"The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu" Book Review

Written by John Colianni

Published by Titan Books

Written by Sax Rohmer
2012, 256 pages, Fiction
Released on February 14th, 2012


In the era of instant gratification and technology at the tips of everyone's fingertips, it's difficult to move away from the glowing screens of your televisions, computers and cell phones to take the time and read something that happens to be printed in a book. And for all of those individuals who are currently sporting the most current tablet available that they read all their books on, you're clearly operating at a disadvantage. What happens when it's batteries run out? What if you accidentally drop your Kindle down an elevator shaft? What happens when you're getting your pretentious venti soy caramel latte at Starbucks and vigilante hobos steal it? There goes an entire collection of literature you purchased from the Internet, which you now have to re-download like a tool bag just to enjoy again. That's why I find a special importance in the owning and sharing of books. But before I get too far ahead of myself and endlessly rant about why not having some sort of personal library in your house is, in fact, a direct correlation to the intelligence of your offspring, let's chat a bit about Sax Rohmer's The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu.

Before I go into why I enjoyed this particular piece of literature so much, there may be the off chance some of you have no idea who Dr. Fu-Manchu actually is. Although the only time you might have heard of "Fu-Manchu" was when your bored college roommate decided to try and grow a gnarly mustache. That is indeed not the case. The character Dr. Fu-Manchu was created by Sax Rohmer (such a badass name) in the early parts of the 20th century when, instead of trolling the comments sections of YouTube, reading was the cool thing to do. Sure, the fact that he's an Asian villain and his portrayal can be considered a bid racist at times, but that is not at all why I considered this to be a great piece of literature. Actually, that would make me kid of a jerk and I would wholeheartedly accept your criticism. The reason I couldn't put this down is because the book's characters and settings bring you back to a much simpler and mysterious time.

Often referred to as Sherlock Holmes knockoffs, Rohmer has two protagonists, Dr. Petrie (who narrates much of the story) and Nayland Smith, who are in a constant search for the evil Dr. Fu-Manchu and his league of assassins. the two men complement one another well in their pursuit of the evil doctor, who is always just one step ahead. Throughout the novel, I should point out that weird things go on, but that comes along with the supernatural and ridiculous nature of these sorts of stories. Wire jacket torture, a haunted house, a killer primate and the occasional mummy pops up to add to the fun. Another way you as the reader will definitely keep the pages turning is the fact that chapters move very quickly. I would almost compare them to scenes in a movie, being fast-paced and very descriptive. Each part of the story doesn't keep you in the same place for every long and it's refreshing to read something like this, even though its nearly 100 years old. As for the infamous Dr. Fu-Manchu, mystery novel villains don't get much better. His intrigue alone will keep your eyes buried in this.

Please, if you're a lover of mystery who has burned through your recent queue of paperback or hardcover books, take a chance with some stuff by Sax Rohmer. As old as these writings are, they never feel dated. Almost as a juxtaposition to early cinema, Rohmer brings readers back to a much simpler era: an era not filled with laptops or cellphones, fast cars or transcontinental flights, but rather one that can be romanticized. His ability to make you need to know what happens in the very next chapter is something that few authors in our current generation can do. So, the next time you happen to see a buddy of yours growing a specific "genre" of facial hair, promptly grab your copy of The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu, slap them upside the head with it and educate them on where it all started.



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