Thursday, October 24, 2013
The Trail Of Fu-Manchu!
The Trail of Fu-Manchu, the most recent Fu-Manchu novel from Titan Books is a humdinger. Picking up the story quickly after the last installment, we find Fu-Manchu on the run and seemingly without his elaborate support system which made him so seemingly invincible. Against this more vulnerable Fu-Manchu, Sir Nayland Smith once again steps up to tackle his arch enemy.
The story begins when Fleurette, the daugher of Dr.Petrie is kidnapped by Fu-Manchu in a typically baroque and complicated scheme. Her lover Alan Sterling is beside himself throughout most of the tale and is himself captured soon enough. Smith and a reasonably competent police force track Fu-Manchu through and eventually under the streets of London, specifically his old haunts in the Limehouse district.
There seems a real attempt in this one by Rohmer to evoke the old mystery surrounding the character and invest the very streets of London with a sense of the unknown and potential danger. The story is typically a fireball with a wonderful pace with keeps the reader bouncing along eager for the next revelation.
One thing I find I love about these books are the titles Rohmer uses for his chapters, almost always intriguing and they almost always payoff. That kind of minor mystery each chapter which are often very short makes for a totally involving read. Rohmer seems keen not to let the reader lose interest even for a moment and in this story almost always succeeds.
The scope of the threat this time is diminished as the Devil Doctor wants only to reclaim his own youth and his resources for world domination. But there is no specific threat to the world this time, only to the close friends and confidantes of Nayland Smith himself. Dr.Petrie is not in the story at all until the end, but plays a critical role in the denoument which is at once surprising and satisfying in a weird way.
The central images of horror in this one are classic as the heroes are threatened with death in a most horrifying manner, and the threat seems quite palpable. Fu-Manchu takes them to hell itself, a place where he is master.
I highly recommend this one, but be sure to read the previous installment first for full enjoyment.