"A Bid for Fortune" (AKA "Dr. Nikolas Vendetta"), written by Guy Boothby and first published 1895, is the first in a series of five and introduces the good doctor himself.
Dr. Nikola Is a criminal mastermind with an occult twist and like much fiction of that era this book and the following are more about how others fall under his spell and into his web. Here we have an adventure and love story that sweeps us from Australia, the South Seas, the Middle East and rural Hampshire with our lovestruck hero constantly battling against Dr. Nikola and his cohorts. The sense of mystery and the exotic settings are exceptionally well portrayed and give the book a nostalgic appeal for the days of imperialists and hardened empire builders.
Boothby's Nikola may be the world's first modern super villain: he is a master of hypnotism and mind control, a telepathic adept, and an astral projectionist. He can cause ordinary men to see images in pools of liquid, and prophesy into the future. It's said that he knows the hour, moment, and method of his own demise.