Best 1917 Adventures (8)

By: Joshua Glenn
January 2, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1917 adventure novels. Happy 100th anniversary!


Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu crime adventure The Si-Fan Mysteries (US title: The Hand of Fu Manchu).

Subtitled “Being a New Phase in the Activities of Fu-Manchu, the Devil Doctor,” this is a collection of connected stories in which Fu Manchu, an agent of a Chinese secret society, the Si-Fan, again orchestrates terror schemes — in London — with the goal of undermining the balance of global power. In order to assume command of the Si-Fan, Fu Manchu needs a bizarre engraved chest… which colonial police commissioner Nayland Smith has taken possession of, after the mysterious death of the British agent who brought it back from Tibet. Everything is topsy-turvy: Karamaneh, the beautiful servant of Fu Manchu who in previous adventures rescued Smith and his sidekick, Petrie, needs rescuing herself; Fu Manchu is nearly killed — there’s a scene in which his bullet-ridden skull is operated on. Otherwise, though, it’s business as usual: a fast-moving plot, poisonous flowers, an opium den in East London… and an insect-guarded labyrinth!

Fun fact: The final installment in what Rohmer intended to be a trilogy — beginning with The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (1913) and The Devil Doctor (1916). Beginning in 1931, however, Rohmer was persuaded to publish several additional Fu Manchu titles.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1917 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists