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The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu (Fu Manchu #1)

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  803 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Being a Somewhat Detailed Account of the Amazing Adventures of Nayland Smith in His Trailing of the Sinister Chinaman

The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu is the first title in the famous series of "Yellow Peril" novels published by English writer Sax Rohmer, aka Henry Sarsfield Ward (1883–1959), between 1913 and 1959. The novel, like its many sequels, pits the "evil genius" of the
Paperback, 232 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by New Millennium Library (first published 1913)
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Bill  Kerwin

I like this book, but I feel 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 cunning of The Inscrutable East, but it is much worse when the hero is repeatedly described as the "savior of the white race."

To appreciate the book as I do--even if you feel guilty about it--it is helpful to rea
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are unaware of the threat posed by cunning, diabolical Chinamen
Well, okay, this's entertaining, okay? I had fun. It's a pretty shameless Sherlock Holmes ripoff, with a doctor sidekick narrating an adventure in which the protagonist is his brilliant detectiveish friend. Moriarty is Asianified, but comes with the same breathless, constant hyperbolic descriptions: "The most brilliant criminal mind to have existed in generations!"

The problem with hyperbole is that you kinda have to back it up. Conan Doyle is great at this. There's this fine line you wan

The review from afar – No. 9

Re-revised forward to these overseas reviews:
As I emulate a yo-yo, I continue to rely on an old-style Kindle 3G for any non-technical reading. I tip my hat to the fine folks at Project Gutenberg: virtually every title I have or will be reading in the near future comes from them.

The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu (American title, in England, The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu) begins the most famous series created by the prolific Sax Rohmer (nee’ Arthur Henry Ward). Rohmer was a ta
MB Taylor
I finished reading The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu last Friday on the way home from work. It’s the first book I read on my Nook; I downloaded it for free from I think I first read the Fu Manchu series sometime in the mid-seventies (or at least first eight). Of course I bought them all, and the remaining six are sitting unread on a shelf (or in a box) someplace.

First, about the edition: According to the text in the book Google scanned a hard copy from some library, converted to text using
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 a mysterious, exotic villain. The main characters are constantly failing on this adventurous chase to arrest Dr. Fu Manchu, but they do hustle the reader along in non-stop exploits of hasty detective wor ...more
THE INSIDIOUS DR. FU-MANCHU. (1913). Sax Rohmer. ****.
The four-star rating is just a way of sneakingly make you want to give this novel a try. It is important in the development of the mystery/thriller genres. If you do read it, you might even be tempted to watch some of the mediocre films adapted from the books. So...Sax Rohmer (1883-1959) was an English writer who wrote in a variety of genres, but is mostly remembered for his Fu Manchu books. His real name was Arthur Henry Saxfield Ward, a na
Episodic and moderately entertaining yarn (or yarns) pitting Edwardian British Government agent Nayland Smith and his cohort, friend and narrator, Dr. Petrie, against the master criminal "yellow peril personified" Dr. Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu himself is the most interesting character, and his varied and ingenious ways of facilitating murder in inaccessible locales and locked rooms the most entertaining tropes. It was also amusing to read a thriller actually written in this era (circa 1913) depicting ...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 to Awesome again'.

As I read it, this is the story about a secret agent/mad scientist of slightly-above average intelligence and the two bungling detectives who try to foil him. Indeed, Agent Smith and D
Marts  (Thinker)
Nayland Smith arrives unannounced from Burma at the house of his friend Dr. Petrie; follow them through their daring adventures as Smith attempts to capture the evil genius and murderer, Dr. Fu-Manchu...
Nayland Smith, freshly arrived from Burma, draws his friend Dr Petrie into a series of adventures as they try to forestall the plans of the criminal mastermind and murderer, Dr Fu Manchu. His henchmen are armed to the teeth with knives and guns, but Dr Fu Manchu disguises his crimes by killing his victims in cunning and mysterious ways. There's a lot less ratiocination in this book than in the Sherlock Holmes stories, and Smith and Petrie are no real match for the evil Doctor, although they slow ...more
This book is a collection of short detective stories involving the villain Fu Manchu. I find it interesting that the name of the villain is well know and not the name of the detective in the series.

