Greetings from The Raven!

Oct. 16, 2019

The Mysterious Wu Fang: The Case of the Six Coffins by Robert J Hogan

The Mysterious Wu Fang initially launched in September 1935. This title was the third of the magazine run. The series saw Robert J. Hogan, creator of flying ace G-8 and other air ace series for Popular Publications, dive into the world of Oriental intrigue.

Addressing the elephant in the room, it is hard not to compare this villain with Doctor Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer's masterful Lord of Death. The two Chinamen are virtually identical. Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard take the roles held by Dennis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie.

There is a beautiful woman, Mohara, who, like Romar's own Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu. He is in the thick of things, selflessly aiding the investigators.

That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not characters that stand on their own, nor are they simply clones of Smith and Petrie. The addition of Cappy adds an element of child endangerment that makes Wu Fang all the more wicked. Mohara is more than a clone of Kâramanèh, possibly not as brainwashed as the later. Only Wu Fang appears too much like the character that obviously inspired him. In this story, an inventor makes a deadly liquid gas that spreads quickly and is one hundred percent fatal. Wu Fang has a sample only and half of a note that will reveal the name of the genius that created it.

The gas is being shipped in six casks, specially padded to keep the glass bottles from breaking and spreading death. Wu Fang wants those casks.

Wu is armed with a series of human and animal threats. These include tiny poisonous spiders, scorpions, and small rodents with a poison bite. Deathtraps of every conceivable variety fill every hideout Kildare and Hazard manage to infiltrate.

The mystery in the story is fairly good, but in the end, it’s a semi-rip-off of an established author. By the time this story was printed in September of 1935, Sax Rhomer had published seven Fu Manchu novels…

I like the action and am willing to overlook all but the most egregious instances of copying Fu Manchu. I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

 

 

Oct. 16, 2019

The Mysterious Wu Fang The Case of the Yellow Mask by Robert J Hogan

The Mysterious Wu Fang initially launched in September 1935. This title was the third of the magazine run. The series saw Robert J. Hogan, creator of flying ace G-8 and other air ace series for Popular Publications, dive into the world of Oriental intrigue. 

 Addressing the elephant in the room, it is hard not to compare this villain with Doctor Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer's masterful Lord of Death. The two Chinamen are virtually identical. Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard take the roles held by Dennis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie.

 There is a beautiful woman, Mohara, who, like Romar's own Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu. He is in the thick of things, selflessly aiding the investigators.

 That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not

The Mysterious Wu Fang: The Case of the Scarlet Feather by Robert J Hogan

The Mysterious Wu Fang launched in September 1935. This title was the second of the magazine run. The series saw Robert J. Hogan, creator of flying ace G-8 and other air ace series for Popular Publications, dive into the world of Oriental intrigue.

Addressing the elephant in the room, it is hard not to compare this villain with Doctor Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer's masterful Lord of Death. The two Chinamen are virtually identical.

 Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard take the roles held by Dennis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie. There is a beautiful woman, Mohara, who, like Rohmer's Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy who aides the pair of intrepid investigators, is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu.

That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not characters that stand on their own, nor are they merely clones of Smith and Petrie. The addition of Cappy adds an element of child endangerment that makes Wu Fang all the more wicked. Mohara is more than a clone of Kâramanèh, possibly not as brainwashed as the later. Only Wu Fang appears too much like the character that obviously inspired him.

 A deadly weapon in this story is a simple, small scarlet feather. The feather is discovered in the tomb of Akmenatep by archeologists Powell and Carver. Inhaling the dust from a powerful drug that the feather contains causes almost instantaneous death! Several people die before the feather runs out of mojo. But there is a second, and fear grows perhaps Wu Fang can synthesize the drug and weaponize it!

  And again, I love the action and can forgive most of the too-similar characterization of Wu Fang versus Fu Manchu.

 I give the story four stars…

 Quoth the Raven…

 

Oct. 16, 2019

The Mysterious Wu Fang The Case of the Yellow Mask by Robert J Hogan

  The Mysterious Wu Fang initially launched in September 1935. This title was the third of the magazine run. The series saw Robert J. Hogan, creator of flying ace G-8 and other air ace series for Popular Publications, dive into the world of Oriental intrigue. 

