This may be dated in places, with references to the "Yellow peril" and "white race", but you can either take offence or try to work with it, substituting (in my case) "Western Civ", something I am quite fond of, for white race, and understanding that the Yellow Peril is a political movement rather than merely every Asian, ever. If you can accept it on that basis, there is a fun story here, with lots of dashing about, an exotic love interest, elaborate poisonings, murderings and druggings, thuggee stranglers, dacoit killers…you could not ask for more.
Originally published in the magazines of the day (over a century ago, now) those origins are clear in the series of cliffhangers and crescendos, and the episodic nature of the adventures of Nayland Smith and Dr Petrie on the trail of Fu-Manchu. But as a true novel it works as well, with all those crescendos ever-building up to an explosive finale, with a final sad denoument left hanging (well, at least if you start the next book).
Its also clear that for all the racial prejudice of the day, Dr Fu-Manchu is a man of honour, in his own way, with political goals rather than mere mass-murder. He is also much, much more than a caricature: in the end this is about us and them, with us and them being pretty arbitrary lines at the end of the day (but then, drawing arbitrary lines to denote us from them is something humans have proven very, very good at over the years). Dr Fu Manchu is simply doing his best for his country, as Nayland Smith is for his own.
Lastly, well done to Titan Books for bringing the whole of the Fu Manchu series back into print: its nice to see the old stuff again and be reassured that the heart of a fun story can be timeless, and also that London around 1910 is a hell of an evocative setting. It may be that later volumes in the series are lesser than this - in a way, I'd be surprised if they weren't - but after reading the second volume also, that is every bit as good.