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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Game for Five

Marco Malvaldi

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To purchase Game for Five

Title: Game for Five
Author: Marco Malvaldi
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 141 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Game for Five - US
Game for Five - UK
Game for Five - Canada
Game for Five - India
Im Schatten der Pineta - Deutschland
La briscola in cinque - Italia
La brisca de cinco - España
  • A Bar Lume Mystery
  • Italian title: La briscola in cinque
  • Translated by Howard Curtis

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Our Assessment:

B : simple but satisfying amateur-detective tale

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 31/3/2014 .
Wall Street Journal . 11/4/2014 Tom Nolan

  From the Reviews:
  • "These folks are sometimes tough to distinguish. And Massimo can use rounding out, but his smart, analytical self proves a promising hero." - Publishers Weekly

  • "(S)hort, swift, pleasing." - Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Game for Five is the first in Marco Malvaldi's 'Bar Lume' series. Set in Pineta, a once-sleepy town that's become: "a fashionable seaside resort", the Bar Lume is one of the few places where the town's older generation still feels comfortable, and so this is where a group of four sometimes crotchety but also "sprightly old-timers" like to come to while away their time. The main character, however, is bar-owner Massimo, who runs the place his own way -- with firm ideas of when to serve what beverages (especially in this heat), and not going too far out of his way if he doesn't feel like it; still, this is also the kind of place where he ("an enormous connoisseur") serves "ten different types of espresso".
       Massimo lets himself be drawn into the old geezers' card games (all the novels in the series feature card-game-related titles), but here he finds himself drawn into a murder case too, after a very inebriated youngster comes into the bar having discovered a corpse in the trash nearby. Massimo doesn't jump into trying to solve the case, but since the man in charge of the investigation is Inspector Fusco, in whom it's impossible to find anything that: "inspired the slightest sympathy", he eventually can't help but get involved.
       The murder is, of course, the talk of the town, and especially the bar, and since Massimo was on hand early on and saw the body he gets to tell the story repeatedly. The police also have some questions for him, and when he sees how they're (mis)handling the case he tries to set things right. More observant than Fusco, he's the one who figures out when they're on the wrong trail -- and where the right trail is.
       It's all fairly simple and leisurely paced, a genial investigation -- even if the murder was an ugly one -- and with a decent resolution.
       Crime fiction of this sort is, of course, as much about atmosphere as mystery, and the Bar Lume-scene, the hot summer weather, and the foursome of opinionated old guys adds nice color to the whole thing. A bit thin as a stand-alone, it makes a decent start to a series, with Fusco already well-developed as an obvious foil.
       As sometimes happens with lighter fare, the translation feels a bit rushed and light itself, from expressions such as: "an enormous connoisseur" to the baffling observation: "He looked as if he hadn't slept for several hours" (which might make some sort of sense in discussing a newborn, but doesn't when -- as here -- the subject is adult). But these aren't more than ripples in an otherwise fast and easy read, and Game for Five is a perfectly fine entertainment.

- M.A.Orthofer, 26 March 2014

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Game for Five: Reviews: Other books by Marco Malvaldi under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Italian author Marco Malvaldi was born in 1974.

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© 2014-2021 the complete review

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