The Return

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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohme

“The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu”

is a novel by British author Sax Rohmer, first published in 1916. It is the second book in the Fu-Manchu series, following “The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu.” The novel continues the story of Dr. Fu-Manchu, a Chinese mastermind and criminal mastermind, and his nemesis, Nayland Smith, a British detective.

The story begins with Nayland Smith receiving a visit from Dr. Petrie, a friend and colleague who had previously assisted him in the case against Dr. Fu-Manchu. Petrie tells Smith that he has seen Fu-Manchu alive and well in Egypt, and he fears that the villain has returned to England with a new plan to unleash terror on the world.

Smith and Petrie begin to investigate, but they soon find themselves in grave danger. They are attacked by Fu-Manchu’s henchmen and narrowly escape with their lives. Despite the danger, they press on with their investigation, which takes them to Paris, where they meet a beautiful woman named Karamaneh. Karamaneh had previously worked as a slave to Fu-Manchu, but now she claims to want to help Smith and Petrie bring him to justice.

With Karamaneh’s help, Smith and Petrie are able to infiltrate Fu-Manchu’s organization and learn more about his plans. They discover that he has developed a new deadly poison, which he plans to unleash on London in an attempt to bring the city to its knees. Smith and Petrie must race against time to stop Fu-Manchu and his nefarious plan.

As the story unfolds, Rohmer paints a vivid picture of the exotic and dangerous world of Fu-Manchu, filled with opium dens, underground tunnels, and secret societies. He also explores themes of racism and cultural stereotypes, as Fu-Manchu is portrayed as the embodiment of the “Yellow Peril,” a racist trope that was popular at the time.

Despite its problematic elements, “The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu” remains a gripping and entertaining thriller, full of suspense, action, and intrigue. Rohmer’s writing is fast-paced and engaging, with vivid descriptions and colorful characters. The novel has been adapted into numerous films and television shows over the years, but the original book remains a classic of the genre, and a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of popular fiction.

One of the most striking aspects of “The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu” is the character of Fu-Manchu himself. He is a complex and enigmatic figure, alternately charming and terrifying. He is portrayed as a brilliant and ruthless mastermind, with almost superhuman powers of intellect and cunning. At the same time, he is also presented as a villainous caricature of a Chinese man, complete with exaggerated facial features and a sinister accent. This portrayal reflects the racial anxieties and prejudices of the time, but it also adds to the character’s larger-than-life persona.

Nayland Smith, on the other hand, is the quintessential British hero, brave and resourceful in the face of danger. He is a loyal servant of the British Empire, dedicated to stopping Fu-Manchu and preserving Western civilization. However, even he is not immune to the racial stereotypes of the time, as he frequently makes derogatory comments about Chinese people and their culture.

One of the most memorable scenes in the book involves the use of a deadly poison known as the “green mist.” Fu-Manchu unleashes the mist on a crowded theater, causing chaos and panic as people begin to die. The scene is chilling and suspenseful, as Smith and Petrie race against time to find an antidote and stop Fu-Manchu from using the mist again.

Another noteworthy aspect of the book is its depiction of Karamaneh, a character who serves as both a love interest and a source of information for Smith and Petrie. She is presented as a beautiful and exotic woman, with a mysterious past and a complex relationship with Fu-Manchu. While she is often relegated to the role of damsel in distress, she also demonstrates her own bravery and intelligence, helping Smith and Petrie in their quest to stop Fu-Manchu.

In conclusion, “The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu” is a classic of the thriller genre, full of suspense, action, and intrigue. While its portrayal of Chinese culture and people is problematic by modern standards, it remains an important cultural artifact of its time, reflecting the racial and cultural anxieties of the early 20th century. Despite its flaws, the book is a thrilling and entertaining read, and a must-read for fans of classic detective fiction.


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