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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New Treasures: The Hand of Fu Manchu, by Sax Rohmer

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-hand-of-fu-manchu-smallWilliam Patrick Maynard, Black Gate‘s resident Sax Rohmer expert, wrote an excellent 9-part series on The Hand of Fu Manchu, starting last November. It piqued my curiosity towards Rohmer, and The Hand of Fu Manchu in particular, and I vowed I would spend some quality time with both.

You’ll note it’s now October. Maybe I don’t always do it quickly, but I do keep my promises. This one was made even easier by the arrival of the gorgeous reprint edition of Rohmer’s third Fu-Manchu novel from Titan Books.

London, 1913. The era of Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and the Invisible Man. A time of shadows, secret societies, and dens filled with opium addicts. Into this world comes the most fantastic emissary of evil society has ever known… Fu-Manchu.

A sealed box and murder most foul call Nayland Smith and Dr Petrie back from distant Egypt to the fog-enshrouded streets of London. There they discover that Dr. Fu-Manchu is an agent of a vast and deadly organization — one which will stop at nothing to achieve its ruthless goals.

The Hand of Fu Manchu was originally published in 1917 (the UK title was The Si-Fan Mysteries). There have been numerous paperback reprints over the last century, but few of this level of quality. These Titan editions are handsome and very affordable, in oversize trade paperback format; this one includes an afterword by Leslie S. Klinger, an abbreviated version of his essay from The Mystery of Fu-Manchu.

The Hand of Fu Manchu was published by Titan Books in May 2012. It is 266 pages, and priced at $9.95 for the print version and $7.99 for the digital edition. Read more at the Titan Books website.


Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Four

Friday, October 5th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

2203781the-mask-of-fu-manchuSax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy that made it into theaters later that same year.

The fourth and final part of the book opens with the voyage from Cairo to London. The Marconi operator brings Shan Greville a telegram from Sir Denis Nayland Smith of British Intelligence, warning him that agents of Dr. Fu Manchu will attempt to capture the relics of El Mokanna that Sir Lionel Barton unearthed during his recent expedition in Persia. The irascible parliamentary minister who argued with Sir Lionel before boarding the ship turns out to be the agent of the Si-Fan who breaks into the purser’s safe overnight and absconds with the box he believes contains the priceless relics. He is rescued at sea by a plane which takes him and the contents of the box (concealed inside an inflatable rubber ball) aboard and disappears into the night.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Three

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

251054_1020_afu-manchu-dsd-mask-mask-giveawaySax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy that made it into theaters later that same year.

The third part of the book sees Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, Sir Lionel Barton, and Shan Greville make their way to the Great Pyramid where Sir Lionel will hand over the relics of El Mokanna to Dr. Fu Manchu in exchange for the release of his niece, Rima, who is being held hostage. Sixty Egyptian police officers are employed to surround the Great Pyramid in an effort to bring Fu Manchu to justice and to aid the others in the event they are walking into a trap. Sir Denis insists that Petrie and Barton stay behind while he and Greville make their way to the King’s Chamber, the arranged meeting place.

Rohmer wrings every last bit of suspense from Smith and Greville’s descent into the King’s Chamber. Having actually made the journey himself prior to writing the book enabled him to perfectly capture the claustrophobic anxiety of his heroes’ predicament. Upon arriving in the King’s Chamber, they find Dr. Fu Manchu awaiting them. The fact that he handles the matter in person without any bodyguards emphasizes the new strength and confidence with which Rohmer has imbued the character now that he has at last perfected the elixir vitae.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Two

Friday, September 21st, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

mask-of-fu-manchu1roh_fu5_djSax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version, starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy, that made it into theaters later that same year.

The second part of the book sees Sir Denis Nayland Smith of British Intelligence, the renowned archaeologist Sir Lionel Barton, his foreman (and the book’s narrator) Shan Greville, and the expedition’s photographer Rima Barton (Sir Lionel’s niece and Shan’s fiancée) make their way from Ispahan to Cairo, where they are reunited with Dr. Petrie, Sir Denis’s oldest friend (and the narrator of the first three books in the series). Believing that Dr. Fu Manchu is behind the El Mokanna uprising that has already spread to Egypt, Petrie is relieved that his wife is safely visiting her in-laws in Surrey at present and out of harm’s way.

While Petrie drives the group into town, an incident occurs where it appears Petrie has struck a pedestrian. An angry mob, resentful of the British colonialists, soon gathers. While Petrie examines the victim and concludes the man had been dead three hours before his corpse was pushed in front of Petrie’s car, Sir Lionel is nearly abducted. The aim of the accident was to get at the large trunk he carries with him, containing the relics of El Mokanna’s tomb from his recent excavation in Persia. The timely arrival of the colonial police is all that saves them from the enraged mob.

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