Early on, I worried this might be a bit racist: yellow peril and all. But, although racist, it wasn't nearly so odious as Fu Manchu, which made me sick, although the guy who commented on my review of that book said I didn't understand crap about racism. I asked why, but he didn't respond. So, I think this book is mildly racist, but there are people who have gone on record to claim I don't know jack about racism. Anyway, although a tad racist, I didn't find this particular book to be odiously so. At some point, if you want to read older literature, you've got to put up with some racism. Racism was a part of the the good old days.
That all being said, it was rather a fun book. Joe Bray is a millionaire British trader in China. He tells his manager, Clifford Lynn that he is about to die and has changed his will. Originally, his distant relative in England, Stephen Narth, a financier of questionable competence and integrity was to get all of Bray's holdings. But now, he has entailed a sizable chunk of the fortune on the stipulation that Bray marry off one of the young women in Narth's household to his manager, Clifford Lynn. Narth has two daughters, the stout Mabel and the younger, Letty. Also living in the Bray household is his niece, Joan Bray, who keeps the household and its finances straight.
But, Narth, it seems, has screwed up his finances and faces complete ruin unless he can lay claim to £50,000 within a week. He becomes elated about the possibility of getting the money from the prospective marriage. Hell with a bridegroom site unseen; there's money to be had! He gets some financial help and breathing room from one Grahame St. Clay, who was rather obviously educated at Oxford. St. Clay is also rather obviously Chinese. It turns out that St. Clay is actually named Fing-Su. He was a protégé of Joe Bray. It was Bray who sent him to Oxford in the first place. It seems that St. Clay/Fing-Su has some desire to snag the Joe Bray wealth for himself and perhaps even Miss Letty or Miss Joan.
One other thing we learn about Fing-Su is that he detests Clifford Lynn. The detestation is mutual. Lynn has dubbed Fing-Su as "the yellow snake". Oh yeah, Fing-Su also has delusions of grandeur: he hopes to use the fortune he plans to wangle from Joe Bray's estate into money which he can use to bribe all public officials in China into making him emperor of China.
So we have lots of skulduggery, encounters with death squads and so on. A rather rollicking adventure.