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Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

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The publisher and numerous favorable blurbs on Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives compares our cerebral sleuth to such luminaries as Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason. However, he doesn’t resemble any of them. Yes, he’s a dandy like Dame Agatha Christie’s famed detective, but there the resemblance ends, and he is much, much more pedantic than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation or Erle Stanley Gardner’s. It’s a shame that so many resort to comparisons as Scorbion is just a so-so protagonist. In fact, he makes me think of Lynne Truss’ Constable Twitten if he were more clever and resided in a novel that wasn’t ridiculous.

It’s 1910, and the impeccably dressed Pignon Scorbion has just accepted the position of chief police inspector in the town of Haxford, England, and, to his delight, reunites with an old pal, barber Calvin Brown. Inexplicably, Scorbion ignores his own constable and deputizes Brown, his two underling barbers, an uneducated shoeshine boy and a wannabe-reporter to assist him. (Indeed, Scorbion’s paid underlings, Sergeant Simon Adley and Roger Pawling, barely appear in the novel, and then only performing the most menial xtasks.) Not as ridiculous as Truss’ The Man That Got Away, but it did take some suspension of disbelief.

Author Rick Bleiweiss makes it clear that Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives is the first in a new series, and I’m sure, with such illustrious friends as Nancy Pickard, Robert Arellano, Dick Lochte and Rex Pickett, he won’t have any trouble realizing that dream. But I’m not sure whether I’ll be along for the next one. Scorbion investigates several mysteries, including some murders, but they’re hackneyed and a bit contrived, and, while the novel is hailed as humorous, it’s not that funny. When an author ensures that secondary characters are always lauding Scorbion’s perspicacity and genius, it means that he fears the casual reader won’t notice. That’s not something you have to do with Poirot, Holmes or Perry Mason. Two stars, rounded up to three because of the resolution of the Bentine affair and my feeling generous.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
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I was offered the chance to review this book by the publisher through NetGalley and I jumped at the chance to read it. This is a new series set in 1910 in England in a small town where it seems crime never happens. When a new police inspector, Pignon Scorbion, arrives in town, everyone is surprised by his demeanor and his attention to looking fashionable at all times and his strange name. He is not like their last police inspector and they are suspicious of him and whether he can bring any value to the village. Quickly, however, Pignon Scorbion, shows the small town what he is capable of in regards to solving mysteries and uses his friends at the local barbershop to help him investigate three crimes that have recently occurred in Haxford.

The concept of this book is very good. I am not quite sure why the author decided to have Scorbion conduct all of his investigations in the local barbershop and not the police station, but it is what it is. That really didn’t make a lot of sense to me and while it did bring some added value to the book, it left me a little confused as to why this would have been done. I guess you just have to roll with it. I did like the characters in the book and liked how there were three separate mysteries to solve in this book.

While I was not overly impressed with this book, I did still have a good time reading it. I liked the characters and would read the next book in the series to see if there is some character development. There was a teaser for the second book at the end of this one, but I never read them so I am assuming the next book will be forthcoming in the next year or so. If you like to read mysteries that are short, to the point and are quite whimsical, this might be a book you might want to look into.

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Author: Rick Bleiweiss

Series: Pignon Scorbion Mystery #1

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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Pignon Scorbion is a detective by trade and has recently become the new chief police inspector in the English municipality of Haxford. He is looking for something that will give him some intellectual stimulation. At first, he thinks that the hamlet is a little sleepy. Yet before he knows it there are three cases in from of him. He elects his new friends from a local barbershop to be his deputies and together, they look for clues and interview witnesses and suspects. They come together to debrief at the barbershop and late by little the truth of the crimes is revealed. 

Pignon Scorbion and The Barbershop Detectives is set in 1910 England.  As a detective, he is a lite unconventional and this ruffles some of the people in the town. They are not used to change and do not want any trouble. In fact, they are a little defensive and protective of their community. That doesn't mean that there is not some backstabbing involved though (literally).

The book was a little slow for me. Part of that might have been the clunkiness of the dialogue. It could just be alot at times. The other reason it was slow for me was more than likely the fact that mysteries are not usual my cup of tea. My mom loves Agatha Christie and little by little I'm trying to open myself to see what these books are all about. And what I really liked about this universe is that it is connected to other well known characters from the same time. These includes Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and Hercule Poirot. I may not be familiar with alot of mystery books but I do recognize those names. 

Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives is the first book in a new detective series. Will I revisit Pignon and his barbershop Detectives? Possibly. I did find the characters endearing and liked the way they worked together. My only concern is the dialogue becoming tiresome for me. I wonder if an audio version would be better? I think it might especially if voiced by a British narrator!
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As an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, Rick Bleiweiss' novel, Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives was an absolute delight to read. We are transported back to Edwardian England where Chief Police Inspector Scorbion must solve a series of murders that have occurred in his not-so-sleepy small town. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book for Bleiweiss!
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Not necessarily my type of book, but an interesting read nonetheless. Thank you for sending this my way! It's always appreciated.
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I expected to thoroughly enjoy Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives. It features a chief police inspector but is at heart a cozy mystery set in a small town in England in 1910. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me.

