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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Three-Card Monte

Marco Malvaldi

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To purchase Three-Card Monte

Title: Three-Card Monte
Author: Marco Malvaldi
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2014)
Length: 168 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Three-Card Monte - US
Three-Card Monte - UK
Three-Card Monte - Canada
Three-Card Monte - India
Die Schnelligkeit der Schnecke - Deutschland
Il gioco delle tre carte - Italia
El juego de las tres cartas - España
  • A Bar Lume Mystery
  • Italian title: Il gioco delle tre carte
  • Translated by Howard Curtis

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Our Assessment:

B : quick, breezy, people-/atmosphere- rather than crime-focused

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Wiener Zeitung . 27/5/2012 Monika Jonasch

  From the Reviews:
  • "Das Buch ist sicher als Urlaubslektüre zu empfehlen, aber auch einfach ein guter Krimi mit ansprechend geschmackvoll aufbereitetem, typisch italienischem Drumherum. Ein echtes Lesevergnügen !" - Monika Jonasch, Wiener Zeitung

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:

       Three-Card Monte is the second 'Bar Lume' mystery, featuring thirty-seven year-old-bar-owner Massimo Viviani and a quartet of old coots who have made the Bar Lume their regular haunt -- often to the annoyance of Massimo (though one of the old geezers is his grandfather). The bar is in Pineta, not too far from Pisa, and the major events happening around this time are an international scientific congress, the Twelfth International Workshop on Macromolecular and Biomacromolecular Chemistry, -- which brings lots of foreigners to town -- and Massimo trying to get the Wi-Fi at Bar Lume to work.
       Soon enough, of course, there's a death, and it's ruled a murder -- to the chagrin of in-over-his-head (and not just because he's only a diminutive five feet tall) local police Inspector Dr. Vinicio Fusco, who has a realistic grasp on the situation and his abilities and admits:

     But let's be honest. Given the situation, and given the time limit, it's very unlikely I'll be able to discover what happened, and I don't have the slightest hope of being able to arrest anyone. What concerns me, I want to make this quite clear, is to do things as best as I possibly can and not making glaring errors.
       Fusco does call on Massimo -- because he's helped him in a previous case, because he was present at the conference (catering the affair) when the death occurred, and because his English fluency comes in handy in dealing with some of the foreigners that have to be questioned. Of course, Massimo -- who has a degree in mathematics and gave further study up only because he won the lottery, allowing him to set himself up as a bar-owner -- has other useful talents too, and sees through the confusion to figure everything out (nudged in the right direction by some helpful pointers from one of the old coots regarding how the deception of three-card monte works).
       The crime, and its (re)solution, are relatively unexceptional -- almost anticlimactic. Three-Card Monte isn't so much a whodunnit -- that's the question, sure, but readers hardly could have put it together for themselves until all the relevant information has been revealed in Massimo's summing up -- but rather an amiable small-town novel where murder is incidental. Massimo himself has the whole thing pegged just right:
Two murders two summers running, in a with a population of five thousand. We're going to end up like the town where the main character lives in Murder She Wrote, a town of only three thousand people where every day one of them gets murdered, and then every now and again the main character is invited somewhere to spend the weekend and bang ! Somebody's murdered there too.
       The 'Bar Lume'-mysteries have that Murder She Wrote-feel, as interested in character and the locale as in the actual crime -- and they're perfectly fine like that. The slightly crotchety barman, the old geezers, Tiziana, who helps out in the bar (and calls Massimo "bwana" -- and finally convinces him to redecorate the bar), the quirky outsiders -- a Dutch scientist who doesn't take the conference all too seriously, a young Japanese delegate on his first trip abroad --, and Inspector Fusco: they, and their interactions, make for an entertaining cast of characters and events.
       This is very simple and undemanding fare, but well-done for that -- as breezy and satisfying as a solid hour-episode of Murder She Wrote.

- M.A.Orthofer, 12 August 2014

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Three-Card Monte: 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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