The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu (1913) is the first novel in the Dr. Fu Manchu (sometimes “Fu-Manchu”) series by Sax Rohmer.
Fu Manchu is pursued from the opium dens of Limehouse in the East End of London to various country estates. We learn that Dr Fu Manchu is a leading member not of “old China”, the Mandarin class of the Manchu dynasty, or “young China”, a new generation of “youthful and unbalanced reformers” with “western polish” – but a “Third Party”. Nayland Smith is outwitted several times by Fu Manchu, and thus he reflects more the narrow escapes of the later Bulldog Drummond rather than the “logical” superior approach of the earlier Sherlock Holmes.
Fu Manchu is a master poisoner and chemist, a cunning member of the Yellow Peril, “the greatest genius which the powers of evil have put on the earth for centuries”, though his mission is not exactly clear at this stage. He appears to be trying to capture and take back to China the best engineers of Europe, for some larger criminal purpose.
By the end of the book, Fu Manchu’s slave Karamaneh, a beautiful Arab woman, apparently now in love with Dr Petrie, and her brother Aziz, are freed, and Inspector Weymouth, driven mad by an injection of serum from Fu Manchu, is restored to sanity by Fu Manchu, who appears to have escaped from a fire which destroys the house he had previously entered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
After penning Little Tich in 1911 (as ghostwriter for the famous music hall entertainer of the same name: Little Tich) he issued the first Fu Manchu novel, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, serialized from October 1912 to June 1913. It was an immediate success, with its fast-paced story of Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie facing the worldwide conspiracy of the “Yellow Peril.” The Fu Manchu stories, together with his more conventional detective series characters—Paul Harley, Gaston Max, Red Kerry, Morris Klaw (an occult detective), and The Crime Magnet—made Rohmer one of the most successful and well-paid authors of the 1920s and 1930s.
The first three Fu Manchu books were published in the four years 1913–1917; but it was not until 1931 (some fourteen years after the third book in the series) that Rohmer returned to the series with Daughter of Fu Manchu.