Scorbion, is a dapper, overly observant detective, à la Poirot. He is a little more aware of other people’s feelings and actually has a love interest, but he didn’t stand out for me. There are a lot of characters, the folks at the barbershop, the local bookseller, the townspeople involved in the cases. There were too many for any to have more than one or two defining characteristics – this one’s short, this one is from France, this one is “modern.” I didn’t really care about any of them.

The mysteries were okay. They’re solved through interrogations at the barbershop, with a few behind-the-scenes phone calls from the police station. The flow wasn’t great, but there were a couple of interesting twists. The workers at the barbershop and a local reporter get to do some of the questioning, but clearly only Pignon is smart enough to put it all together. Eh.

The thing that disappointed me most was how stilted the writing was. It felt like the author was trying to use the writing style to place the book in 1910, but the dialogue is clunky and in general, it’s just overdone. I should probably stop reading books that are compared to Christie’s, they never live up to the hype.

The set-up is so promising, it’s a shame it didn’t live up to it.
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In 1910, Pignon Scorbion is the new chief police inspector in the small English village of Haxford.  He’s dapper, reserved, and many of the residents are skeptical that he will be of any use to them.  After all, there isn’t much crime in Haxford. He is a contemporary of the famed detective, Hercule Poirot and a great admirer of Sherlock Holmes.  So, it’s not a surprise that Pignon employs many of their techniques as he solves four different cases with the help of the staff at the local barbershop.

Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives is Rick Bleiweiss’ debut novel and it is a delightful introduction to the detective and his band of amateur investigators.  The four mysteries are well-conceived and the thought process (reminiscent of both Sherlock and Poirot) that leads to the solutions is interesting and entertaining. I am looking forward to more books by Mr Bleiweiss. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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3 quaintly charming stars
“My brain is my most formidable weapon.” Pignon Scorbion

Some old-fashioned language and expressions flavor the dialog and narrative of the story set in 1910 small town England, but it is easy to understand in context.  “Keeping the presses running is duck soup for me.” There are very mild romantic hints as subplots, but the language, including murder descriptions is very clean.

Pignon Scorbion is a stuffy and formal police chief who is particular about his clothes and distinctive shoes. When he is ready to lay out the solution to the crime, he gathers the local “barbershop detectives” as well as the perpetrators. I found these revelations a bit long winded with no real action. I guessed some of the solutions. Of the cases presented, I enjoyed the circus mystery the most. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I had high hopes that the book would be as entertaining as it’s title. While I appreciate the time and effort the author put into this book, sadly it was just not for me. Too many words, too much dialogue, too much and that is before the story begins to unfold. There is a story there but I just couldn’t wade through all of it to get to it. Applause for the attempt and effort.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this body of work. I had a very hard time taking it serious, and will have to give it another chance at a later.
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This was a good attempt at creating another "Golden Age" detective.  Pignon Scorbion has much in common with our favorite detectives of old.   

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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3.5 stars.  
An unusual and unconventional detective, Pignon Scorbion makes his appearance in Rick Bleiweiss’ first mystery novel. A dapper dresser, the detective is a little bored when he first walks into the Hackford barbershop of his friend Calvin, and Calvin’s team of intelligent and curious barbers.

Almost immediately, three cases occur in the town, one a paternity case, the other two robbery and murder. Instead of running around looking for clues, Pignon elects to deputize Calvin and company, then holds interviews with the cases’ parties within the barbershop. Pignon soon includes the forthright and intelligent Thelma Smith, local bookshop owner, in the proceedings for her perspectives on the potential suspects (and because Pignon is intrigued and attracted to her.) After several interviews with all the affected parties, of course Pignon does solve each case, because he’s smart, and the cases were not too complicated (I figured them out pretty quickly).

I liked this book, though I did find the dialogue often klunky, not flowing as well as I would have liked. The stories are set in 1910 Edwardian small town England, and I think people would have used less complicated sentences, and been less wordy than Bleiweiss has made them. 

I was totally tickled, though, that Bleiweiss set Pignon in a world where these detectives are real: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (Pignon knew Watson), and the inimitable Hercule Poirot, recently a refugee from Belgium, is starting his career as a detective in England. I had a big smile on my face when Pignon was contemplating making Poirot’s acquaintance at some time: I could envision Pignon and Poirot seated together, Pignon’s bi-colour polished shoes and tailored suits and Poirot’s shining green eyes and big moustache on display, discussing their approaches to detection.

