Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Yellow Claw – Part Three

Sax Rohmer’s The Yellow Claw was originally serialized in five installments in Lippincott’s from February through June 1915. The serial was subsequently published in book form later that same year by Methuen Press in the UK and McBride & Nast in the US. The novel chooses to divide the story into four sections. This week, we examine the third part.

Rohmer shifts the action back to Inspector Dunbar and Gaston Max’s investigation into the murder at the Leroux residence. Despite the press fingering Soames, the Leroux butler, as chief suspect, the detectives are sure that finding Soames will lead them to the mysterious Mr. King, the real culprit. Gaston Max suggests that Mr. King is a Chinaman with the reasoning that since the deceased was an opium addict, the murder is likely tied to Limehouse.

The French detective adopts the false identities of both Abraham Levinsky and Monsieur Gaston of Paris to infiltrate the bohemian circle that frequents the opium den. Max had stumbled onto the trail of Mr. King in Paris where the opium dealer was operating in an apartment next to the historical residence of the late Joseph Balsamo, alias the infamous Count Cagliostro. From here, Rohmer is on familiar territory at last as Max’s description of his raid on the Paris opium den is decidedly more typical of Rohmer’s Fu Manchu thrillers.


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