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Author: Sax Rohmer (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward)
Published: 1921
Language: English
Wordcount: 63,907 / 193 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 74.9
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 6,510 5984

An impossible murder, an occult detective tale, and a tale within a tale -- with a solution suggested by Harry Houdini.

Show Excerpt

ngs to members of his profession; but mingled with it was an expression of almost pathetic appeal, of appeal for understanding, for sympathy of some kind.

"Go on, Sir Charles," said Harley. He pushed forward a box of cigars. "Will you smoke?"

"Thanks, no," was the answer.

Slr Charles evidently was oppressed by some secret trouble, thus Harley mused silently, as, taking out a tin of tobacco from a cabinet beside him, he began in leisurely manner to load a briar. In this he desired to convey that he treated the visit as that of a friend, and also, since business was over, that Sir Charles might without scruple speak at length and at leisure of whatever matters had brought him there.

"Very well, then," began the surgeon; "I am painfully conscious that the facts which I am in a position to lay before you are very scanty and unsatisfactory."

Paul Harley nodded encouragingly.

"If this were not so," he explained, "you would have no occasion to apply to me, Sir Charles. It is


Average Rating of 3.8 from 6 reviews: ****

When reading a mystery I like to have a bit of information to go on. Part of the fun is trying to put the pieces together and look ahead to possible solutions. In this "mystery", you get no information at all. This is just a weird, rambling fantasy. Other reviewers rated this book much higher than I did, so decide for yourself.


This was the first Sax Rhomer novel that I read and I was quite impressed. It has action, suspense and a good storyline that reminded me of some themes that were in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom especially regarding the Thugee clan, application of drugs and death by lava. A good read that inspired me to read more from this same author.


Never a dull moment! I found myself wishing for a stronger female character, but otherwise a great read.

Al Otto

This book has a well-handled reveal as to the meaning of "fire tongue." Once fully described, it helps the plot along. The book bogs down somewhat toward the end. I was suprised to find people from India referred to as "Orientals" in the early 20th century. An enjoyable read.

Linda Otto

This was fun! What could be better than a secret cult? Nothing. Enjoy!

C. Alan Loewen

Written early in his career, Fire-Tongue is one of Rohmer’s best and, in this reviewer’s opinion, even better than his Fu Manchu series.

The story contains several characters: Paul Harley, an independent investigator; Nicol Brinn, a renowned world adventurer, and Philomena Abingdon, an English beauty whose father dies under mysterious circumstances.

This pulp mystery combines them and several other characters into the strange world of Fire-Tongue that may be the name of a cult, the name of a prophesied Zoroastrian god-messiah, or simply a cold-blooded assassin.

Or maybe all three.

In spite of its abrupt ending and its glossing over of some dramatic moments that this reviewer believes Rohmer should have embellished, Fire-Tongue is well worth the time if you like pulp mysteries. However, be aware that the racist and sexist overtones, common for the day in which the novel was written, may be offensive to some.

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