There is a reason for that though. Sax Rohmer certainly tried to follow the Conan Doyle mode with a brilliant deductive detective, physician assistant and brilliant adversary such as Moriarity Sax Rohmer just doesn't have the skill to pull it off. The author is really quite good at inventive plots and
For every single work of lasting literary value (in anyone's eyes) there must be at least a thousand volumes of easier material not requiring so much work on the part of the reader. Which is by no means to say that such "easier material" does not from time to time throw up its own classics read again and again by all subsequent generations. But the vast majority of such (what can I say?) playground lit, literary fast food, undemanding eye fodder pretty much dies after a generation or so, after h ...more
Oct 04, 2008 Scott rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sinophobes, pulp fiction junkies
Shelves: edwardian, crime, 1910s, london
Homicidal fungus, scent-seeking noxious centipedes, dacoits in the eaves, thugs, trap doors, sarcophagi exhaling fatal fumes, and a whole pharmacopoeia of deadly draughts and decoctions are the lethal tools of Dr. Fu-Manchu's insidious trade. His goal – nothing less than the complete subjugation of the white race!

Sax Rohmer's pulp fiction thriller The Insidious Dr.-Fu Manchu (1913) is an imperialist's nightmare: the hordes of the East seek to reverse centuries of malign Western exploitation. The
Mallory Heart Reviews
Mar 03, 2012 Mallory Heart Reviews rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction, mystery/thriller, horror
Recommended to Mallory Heart by: Hearts On Fire Reviews
Shelves: march-2012-reads
Sax Rohmer has been called “the true king of the pulp mystery” (James Rollins) and in my personal view, Rohmer is pulp’s crowning achievement (and achiever). As a child in the 1950’s and 60’s, I loved his Fu-Manchu mysteries, and I love them still on rereading after many decades. They seem fresh and new, and still gloriously written, plotted, and characterized. Titan Books has done the literate world the enormous favour of reprinting Rohmer’s series, with two currently available and many more t ...more
I thoroughly enjoy reading older novels like this. They are not only entertaining, but I consider them to be fascinating records of their time. You really get to see how things have changed over time, not only with how words are spoken, but what more insensitive words and phrases were used as appropriate back then. This is especially true in a book like this, written and set in London in 1913 and deals with a villain from a foreign land like China. Words like "Chinaman," "Oriental" and "Yellow M ...more
It's amazing how much action Sax Rohmer crams into this short, 192-page book. In it, Commissioner Nayland Smith and his cohort, Dr. Petrie, travel around London trying to rescue various chaps from murder, kidnapping, memory loss and assorted attacks perpetrated by the evil Chinese mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu. The pace of the book is quite breathless, and before all is said and done, we have dealt with poisonous centipedes, opium dens, trapdoors, memory drugs, mummies, poison gas, thugees and dacoi ...more
The Murderist
The Good: Fu Manchu is a fantastic villain; every moment he is onstage is a delight. Rohmer's complete ignorance of Asia and its people make for some hilarious (albeit racist) characterizations.

The Bad: The book is obviously an assemblage of short stories; this leads to poor narrative flow and repetitious exposition. There is little "mystery" to the proceedings as most of Fu Manchu's exotic threats are imaginary. The heroes are uniformly bland.

The Ugly: The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu is rife with
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I know that these are supposed to be terribly politically incorrect, and there is a fair bit of racial typing happening here, but Fu Manchu is a brilliant fictional creation. Rohmer's prose is vivid and his sense of pacing is excellent, as is his flair for the weird. There are moments of pure horror on display here, as well as sequences of action that left me feeling as winded as if I were actually there. That's good thriller writing, and Rohmer's novels deserve to be remembered for their contin ...more
Orson Baz
You know the petrifying fear which penetrates one's being when envisioning the success of anyone other than a white man? The sheer terror that takes hold of one's senses when confronted with the possibility of a non racially-homogeneous society? The "Yellow Peril", so to speak?

Well, prepare to meet the man who has what it takes to take down the whole of Western Civilization! "He has the brains of any three men of genius. He is a mental giant."! It's Doctor Fu Manchu, of course! "He is a linguis
Futaba Shioda
“Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government –which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have ...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu is the first in a series of books featuring the Chinese villain. Narrated by Dr.Petrie, a Watson to the series' Holmes, Nayland Smith, it introduces this man who is the personification of the threat to (the British) Empire and the white race.

