Archive for March 26, 2014

51ohmdSj07L._Among the books I have been sent recently by Europa Editions UK was a thin book of 140 pages entitled Game For  Five: A Bar Lume Mystery by Marco Malvadi translated by Howard Curtis. The handy length and the recommendations on the front and back cover from Andrea Camilleri meant I moved it to the top of my reading list.

Do you have to be Italian to write extremely amusing novels about a tragic subject?

I suppose if in a mere hundred years you have had your army commanded by Luigi Cadorna, an advocate of decimation to encourage the troops, and then been ruled by Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi you develop an intriguing national sense of humour.

At the Bar Lume four old men sit playing cards, insulting each other, and the other  residents of Pineta, a small coastal town in Northern Italy. They argue and gossip with  Massimo the barman, and when a young woman is found dumped in a trash can they encourage him to take the role of amateur detective in the investigation. After all in Pineta sticking your nose in other people’s business was the national sport.

The plot is good with several suspects for the murder but it is the interaction and relationships between the younger Massimo and his elderly customers that makes this book such a brilliant read. The social commentary on the subtle incompetence of the Italian administrative system is neatly done. 

The name of the fourth man is Pilade Del Tacca. He has watched seventy-four springs glide pleasantly by and is happily overweight. Years of hard work at the town hall in Pineta, where if you don’t have breakfast four times a morning you’re nobody, has formed both his physique and his character; apart from being ill-mannered, he’s also a pain in the butt.

There are other well drawn characters including Tiziana, who…

possessed two perfect attributes for working in a bar. Firstly, she wasn’t clumsy. Secondly, she had beautiful breasts……..

There is also Fusco, the standard Italian incompetent local police chief, the elegant Arianna Costa the victim Alina’s mother, and an assorted selection of suspects for the murder.

I won’t spoil it by giving any more details because if you only read one translated crime fiction book this year make it Game For Five. 

Thank God I’ve got coffee. Who was it who invented coffee? He must be the cousin of the genius who invented the bed.

Nobel Prizes for both of them.

For them, and for the person who invented Nutella.