Game for Five

Marco Malvaldi, trans. from the Italian by Howard Curtis. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $15 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-60945-184-4
In this enjoyable series debut, Malvaldi beckons readers into Bar Lume, the terrain of barman Massimo Viviani in the coastal resort town of Pineta near Pisa. The bar is where everything happens, especially gossip, among Massimo and a coterie of arguing, card-playing pensioners. It's where Massimo refuses to serve hot cappuccino on sweltering days and where one morning a stranger reports a girl's body in a nearby trashcan. Massimo notifies the police, meets Inspector Fusco and Dr. Carli at the scene, and is immediately engrossed. Fusco, thought by some to be a fool, clearly needs Massimo's keen observations. The victim's friend Giada, Dr. Carli, and staff from the neighboring disco all drop by the bar, providing fodder for the amateur sleuthing of Massimo and the pensioners. These folks are sometimes tough to distinguish. And Massimo can use rounding out, but his smart, analytical self proves a promising hero. And it's he, who in timeless fashion, assembles the regulars at the end to explain how he pinpointed the killer. For once, they're all ears. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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