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The Yellow Claw (Gaston Max #1)

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The elusive Oriental villain known as Mr. King masterminds an insidious plot to hold London's wealthy at his mercy.

His henchmen have already killed one socialite, and more are threatened. Hot on the trail are two of Sax Rohmer's greatest detectives, Gaston Max and Inspector Dunbar, as they undertake a case that threatens to destroy the cream of British society.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published May 24th 2002 by Borgo Press (first published 1915)
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The review from afar – No. 28

2015 forward to these overseas reviews:
Thanks to Project Gutenberg for supplying me with books for an old Kindle 3G.

The Yellow Claw is a crime novel written by the prolific Sax Rohmer. While it does involve some sensationalist elements and there is a strong Yellow Peril theme to the book, it is a much more normal whodunit/mystery novel than any of the Fu Manchu books. That is mostly due to the personalities and actions of the two main detectives: Inspector Dunbar of
Mar 09, 2015 Col rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015, r

Then--his brows drawn together--he stooped to the body of the murdered woman. Partially raising the fur cloak, he suppressed a gasp of astonishment. "Why! she only wears a silk night-dress, and a pair of suede slippers!"

The elusive Oriental villain known as Mr. King masterminds an insidious plot to hold London's wealthy at his mercy.

His henchmen have already killed one socialite, and more are threatened. Hot on the trail are two of Sax Rohmer's greatest detectives, Gaston Max and
A typical Edwardian melodrama in which Gaston Max and Inspector Dunbar go underground to the opium dens of London to discover the secrets of Ho-Pin, he of the yellow claw, and how he is affecting the London hob nobs and how he inveigles them and others into his net.

In a very Gothic setting at times, although the above ground London scenes are admirably described, Max and Dunbar encounter all sorts of problems before they finally sort things out.
This novel has an antiquarian almost "penny dreadful" feel about it. Gaston Max is a renowned French detective who has come to London on the trail of a Chinese syndicate who are setting up opium dens around the world. They have snared would be socialites and people who have acquired the opium habit while on diplomatic service in China. The French Surete has established that a considerable sum of money has come into the Paris opium den through a bank cheque drawn on the account of Henry Leroux, i ...more
If you're interested in pulp fiction (not the movie, but the actual, um, fiction), this is probably of decent historical interest, as it's got mysterious underground chambers, opium addicts, and a French detective who seems like a clear model for Hercule Poirot (whom I know was Beligan), though Gaston Max is much more two-fisted.

Having said that, it's not a decent enough mystery adventure to outweigh the really amazing racism and sexism that are in this book's DNA. It's really fundamentally abou
First, if you have never read Sax Rohmer before, DO NOT start with this one. Start with Rohmer's "The Green Eyes of Bâst" or "The Golden Scorpion" (free for Kindles). Although "The Yellow Claw" does have some interesting plot ideas, it does drag in spots; however, it makes up for it in the last third of the book. So, read this one (which has Rohmer's French detective, Gaston Max) later. Rohmer is most famous for creating the infamous character of Fu Manchu who later became even more famous in th ...more
Longer and slower than most of Rohmer's works, this is still a gripping yarn of London's Chinatown and opium dens. Much of the first half of the book follows one of master-criminal "Mr. King's" minions and gives more of a look at the inside workings of the criminal organisation than you would expect from Rohmer. Master detective Gaston Max only appears in he second half of the book which is more typically Rohmer-esque. "Mr. King" is well handled and kept at arms length which works very well, the ...more
Like most of Rohmer's pulp novels from this time, the villains are of Asian decent and peddle the ever dangerous opium! The ending is rather abrupt, with no firm resolution for the characters, although most everything is wrapped up. The pacing is good until the end, which again, is a bit too abrupt. The main character is an amusing man, but he doesn't work as well alone as some of Rohmer's other detective/doctor duos. A decent enough read, but nothing spectacular.
I gave this book only 1 star because of its blatant Eurocentrism, racism and lack of a meaningful story. Rohmer has done better in other tales; this is definitely one of his weaker efforts. The characters fall flat, the plot barely bends (much less twists) and, while The Quest for the Sacred Slipper leaned towards early 20th century views, this book reflected them like a mirror, to our collective detriment. It was very disappointing to have nothing magical, supernatural or even all that mysterio ...more
David Johnston
Conceded that Gaston Max is not the bumbler that Nayland Smith is. But on the other hand this book doesn't have any of the hilariously inefficient methods for killing that make Fu Manchu entertaining. The result is a rather dull and predictable narrative based on nothing but the hope that we will be shocked, shocked by the idea that there could be a rather nice establishment run by Chinese mobsters providing opiates to rather posh self-destructive clients in London.
Interesting (free download to my Kindle) murder mystery that leaves one question unanswered -- the story is about the use of opium in London. It was a terrible scourge, and this story has the Chinese as the villains. I liked it but I'm not sure I'd read it again. I don't know when it was published but the author died in 1959.
Andrew Salmon
A little slow going although it was interesting to read a novel where the main character takes so long to make an entrance. One he does, however, the story picks up. As Rohmer fan, I enjoyed this one but others new to the author might want to start with his Fu Manchu novels.
Mike Mikos
Early YELLOW PERIL story. Written before first Fu Manchu story, contains Fu Manchu prototype. Concerns opium use among upper class London women. If you like Rohmer, you will like this adventure.
Murder mystery of it's time with evil stereotypical Chinese-run opium dens in Limehouse.
Neil Davies
A genuine page turner. You had to find out what was going to happen next.
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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

Gaston Max (4 books)
  • The Golden Scorpion
  • The Day the World Ended
  • Seven Sins
The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu Brood of the Witch-Queen The Hand of Fu-Manchu The Mask of Fu Manchu

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