Sunday, July 1, 2012
Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter G (with a nod to Letter F)
I have signed up for a second year of The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, a community meme sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise. Each week she'll be expecting participants to produce a post featuring a mystery/crime novel or novelist related to that week's letter.
Kerrie has kept us moving right along on our criminal journey and we've already made it to the letter "G." Last week, I took a little journey of my own for a Route 66 tour and so I missed the letter "F." I'm going to make up for that in this week's post.
G is for Golden. As in The Golden Scorpion by Sax Rohmer. This story, like most of Rohmer's pulp fiction novels, features a popular theme for the time period (and one that politically correct folk will find most reprehensible today)--that of the Yellow Peril. As my review mentions, Rohmer traded heavily on Western fears of the "inscrutable" Chinese to create various super-villains--of which the so-called "Golden Scorpion" was one. He produced over 25 novels and short story collections that used this theme and many of his other works ran true to form with other super-villains who range from sheiks to Islamic fanatics--mysterious, non-Britishers all.
In addition to the Scorpion, I have also read The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu (aka The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu) [I told you I'd catch us up on "F"]. And, although Scorpion was published in 1919--six years after this first Dr. Fu-Manch adventure, it reads like a trial-run for the Fu-Manchu stories. Lots of intrigue, cliffhanging adventures, mysterious & beautiful woman getting tangled up with our narrator, brilliant men of science (and other fields) dying right and left....and, behind it all, the evil of the Orient.
As long as the reader is prepared for the blatant racism of another era and willing to take it for what it is, these stories are great fun in small doses. I wouldn't want to read several in a row (and I took a substantial break between these two), but they could be an interesting guilty indulgence now and again.