Mysteries Chronicle: Dead Poets
Review by Tom Nolan
Marco Malvaldi's "Game for Five" (World Noir, 140 pages, $15), a 2007 work newly translated from Italian, is short, swift, pleasing. Intellectual curiosity is the driving force behind the sleuthing of the amateur, accidental detective. "You know, whenever they asked Newton how he could solve such complicated problems," says Massimo, proprietor of the Bar Lume in the northern Italian resort of Pineta, "he'd reply that it was easy, you just had to keep thinking about them. I'm no Newton . . . but if I don't understand something . . . I worry about it all day every day." What Massimo doesn't understand this season is who killed the local Jezebel, and why: a macho Romeo, jealous of her other affairs? An older man fearful of exposure? A tourist serial killer? "People seem to trust you," an officious police inspector tells Massimo, encouraging the barman to keep poking his unofficial nose into the affair. That happens to square with the barman's business model: "These days," he reflects, "the people who came in during the morning were almost all local, and they didn't want a coffee, but a story." With the help of Mr. Malvaldi, Massimo serves up a good one.