Saturday, May 21, 2016

Re-enter Fu Manchu, by Sax Rohmer: A Review

Re-enter Fu Manchu is the twelfth book in the series of thirteen adventures Sax Rohmer wrote about his best literary creation, the diabolical Dr. 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 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 a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."
Written in 1957, the story follows the eleventh book in the series written in 1948: The Shadow of Fu Manchu. The evil doctor has been believed dead since the adventures in the last book, but Dr. Fu Manchu is very much alive and very much still involved in world conquest. Now the unquestioned leader of the Sai Fan, a secret order that he once worked for, Dr. Fu Manchu has kidnapped his old nemesis, Denis Nayland Smith, and using plastic surgery has created an almost perfect imposter. Next, the doctor hires under false pretenses, one Brian Merrick, a young man who is also the son of a U.S. Senator. He ships him off to Cairo to meet the fake Nayland Smith and then jets them both to New York where the real action takes place.

By the time Rohmer released this book, he had been aggressively writing novels, stories, and nonfiction for nigh on five decades. The writing in Re-enter Fu Manchu is very polished and very professional, but the plot line drags along slowly as we watch Brian struggle with his doubts and trying to discover who he can and cannot trust. It is not until the last few chapters we learn exactly what Fu Manchu is trying to do, the reasons behind hiring Merrick, and the final interaction between Fu Manchu and the real Sir Nayland Smith.

Compared to the other books in the series, there is very little action to speak of and I confess that in the first two thirds of the book, I was wondering if Rohmer had simply become bored with his creation.

Out of the original twelve novels, Rohmer wrote in the Fu Manchu universe, I presently own eight and I will continue to haunt used book stores until all twelve are mine.

On August 5th, 2010, I began keeping record of the books that I have read. Re-Enter Fu Manchu is book #229.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine anyone would get tired of writing the same character for fifty years.

    Which four of the Fu-Manchu novels don't you have?