A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Massimo runs a bar in the Italian resort town of Pineta. His clientele consist of aggravating tourists and a few even more aggravating locals. There’s a group of four old men, including his own grandfather Ampelio, who are a particular nuisance. They’re crude, grumpy, gossipy, misogynistic, and constantly hanging about the place.
When a drunken club kid stumbles into the bar claiming to have found the body of a young woman nearby, Massimo is suddenly drawn into a murder investigation. Pineta’s dim bully of a detective, Captain Fusco, thinks he’s quickly solved the case, but Massimo isn’t so sure. Before he knows it he’s using the gossipers at his bar to help collect information. Massimo and his four aged regulars form a team of surprisingly effective amateur sleuths.
Marco Malvaldi’s Game for Five is a clever, funny take on the amateur detective yarn. It has a bit more depth, and a bit more of a noirish feel than the plot suggests. Pineta turns out to be a pretty dark place and none of the characters, not even our protagonist Massimo, is entirely appealing. It feels a little bit like a cozy for people who hate cozies. Altogether it’s one of the better new mysteries I’ve read this year.
Review by Matthew