Rohmer, Sax: The Trail of Fu Manchu
This novel was first published in 1934
Sax Rohmer introduced Dr. Fu Manchu to the world in 1911 in a series of novels in which Fu Manchu tries to take over the world and is prevented from doing so only by the British pluck of Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie. Smith is the brilliant sleuth accompanied by his biographer (in the early stories) but Dr. Petrie is not a foil for Smith’s brilliance as Watson is for Holmes. Dr. Petrie is a much more rounded and capable character than the plodding, and often dim, Watson. In The Mask of Fu Manchu, Fu Manchu states that Dr. Petrie “…could have been the most prominent physician of the Western world had he not preferred domesticity with an ex-servant of mine.” Fu Manchu is referring to one of his former agents, the "seductively lovely" Kâramanèh. She was sold to the Si-Fan (Fu Manchu’s criminal organization) by Egyptian slave traders while still a child. Kara falls in love Dr. Petrie, wins her freedom from Fu Manchu, and marries her Dr. Petrie.
Fu Manchu has been featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years, and has become the stereotype of the evil mastermind and of the Yellow Peril which, in the early 20th century, purportedly threatened the existence of the West. Fu Manchu was the prototype for many subsequent megalomaniacs who wanted to take over the world – Holmes’ Professor Moriarty, Doctor Jack Quartz (from pre-Killmaster Nick Carter), Zenith the Albino (Sexton Blake) and James Bond’s Dr. No and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as well as others. The malevolent genius has also been parodied in in radio, TV and comics, for example as Dr. Craw in the Get Smart television series.