Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Bride Of Fu-Manchu!
The Bride of Fu-Manchu was an intoxicating read. The deadly menace of Dr.Fu-Manchu is much in evidence in this well-crafted tale featuring a distinctively lurid bio-weapon developed by "The Devil Doctor".
The story is told from the perspective of Alan Sterling, a botanist and orchid specialist recovering from "Blackwater Fever" himself, who falls in love with a beautiful girl named "Fleurette" he encounters on the beaches of the French Riviera. The story then launches itself forward with great skill as Alan consults his old family friend Dr.Petrie who has been called in by the authorities to solve a medical mystery, a great plague dubbed "The Black Stigmata" which seems to be occurring in isolated cases across Europe. There is evidence it is something new, a weird and deadly blend of plague and other vile diseases.
It soon becomes clear that some human agency is at the root of his menace as threatening eyes and and odd men called "Dacoits" and eventually Fah Lo Suee herself show up around the lab. Sir Nayland Smith arrives in due course after Petrie is struck down by the mysterious disease, but not before his potential cure prevents the illness from killing him. Now the race is to get that potential cure from unconscious mind of Petrie before the world falls victim. Alan is soon kidnapped by Fu Manchu's henchmen and enters into a strange and truly weird world of laboratories peopled by living dead men, a scientific haven ruled by "The Devil Doctor" himself.
This is the best constructed Fu Manchu novel I've read yet. The narrative flowed wonderfully as we follow alongside Alan as he encounters the madness and danger of Fu Manchu for the first time. Like Petrie and Shan Greville before him, he is a sufficiently brave protagonist. There are some neat secrets revealed and nifty surprises in this one as the larger story of Fu Manchu begins to both broaden and deepen. The evil Doctor is much on hand in this novel, not merely an occasional presence who is glimpsed now and again. He is very much a part of the proceedings in this one, adding his perspective steadily to the narrative.
I would recommend this heartily, but it is important to have read some of the early novels first. If the writing and the stories continue to develop like this one, I look very much forward to the next installment.