The Suicide Club (short story collection)
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Cover of the 2000 Dover Thrift Edition
|Author||Robert Louis Stevenson|
|Series||Later-day Arabian Nights|
|Genre||Detective fiction short story|
|Media type||Print (Periodical)|
|Followed by||The Rajah's Diamond|
The Suicide Club is a collection of three 19th century detective fiction short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson that combine to form a single narrative. First published in the London Magazine in 1878, they were collected and republished in the first volume of the New Arabian Nights.
The trilogy introduces the characters of Prince Florizel of Bohemia and his sidekick Colonel Geraldine. In this cycle they infiltrate a secret society of people intent on losing their lives.
It has been described as: "The Prince’s investigation of the macabre club and its criminally inclined president makes for one of Stevenson’s most exciting and suspenseful tales."
The cycle has been adapted for stage, film and television on a number of occasions.
The three short stories that form this cycle are as follows.
Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts
The story is set in Victorian London, where Prince Florizel of Bohemia and Colonel Geraldine roam in search of adventure. They dine incognito in a London oyster bar where they are surprised to be accosted by a young man distributing cream tarts for free. Intrigued by this idiosyncratic behaviour they invite him to dinner where he reveals the existence of the Suicide Club, for men who want to end their lives, but are not capable of doing that, or do not want to shock their relatives by their suicide. Florizel and Geraldine claim to want to end their lives too, and become members. It turns out that during each gathering of the club, from the members, excluding the president, two people are selected at random: one who will be killed, and one who has to do the killing; the president then instructs the person to be killed where to go, and the killer how to do the killing, in such a way that it looks like an accident. Florizel and Geraldine are appalled by the first killing since their membership, and even more by the fact that the second time Florizel is selected to be killed. Geraldine saves him and arranges that servants of Florizel capture the club members. Florizel decides to help the club members to become happy, but also to dispatch the president abroad in the custody of Geraldine’s younger brother, to be killed by the latter.
Story of the Physician and the Saratoga Trunk
The second story in the cycle is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris where an American tourist finds himself embroiled in a dastardly plot.
In the story, while lodging in Paris naïve young Silas Q. Scuddamore is lured away by a beautiful young lady who promises a secret assignation but fails to appear. Returning to his hotel dejected he is shocked to discover a dead man in his bed. Kindly neighbour Dr. Noel arranges for Scuddamore and the body (concealed in a Saratoga trunk) to be smuggled to London in the company of Prince Florizel. Once in London, Florizel discovers the plot and reveals the victim to be Geraldine’s younger brother who has been murdered by the President of the Suicide Club in his escape from custody.
The Adventure of the Hansom Cab
The third and final story in the cycle is set in the gas-lit streets of Victorian era London where a retired British soldier looks for adventure.
In the story, former Lieutenant Brackenbury Rich is beckoned into the back of an elegantly appointed Hansom by a mysterious cabman who whisks him off to a party. There the host continuously assesses his various guests and asks them to depart until only a handful are left. The host then reveals himself to be Colonel Geraldine and invites Rich to join him on a secret mission. They travel to a discreet location where Prince Florizel, with the assistance of Dr. Noel, has finally ensnared the President of the Suicide Club. The Prince challenges the President to a duel to the death and emerges victorious.
1909: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company acquired the film rights in 1908 and director D. W. Griffith used the concept of the suicide club as the basis of his 4-minute short The Suicide Club  but the plot bore little resemblance to Stevenson’s stories.
1932: Oswald remade his film of 1919 retaining the title Unheimliche Geschichten  but with a new cast led by Paul Wegener. Footage from this film was later edited into Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1943).
1936: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer adapted the story for Trouble for Two  starring Robert Montgomery as Prince Florizel, Frank Morgan as Colonel Geraldine, Reginald Owen as President of the Club and with the addition of a female love interest played by Rosalind Russell.
1946: A Chilean movie entitled La Dama de la muerte directed by Carlos Hugo Christensen and starring Guillermo Battaglia and Carlos Cores. Footage from this film was later edited into Curse of the Stone Hand (1964).
1947: Radio Program Murder at Midnight on January 6, 1947. Adaptation entitled The Ace of Death.
1981: A Soviet adaptation entitled The Suicide Club, or the Adventures of a Titled Person starring Oleg Dal as Prince Florizel and Donatas Banionis as Chairman of the Club.
- 1878, UK, London Magazine, Pub date Jun-Oct 1878, Periodical
- 1882, UK, Chatto & Windus, Pub date 1882, Hardback
- 1924 UK, Heinemann, vol one of collected works of Stevenson, Tusitala edition. Hardback.
- 1928, Macmillan Pocket Classics edition, illustrated by H.R..Millar, calf leather hardback.
- 1985, UK, Puffin ISBN 0-14-036764-0, Pub date Aug 1997, Paperback
- 1991, USA, Carroll & Graf ISBN 0-88184-741-0, Pub date Sep 1991, Hardback
- 2000, USA, Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-486-41416-7, Pub date 2000, Paperback
- Rattiner, Susan L. (2000). "Notes". In Robert Louis Stevenson. The Suicide Club (Dover Thrift Editions ed.). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. pp. vii–iii.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1909)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Der Geheimnisvolle Klub (1913)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1914)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Unheimliche Geschichten (1919)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Unheimliche Geschichten (1932)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1943)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Trouble for Two (1936)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com La Dama de la muerte (1946)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Curse of the Stone Hand (1964)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1950)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1956)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1960)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1963)". Retrieved May 21, 2012.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1970)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com El Club de los suicidas (1970)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (1988)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com The Suicide Club (2000)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Bankrotári (2003)". Retrieved July 20, 2007.
- "IMDb.com Club de los suicidas, El (2007)". Retrieved March 30, 2009.
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