreani? The exotic Fah lo Suee? The lovely Helga Graumann? Who or what is the destiny of Fu Manchu? And who is “Khunum-Khufu,” and why is he in control of the Si-Fan?

The clues are there, the disguises are many, and the deception is all part of the fun in William Patrick Maynard’s sequel to his wonderful, The Terror of Fu Manchu.

I’ve become a fan of Maynard’s Fu Manchu. More importantly, I’m a fan of William Patrick Maynard. (His short story, “Tulsa Blackie’s Last Dive,” is one of the highlights of The Ruby Files, published by Airship27 Productions.) Now, in The Destiny of Fu Manchu, Bill picks up the story years after the events of his first novel, and this time he ups the ante in a tale that is far more complex and insidious than the good doctor’s previous adventure. I’ll do my best to give you a rundown without, hopefully, spoiling any of the fun.

The story opens with a prologue written by good old Petrie himself, the hero/narrator of the aforementioned The Terror of Fu Manchu. This time, however, Petrie has been abducted by Khunum-Khufu and a new faction of the Si-Fan, which plays back to the theft of the Seal of Solomon and the events related in the previous novel.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu, Part Three

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

51rhbeFgQTL__SL500_AA300_b70-968Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 6 to July 8, 1933 under the variant title, Fu Manchu’s Bride. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The US edition retained the original magazine title until the 1960s when the UK book title was adopted for the paperback edition published by Pyramid Books.

Our narrator and hero, botanist Alan Sterling has found himself a Companion of the Si-Fan along with numerous other scientific geniuses conscripted into their service after falling victim to the catalepsy-inducing drug that leads the outside world to believe them dead. Fah lo Suee, the daughter of Fu Manchu, has conspired to prevent Sterling from being subjected to her father’s mind control drug in order to use him as a pawn to remove Fleurette, raised since childhood to bear Fu Manchu a son, from the household.

Attempting to escape, Sterling stumbles upon Fu Manchu in an opium trance. He considers murdering him to avenge Dr. Petrie’s death, but finds he is unable to lift a hand against him for some unknown reason. Retracing his steps, Sterling works to find an escape route through the elaborate cave system that leads from Mahdi Bey’s estate down to the beach at Ste. Claire. Rohmer builds suspense well as Sterling’s path through the dark is made more dramatic as he becomes aware someone is stalking him. Both Sterling and the reader are startled to learn the pursuer is none other than Nayland Smith.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu, Part Two

Friday, February 15th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

$(KGrHqJ,!p!E9dR9SnnCBPebmY)fDQ~~60_35The Bride of Fu ManchuSax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 6 to July 8, 1933 under the variant title, Fu Manchu’s Bride. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The US edition retained the original magazine title until the 1960s, when the UK book title was adopted for the paperback edition published by Pyramid Books.

After Alan Sterling recovers consciousness, Sir Denis insists he dine out that evening in Monte Carlo to take his mind off the terrible situation with Dr. Petrie. Complying with his wishes, Alan drives to Monaco and spends some time at a casino trying to apply Petrie’s (really Rohmer’s) complicated system to break the bank, to no avail. While dining that night, he is startled to spy Fleurette at another table dining with a Russian nobleman and Mahdi Bey.

Observing them in public, Sterling convinces himself that Fleurette must be Mahdi Bey’s mistress. This devastates him as he has idealized her as his virginal dream girl since first glimpsing her on the beach at Ste. Claire. Sterling’s reverie is broken when he spies the Chinese agents of Dr. Fu Manchu in the restaurant. He then hears the mysterious sonic trumpet sound once more. He doesn’t understand the connection, but he is now certain that Mahdi Bey is somehow mixed up in the dangerous business and Fleurette with him.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu, Part One

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

bride-fu-manchu-sax-rhomerBride of Fu Manchu2Sax Rohmer’s The Bride of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 6 to July 8, 1933 under the variant title, Fu Manchu’s Bride. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. The US edition retained the original magazine title until the 1960s, when the UK book title was adopted for the paperback edition published by Pyramid Books. Under any title, it is without a doubt the finest book of the series in terms of prose and plotting.

The Bride of Fu Manchu introduces readers to a new narrator/hero in the form of the young botanist, Dr. Alan Sterling. As the book opens, Sterling is in France along with Dr. Petrie. They have both been called in to investigate a strange new epidemic that has stricken the Riviera.

Sterling comes ashore on Ste. Claire and discovers a beautiful girl on an otherwise deserted beach. The introductory scene is a long and evocative one and will be instantly familiar to James Bond fans as a clear influence on Ian Fleming. The girl is called Fleurette and likens herself to the goddess, Derceto. She is the property of the mysterious Mahdi Bey, who owns the great house on Ste. Claire. A strange sonic trumpet sounds and Fleurette rushes back to her master’s home, leaving Sterling both smitten and frustrated by their brief but tantalizing encounter.

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