The appeal of the novel and series lies in the terrible Fu-Manchu:

Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the
Super entertaining and super-racist. I think it's funny when readers of pulp talk about H.P. Lovecraft's racist subtext when this book exists. There's also a great part where Fu-Manchu kills a bunch of cops by turning them into mushroom things.
Derek Davis
Who doesn't like Fu Manchu? The Yellow Menace, the view of the Orient as a pit of evil despond? It doesn't matter that this, today, is so politically incorrect that it would give liberals the heaves. I'm liberal myself, and I love it.
Bill FromPA
This is an omnibus review of the first three Fu Manchu novels, The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu, The Return of Dr Fu Manchu, and The Hand of Fu Manchu.

I have had a certain fascination with Fu Manchu since the mid 60s when I first saw the Pyramid paperback reprints with their circular cover illustrations featuring a medley of luridly painted scenes of violence, square-jawed heroes, and beautiful women, all beneath the gaze of the titular villain, whose demonic countenance floated at the top of the pict
Neil Davies
An enjoyable romp, although less a coherent storyline than a series of adventurous episodes. You need to leave your political correctness and non-racist sensibilities behind to read it comfortably, but if you can do that and accept that the political views and racist language were signs of the time it was written in rather than any unusually bigoted viewpoint of the author then you can enjoy the adventure. Speaking personally, and as someone who had read quite a bit of late 1800s - early 1900s f ...more
James Elkins
I am not unfamiliar with the idea of taking the period, in which a book was written, into account when reading a book. This is actually a concept I am quite familiar with, and often chastise others for not applying the idea to their critcism. The Shadow, Doc Savage, the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are all steeped in the culture of their day, as is The Mystery of Fu-Manchu. This is part of what gives the other works their charm, indeed there are parts of this book whi ...more
Victor Gentile
Sax Rohmer in his book, “The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu” Book One in the Dr. Fu-Manchu series published by Titan Books introduces us to Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie and, of course, the evil Dr. Fu-Manchu.

From the Back Cover: “Imagine a person, tall, lean, and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan…”

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 wo
I spent yesterday reading Bill's copy of The insidious Dr Fu Manchu which was very silly, action packed and despite being labeled as "complete and unabridged" on the cover wasn't! I got suspicious when the girl showed up and said it was the third time meeting them, when she'd only appeared once before, and then there was a lot jumping around that seemed to be at odds with the text. (I couldn't quite belive it was written so poorly). A quick search of gutenberg and other texts reveals that it was ...more
Zohar -
The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer is a novel which first introduced the famous villain. The novel was first published in 1913.

Dr. John Petrie, a physician and our narrator, meets his friend Denis Nayland Smith who served as British police commissioner in Asia. Smith seems to know all things Asia and the innate ability to get all the support he needs from British government officials. Petrie is, of course, knowledgeable in medicine, forensics, chemistry and an ace with a pistol – for good
The first of a 13-volume series by Sax Rohmer, this is one of the most racist books I have ever read. Asians or Asia are never mentioned without a racist or pejorative adjective. An Amazon reviewer says of the Fu-Manchu series: "thematically, Rohmer serves as a literary bridge between Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and Ian Fleming's James Bond." Complete with a doctor sidekick to chronicle the adventures, Rohmer tells the tale of Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. John Petrie as they struggle to ...more
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AKA Arthur Sarsfield Ward (real name); Michael Furey.

Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (15 February 1883 - 1 June 1959), better known as Sax Rohmer, was a prolific English novelist. He is best remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu.

Born in Birmingham to a working class family, Rohmer initially pursued a career as a civil servant before concentrating on writing fu
More about Sax Rohmer...

Other Books in the Series

Fu Manchu (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • Tales of Chinatown
  • The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu
  • The Hand of Fu-Manchu
  • Daughter of Fu Manchu
  • The Mask of Fu Manchu
  • The Bride of Fu Manchu
  • The Trail of Fu Manchu
  • President Fu Manchu
  • The Drums of Fu Manchu
  • The Island of Fu Manchu
The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu Brood of the Witch-Queen The Hand of Fu-Manchu The Mask of Fu Manchu Daughter of Fu Manchu

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“How strangely does the adventurous intrude upon the humdrum; for, when it intrudes at all, more often than not its intrusion is sudden and unlooked for. To-day, we may seek for romance and fail to find it: unsought, it lies in wait for us at most prosaic corners of life's highway.” 0 likes
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