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

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  1,113 Ratings  ·  183 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
Oct 22, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are unaware of the threat posed by cunning, diabolical Chinamen
"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 hyperbole is that you have to back it up. Conan Doyle is great at this. There's this fine line: you want to leave the reader unable, usually, to solve the mystery, but when you do the big reveal at the end yo
Aug 17, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

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
Mar 06, 2014 Nawfal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pyramid
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
Nov 11, 2014 CAW rated it liked it
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
K.T. Katzmann
Jun 02, 2016 K.T. Katzmann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Who Love Villains or Hate the Chinese
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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, informing Knock-Off of Doctor Watson (henceforth KODW) of the threat of . . .

Well, he doesn't really say, honestly. KOSH just pulls KODW through an entire adventure, occasionally mentioning someone named Fu Man
Dec 29, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
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
Arun Divakar
The two British protagonists of this book are extreme racists. Speaking through the mouths of these two, the author employs almost every possible racial slur against the Chinese. Anything remotely related to China or Asia are right away branded as evil and objects of suspicion.

That’s the most in-your-face fact about the story of Dr. Fu Manchu. Any thought about this book from me could not proceed unless I had put these into words out here. Sax Rohmer’s story is a celebration of villainy with th
The Haunted Reading Room 2017 - Year of Lovecraft
Mar 03, 2012 The Haunted Reading Room 2017 - Year of Lovecraft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction, mystery/thriller, horror
Recommended to The Haunted Reading Room 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
Sep 02, 2015 Leothefox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 reading this because it's in fact a grand fantasy, a work of high imagination. This book's loaded with opium dens, clever executions, disguises, chases, and even finds time for a romance.

I can't resist this
Jun 04, 2012 Damond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jack Massa
Jun 23, 2011 Jack Massa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
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
Aug 23, 2011 Sandy rated it really liked it
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
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
Marts  (Thinker)
Mar 11, 2013 Marts (Thinker) rated it it was amazing
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...
Jul 16, 2012 Rozzer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: britain, reviewed, fiction
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
I just had me a nice little dose of déjà vu. Earlier this year I read Sax Rohmer's The Golden Scorpion. And now I have finished The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu. And it was like reading the same pulpy, cliff-hanger, Yellow Peril story all over again. Evil, all-powerful, Chinese master criminal bent on world conquest with ominous green eyes? Check. Leaving behind a trail of murdered experts in their field? Check. Beautiful, mysterious, woman who is strangely enslaved to the evil master criminal, but w ...more
Oct 04, 2008 Scott rated it it was ok
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
Oct 13, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily Chen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Put simply, this is a fun book. Racing through the foggy streets of London, plots against Queen and country, exotic poisons and one of the greatest villains ever created. The downsides are obvious - Rohmer veers towards the melodramatic, the protagonists are basically stolen from Sherlock Holmes, the views on the Chinese are not politically correct and there is nothing truly deep. The upsides make it worth a visit, even if it isn't worthy of deep literary analysis.
Douglas Lord
Nov 29, 2015 Douglas Lord rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This here is some crazy bookage. Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu mysteries are even older than Agatha Christie—so old that this first in a series of 13 was written as a serial for newspapers about 100 years ago. In classic pulp akin to (and reductive of) Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Rohmer’s Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie are London-based heroes facing off against one of the first supervillains—Dr. Fu-Manchu, leader of the worldwide conspiracy called the “Yellow Peril.” In this story, Fu ...more
This is Sax Rohmer's first book featuring the nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu, evil genius and threat to the West. The book was originally published as a series of tales in various magazines in the early 1900's. In 1913, it was published in its current form. The story is fast paced and often somewhat hurky-jerky. It follows Dennis Smith and his friend, Dr. Petrie as the track Fu-Manchu around London trying to stop Fu-Manchu as he tries to kill or kidnap important British scientists and engineers or thei ...more
William Stafford
I have no qualms about the baddie being Chinese - there's good and bad in every race but what I find objectionable in this book, first published in 1913, are the blatantly racist remarks about 'the yellow race', 'the yellow peril' and the supposed superiority of 'the white race'. I know people thought differently back then so I take it with a pinch of soy sauce and try not to let it mar my enjoyment of the adventure.

There is mystery and action aplenty as proto-James Bond Nayland Smith and his si
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
Jun 11, 2015 S J added it
Ahh, the Chinee. So inscrutable; so very insidious.

Make no mistake, dear reader: this is no Holmes "rip-off". No, sir - this is a devastatingly brilliant tale of suspense, intrigue and cunning as original as the author's name.

You will be spellbound! Captivated by the diabolical wickedness of the eponymous villain as he personifies the Yellow Peril that we now see emerging clearly today. Never again will you nod approvingly at a Calisthenics group in your local park. Harmless? Peaceful folk on a
Apr 06, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
I've heard of Dr Fu Manch because of the old movies, so when I found this book whilst looking for works published in 1913, it appealed to me, and it didn't let me down, as it was great fun....if rather politically incorrect!
It has shades of Sherlock Holmes....incredibly brave and clever hero, with equally brave sidekick....but I like these wonderfully old fashioned books, and will most probably read the next in the series.
Derek Davis
Oct 02, 2010 Derek Davis rated it really liked it
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.
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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

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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.” 2 likes
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