 Addressing the elephant in the room, it is hard not to compare this villain with Doctor Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer's masterful Lord of Death. The two Chinamen are virtually identical. Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard take the roles held by Dennis Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie.

 There is a beautiful woman, Mohara, who, like Romar's own Kâramanèh, sympathizes with Jerry and helps all she can without completely deserting Wu Fang. Newsboy Cappy is the one truly unique character and helps elevate the story beyond a mirror image of Fu Manchu. He is in the thick of things, selflessly aiding the investigators.

 That isn't to say that Val Kildare and Jerry Hazard are not characters that stand on their own, nor are they simply clones of Smith and Petrie. The addition of Cappy adds an element of child endangerment that makes Wu Fang all the more wicked. Mohara is more than a clone of Kâramanèh, possibly not as brainwashed as the later. Only Wu Fang appears too much like the character that obviously inspired him.

 In this story, Wu Fang is after the golden mask of Unga, said to be so powerful that the wearer can control the masses with the power of his mind! Kildare, Hazard, and the ever-present Cappy are determined that Wu Fang will never see the mask.

 The investigators are captured several times and are in danger of the little death dealers of Wu Fang. They also face a paralyzing drug, and even becoming a sacrifice to Chaing Li, the God of lost souls!

 Even with the apparent mirroring of the Fu Manchu stories, I liked this one a lot!

I give it five stars!

 Quoth the Raven…

 

 

 

 

Aug. 9, 2019

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Instrument of Death by David Stuart Davies

Gustav Caligari was a young man beset by his demons. Unable to attend classes, he is tutored by a man named Hans Bruner. Bruner introduces him to the idea of black magic. Later, he studies to become a Doctor, purely for the money he will need to carry on with his real passion, murder!

Doctor Caligari flees from Prague, where he is suspected in the death of a young woman. He sets up shop in London. From this point the story progresses much like the movie, but with a different drugged/hypnotized accomplice.

A girl is killed in London, and Holmes becomes involved.

The story is certainly well-written, with great depth of characters and plot. The constant battle between Holmes and Caligari rages throughout, and Caligari is a devious villain whose wits nearly match the Great Detective. And Caligari knows exactly how to harm Holmes the worst!

I give the book five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

 

Aug. 9, 2019

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Devil and the Four by Sam Siciliano

Holmes is consulted by wealthy John Hardy. His wife, Marguerite, has received a letter that has frightened her out of her mind. Written in her native French, it promises doom. It states, “Four for the Devil.” It then mentions four people and promises that she will be number three!

Frightened, she has fled London for Paris, stating she wants to hire a certain Mrs. Rose Grace, a consulting detective! The husband states that his wife’s past is a mystery to him, but they have a happy thirteen-year marriage.

Meanwhile, the first name on the list is found dead under suspicious circumstances…

Thus begins a fast-paced story of secrets, murder, theft and… Satanism!

In Siciliano’s world of 221B, Holmes is still the logical detective, but he has a relationship of a sort with a woman named Violet Wheelwright from one of his cases. No problem with that, even ACD had shown he had feelings for Irene Adler. In these adventures, Holmes is seconded by his cousin, Doctor Henry Vernier instead of Watson. No problem, a lot of tales out there are told by someone other than Watson.

I have but one problem with all of Siciliano’s Holmes stories. Watson is largely written out of the adventures and is treated like a bumbling buffoon. Dr. Vernier and Holmes go out of their way to let clients know that Watson will not be on the case. To have Watson out of the case is one thing; to have him and his adventures dismissed as the lies of an incompetent is blasphemous.

Setting aside the treatment of Watson, the story itself is beautifully written.  It’s a great mystery and the logic followed in bringing it to a successful conclusion are superb! The interaction of the characters and the pacing make this story hard to put down! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I give this book four stars. The one-star ding is for the shameful treatment of Watson.

Quoth the Raven…

Buy it Here>