War gongs clanged in Chinatown—but it was no tong war that tore the great Societies with fear and suspicion and deadly hate. For deeper in evil mystery than their own dark secrets lay the hidden temple of crime that loosed the Scourge of the Yellow Fangs—the menace that erupted in the yellow men’s haunts and overflowed into white men’s lives and threatened white men’s rule. Victims lived long enough to curse the unknown Man From Singapore—who knew the Spider and planned his quick removal from the finish fight… While in a tenuous truce with baffled police, Richard Wentworth, by night the Spider, accepted the top-heavy odds—and gave grim battle!
“Scourge of the Yellow Fangs” is the 43rd Spider novel and was originally published in April 1937. It is Tepperman’s sixth consecutive Spider novel and the sixth of the 12 that he would write.
It is a yellow-peril novel. In the review of Tepperman’s work, there has been an ongoing discussion of how Tepperman’s Spider compares to Gibson’s Shadow and Page’s Spider. Walter Gibson was the master of this sub-genre of pulp novel. However, Page also used this sub-genre in several earlier issues, including “The Red Death Rain,” “Dragon Lord of the Underworld,” and “Emperor of the Yellow Death.” So, the use of this sub-genre does not disassociate Page’s and Tepperman’s work.
The bad guy in this one is the “Man from Singapore.” Presumably, though, Tepperman knew that this colony/city/country is not really Chinese having only about 25% of its population being of Chinese descent. Of course, the “man” could be of this ethnic group, and he is operating in NYC Chinese district. (Note: Tepperman might have confused Chinese with other Orientals… for example, he has a Chinese man address the Spider as Spider “san,” a Japanese usage.)
He is killing members of the Chinese community and leaving fang marks on their face… hence the title. Fang marks are also on the bodies of the living slaves of the man as well. He hooks them on heroin, destroys their lives, and then becomes their master. His goal is to set up a white-slavery ring sending American girls to the Far East for prostitution. He brings Chinese thugs to the US to enforce his bidding here.
Probably the best scene in this book involves a brief return of the spunky Nita (as opposed to the Nita who seems just to be along for the ride). She fences with five coolies, and prevails with her excellent swords (wo)manship taught to her by Wentworth.
The Spider uncovers the real man behind the foul play. He turns out not to be Chinese or a native of Singapore.
This one has a lot of action, but at times, I found it hard to care much about it. Not a bad pulp novel, but I do not think that Tepperman does a good job of capturing the reader’s attention with this one.