The Minerva Club

This is the 19th in a series of Friday Forgotten Books

Victor Canning, collection © 2009, stories selected and edited by John Higgins, Crippen & Landru, 2009 hardcover

This mystery short story collection includes three sets of stories: of The Minerva Club, of The Department of Patterns and of Dr. Kang

This is the 27th offering in Crippen & Landru’s Lost Classics series of new collections by great writers of traditional mysteries.

If the cover looks familiar, it’s because I’m not the first member of the Friday Forgotten Books group to have featured it. Maybe that means it’s not really forgotten, but it certainly won’t hurt to add a little more awareness about what is an excellent collection of fun – and different – mystery short stories.

Victor Canning (1911-1986) created three unique series chronicling the mysteries of some of the most original characters in detective fiction. This collection of 24 stories begins with the misadventures of the Minerva Club, an exclusive club comprised of England’s criminals. Whether trying to break into a prison to retrieve a stash of diamonds stowed during a previous incarceration, resolve a faux kidnapping gone wrong, or figure out a way to heist all of the materials needed for a wedding, the Minerva Club always manages to achieve their goal…often in the most surprising of ways.

Also we have the enigmatic cases of the Department of Patterns, a French police agency who look for clues and connections between seemingly irrelevant events. Under the guidance of the jovial and hard nosed Papa Grand, new recruits are taught to see patterns in even the most obscure of places.

Finally, follow the journeys of Dr. Kang who finds mystery in his travels around the world. Never one to hide from trouble, Dr. Kang proves his talent for attracting death is surpassed only by his talent for avoiding it.

My favorites here were the seven Department of Patterns stores, followed by the Dr. Kang stories. I wish there had been more of both of those series. The Minerva Club stories are fun, clever and display humor, but it was the others that really made this nice collection shine for me.

Crippen & Landru continues to do a fine job with the Lost Classics series as well as new collections of short stories by the best mystery authors writing today.

series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more FFB reviews at her own blog,
along with a complete list of today’s participating blogs.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Friday Forgotten Book, Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Minerva Club

  1. Carl V. says:

    Friday Forgotten Books is a fantastic feature. There are way too many wonderful books that not enough people know about. I look forward to seeing what treasures, like this one, that you reveal each week.

  2. Richard says:

    Carl – the thing was started by Patti Abbott, and is mostly mystery readers, but some, like George Kelly and myself do SF and other things too. If you’d like to join the fun, just give Patti Abbot a holler here. She’s always glad to welcome new people.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    You definitely can’t go wrong with most of the Crippen & Landru books. There have only been a couple in the whole run that I was disappointed in, and the Canning is not one of them.

    Good choice.

  4. Richard says:

    I agree, Jeff. I know you’re a subscriber to the publisher, as am I. I’m pretty far behind on them though, I must have at least a dozen unread. Yikes!

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Since I have to review them for CADS it makes me keep up to date, so generally I only have the last couple yet to read.

  6. You and Jeff are correct about Crippen & Landru: great books from a singular small press. I read this book when it published last year which led me to read a couple of Victor Canning’s novels.

  7. Patti Abbott says:

    Yes, Carl. Come on over. I always am trying to find new people. Thanks, Rick.

  8. Bill Crider says:

    I really enjoyed this book.

  9. Evan Lewis says:

    Dr. Kang brings to mind Dr. Fu Manchu, the Mysterious Wu Fang and the Avengers’ old foe, Kang the Conqueror, but I suppose he’s no relation. Sounds like a cool book anyway.

  10. Richard says:

    Evan – no relationship, no more than than Kang the Conqueror (Marvel Comics) or Liu Kang (DC Comics). One interesting thing is this fellow starts out as a villain but later becomes a good guy, or at least a consultant for the good guys.

  11. Richard says:

    George, I think Bill Crider’s post on his blog about this book got em to move it up in The Pile, and I also bought another Canning book.

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