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Placing his bag upon the floor, he lingered, looking to left and right, when suddenly a big closed car painted dull yellow drew up beside the pavement. It was driven by a brown-faced chauffeur whose nationality I found difficulty in placing, for he wore large goggles. But before I could determine upon my plan of action, Le BalafrÃ©" crossed the pavement and entered the car--and the car glided smoothly away, going East. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (2)
I have always enjoyed Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu books - I have them all - but I had never read his other books before. The old-fashioned style in The Golden Scorpion can be a bit offputting until you get used to it, and the racial stereotyping is certainly jarring to modern sensibilities (and would probably be offensive for some). But if you view it as a product of the time and accept that such views were typical then, it is a very exciting story. No one writes like this anymore -- exciting, with clear-cut good and evil, fast-paced, with characters who are larger than life. Good stuff!
Classic "Yellow Peril"
"... a needle-like ray of blue light shot across the lawn from beyond the hedge and-- but for that nervous start-- must have struck fully upon the back of Stuart's skull. Instead, it shone past his head, which it missed only by inches, and he experienced a sensation as though some one had buffeted him upon the cheek furiously. He pitched out of his chair and on to the carpet. The first object which the ray touched was the telephone; and next, beyond it, a medical dictionary; beyond that again, the grate, in which a fire was laid...
An intense crackling sound deafened him, and the air of the room seemed to have become hot as that of an oven. There came a series of dull reports-- an uncanny wailing... and the needle-ray vanished. A monstrous shadow, moon-cast,, which had lain across the carpet of the lawn-- the shadow of a
cowled man-- vanished also.
...There was smoke in the room, a smell of burning and of fused metal. He glared at the table madly. The mouthpiece of the telephone had vanished!"
A pretty impressive weapon and near assassination! Especially since the scene was first published in 1920 in Sax Rohmer's thriller, The Golden Scorpion.
Sadly, book store shelves today (even the shelves of rare and used book stores) are nearly devoid of works by Sax Rohmer (given name: Arthur S. Ward). The few titles by Rohmer which come and go in and out of print are those having to do with his
most famous character-- the insidious Doctor Fu Manchu (portrayed variously in films by Boris Karloff in the 1930's and Christopher Lee in the 1960's) and his nemesis, the London detective, Nayland Smith, bearing a striking resemblance to
Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes. Much is the pity that more of Rohmer's work isn't readily available to readers today. For the literary worlds of Sax Rohmer are filled with intrigue,
fast-paced action and suspense, and, alas, a good deal of what would be termed political incorrectness today. For many of Rohmer's greatest villains, like Dr. Fu Manchu, are Chinese
masterminds, ready to claim possession of the world during a time when Europeans and Americans, alike, worried about the rising influence of China and the "Yellow Peril."
In The Golden Scorpion Europe's top scientists are suddenly falling dead of no apparent cause and French detective Gaston Max, master of disguise, languages, and intellect (surely a close cousin to Mr. Holmes as well as Poe's A. Dupin) believes the
deaths are actually murder-- murder which he traces to "The Scorpion" a Chinese genius whose identity has always remained concealed behind a cloud of fear. Dr. Keppel Stuart becomes a
target of"The Scorpion" due to his knowledge of exotic poisons and falls under the charm of the beautiful Asian woman variously known as Mlle. Dorian, Zara el-Khala, and Miska, whose "smile
was the taunting smile of the East, which is at once a caress and an invitation."
But as Gaston Max closes in, we learn that Miska's is a dreadful life-- for she is an unwilling agent of "The Scorpion" who, Miska confesses, "is the most dangerous being in the known world. He has invented horrible things-- poisons and instruments, which I cannot describe because I have never seen them; but I have seen... some of their effects." Nor has she seen "The Feast of a
Thousand Ants," another one of The Scorpion's playful devices which "is performed with the aid of African driver ants, a pair of surgical scissors and a pot honey" which can strip the flesh off of a living man in sixty-nine minutes!
And who is "The Scorpion ?
"The new-comer wore a cowled garment of some dark blue material which enveloped him from head to feet. It possessed oval eye-holes, and through
these apertures gleamed two eyes which looked scarcely like the eyes of a human being. They were of that brilliant yellow colour sometimes seen in the eyes of tigers, and their most marked and awful peculiarity was their unblinking regard. They seemed always to be open to their fullest extent, and Stuart realized with anger that it was impossible to sustain for long the
piercing unmoved gaze... for he knew he was in the presence of `The Scorpion'
The Golden Scorpion stands among Rohmer's finest suspense tales outside of the Fu Manchu series. The story drives frantically to the awesome climax and will transport readers back in time to
a simpler era where the greatest threat to the world is a mad Chinese mastermind whose weapons are death rays and poisons, whose eyes have the power to mesmerize (like Chandu the Magician-- a famous pulp-fiction character and later a movie
serial which Rohmer gives a tip of the hat to in The Golden Scorpion), and who, like many a mortal, is flawed when it comes to beauty and love. Those were the days.
... Read more