FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE LEOPARD COUCH by Sax Rohmer, 2012
This is the 110th in my series of Forgotten Books.
A couple of months ago Bill Crider noted the publication of these stories in a nifty volume from Black Dog Books. I like Black Dog Press because they are devoted to the pulps and those special writers who made them memorable. They are planning a series of titles by Sax Rohmer of which this is Volume 2. Previously they published THE GREEN SPIDER and there are more titles forthcoming.
I have written earlier of my love of the Fu Manchu books and movies. This was begun in 1967 when I requested the full set of Fu Manchu novels for Christmas, having seen a listing for them in a Pyramid paperback. I think only seven were in print at the time but I got those and fell in love with Sir Denis Nayland Smith , Dr. Petrie, and that demon incarnate Fu Manchu. I also discovered other stories and novels by Sax Rohmer at the time since Pyramid had also released THE DREAM DETECTIVE (featuring Mr. Morris Klaw), BROOD OF THE WITCH QUEEN and THE YELLOW CLAW. Other books were around and I suddenly had an OK library of Rohmer’s work. I looked around for other tales not committed to paperback and found DOPE, BAT WING, and more. My favorite set of stories included Bimbashi Baruk and the Egyptian Camel Corps.
But to this one. Tom Roberts, working with George Locke and Gene Christie have gathered together an eclectic and rare set of Rohmer tales, most of which have not been published in the US for more than 50 years, including four never published before in the US.
There are 13 stories and rather than discuss them all, I will comment on a few that I really liked. There are two stories featuring the mysterious Madame de Medici, who is a fascinating character and I wish there had been more. These were “The Haunted Temple” and “The Red Eye of Vishnu”. Madame de Medici is certainly not a heroine nor all together a villain, though she leans more that way in these two stories. The Red Eye is the better of the two but both are very enjoyable. I also really liked “The Tragedies in the Greek Room” which is apparently the first story to introduce Morris Klaw, the Dream Detective. A museum is having a problem with disturbances and deaths in a locked room environment and there are no clues. The police are baffled and when Morris Klaw enters, they are more than willing to allow him his eccentricities in order to solve the case. This involves sleeping in the locked room with the dead man in order to capture his mind’s last images in a mental photograph. Sounds funky but it seems to work and Klaw is able to solve the case which takes several odd twists.
The title story was quite a bit of fun involving a cursed piece of Egyptian furniture. Then there is “The Curse of a Thousand Kisses” which is one of Rohmer’s more reprinted pieces with a hideous old woman who is cursed to misery until she is able to obtain one thousand kisses. Fun stuff there. And “The Hand of the White Sheik” and “A House Possessed” where a Christmas guest may actually be Satan come to wreak havoc.
This was a fun book and I really enjoyed it. As I generally do with Black Dog Books. Small presses have a hard enough time being distributed so I am always glad to pass along great titles when I can. Check it out at the usual places.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.