Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s President Fu Manchu, Part Two

Sax Rohmer’s "The Invisible President" was originally serialized in Collier’s from February 29 to May 16, 1936. It was published in book form later that year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US under the title "President Fu Manchu." The novel is the first in the series to fictionalize real events with characters based on familiar figures in the US in the 1930s such as Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin. More than one critic has noted the story may have influenced the classic Cold War conspiracy thriller "The Manchurian Candidate." The hotel where Sir Denis Nayland Smith and his FBI counterpart, Mark Hepburn are staying is thrown into a panic over the unexpected arrival of James Richet, Abbot Donegal’s secretary, who is wanted by the authorities as a member of the Si-Fan. Richet arrives by taxi outside the hotel before collapsing. His corpse is discovered inexplicably covered with mysterious red spots. When first introduced, Richet came under suspicion for no better reason than Smith detecting Eurasian blood in his background. Strangely, Smith’s valet Fey is also Eurasian and while other characters sometimes express doubts about Fey’s loyalty, Sir Denis never questions it. One wishes that Rohmer would have given Smith a more concrete reason to suspect Richet other than racial profiling. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.

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