Would I read the next Pignon Scorbion and the barbershop detectives book? Probably, as Bleiweiss’ detective’s unconventionality, gentleness, and respect for people was a pleasant change from grittier, hardbitten gumshoes I’ve encountered during the same time period in fiction.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Blackstone Publishing for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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I thoroughly enjoyed Bleiweiss's cast of characters, especially Chief Inspector Scorbion, a scion of deductive reasoning., and an admirer of both Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. I did find it rather unorthodox that Scorbion conducted his interviews and investigations inside his friend's barbershop, and deputized the staff so they could assist him in his inquiries. But it was a treat to watch Scorbion reason his way through 4 different cases, and bring three different murderers to justice.
I can't wait to read the next novel in the series!
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Chief Inspector Pignon Scorbion claimed that he had not encountered any interesting cases of late. "I need intellectual brain is my most formidable weapon." How fortuitous! He was assigned as chief inspector of the British Hamlet of Haxford. The year was 1910. Twenty-five years ago, he was just a street copper when Calvin Brown was apprenticing at a barbershop. Calvin Brown now owned Brown's Barbershop in Haxford. Scorbion was excited to renew his friendship and frequented the shop often for a shave, haircut and shoeshine. Here in the barbershop, aided by an array of quirky characters, with a range of different perspectives, three new cases would be presented, discussed and hopefully concluded, given the expertise and dogged resolve of Pignon Scorbion.

Who's your daddy? "I, Pignon Scorbion, your new chief inspector, will take the case on to determine the authenticity or fraud of Mr. Jonathan Betine...possible heir to the Gromley fortune."

Calvin Brown's barbershop had three barber chairs along the left wall. Calvin, along with fellow barbers Barnabus and Yves, and shoeshine man Thomas, readied the shop to conduct interviews. A head table with six chairs behind it and two witness chairs on the opposite side of the table were set up. Young ace reporter, Billy of the Haxford Morning News, would participate in the proceedings. The method, a little unorthodox? Perhaps. In the words of Pignon Scorbion, "we have a paradox...this is the sort of conundrum that I live for and believe that I am singularly equipped to unravel."

Action heats up when a circus comes to town, "setting off a three ring spectacle of deception, detention and deduction." The special circus arrives with a performer attempting to set a new height record for stilt walking. The man who designed and built the giant stilts...dead! "His head had been bashed in and in falling, he collapsed into a mound of animal dung." Will the show go on as planned?

A theft at the home of Dr. Frank Morgan. His prized old American tomahawk, once prominently displayed above the hearth, stolen. A prize winning pig kidnapped. A farmer murdered. Are the cases connected?

Pignon Scorbion is a stickler for detail, from his one of a kind, cobbled shoes to his immaculately tailored suits. Eccentric? Absolutely. What of his trio of amusing "tonsorial artists" he deemed his amateur sleuths? The town drunk was even most observant, as was, the bright and beautiful bookseller.

"Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives" by Rick Bleiweiss is an enjoyable classic British detective novel. A delightful, fun read!

Thank you Blackstone Publishing and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In 1910 chief police inspector Pignon Scorbion arrived in the small English town of Haxford.  Looking for cases that would challenge his abilities, he is presented with three that allow him to display his ability to rationally sift through clues and testimonies to reach a solution.  As a friend of the barbershop’s owner, he uses the establishment to conduct suspects’ interviews and enlists the support of the owner, his staff and an aspiring journalist.  A paternity claim, a murder at a traveling circus and the theft of an artifact and a farmer’s pig provide the challenges that he is looking for.  

Pignon is meticulously dressed, with his distinguishing two-toned shoes.  He was briefly married to a woman that he could not relate to, but one of his cases introduces him to Thelma Smith, an intelligent and independent woman who owns the local bookstore.  He is a contemporary of Hercule Poirot, who he hopes to meet, and he had also befriended Dr. Watson, both of whom have provided inspiration for his methods.  Using the testimonies of his witnesses and suspects, Rick Bleiweiss reveals clues from each interview that advance the investigation, but sometimes  they also contradict previous revelations, giving the reader a chance to solve the crimes along with Pignon, making Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives an entertaining reading experience.  As a bonus, Bleiweiss also gives a sneak peek at a mystery to come.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing this book for my review.
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this book wasn't my cup of tea at all... very silly in my opinion and not very entertaining, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
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I found this cosy and charming and I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it quite as much as I wanted to. It’s designed to slot in around Poirot and Holmes times (with references to both characters) but some how that didn’t quite ring true. Perhaps because I knew it was modern?

I thought the mini mysteries were good, but perhaps not as clever as Holmes as they lacked some depth. There wasn’t that sharp and incredible detecting. And scorpion’s deductions felt either obvious or arrogant as there was know logic behind them (just I know because I’m a detective). There wasn’t that super smart AHA moment.

I also felt it was missing the level of character development that you get in Christie. I thought the detective Pignon Scorpion (great name) was well drawn, although the clothing habits felt a bit too close to Poirot to be truly original. But the suspects and murder victims lacked depth. I didn’t really care who was murdered or who did it or why. Even the barbershop lot were vague and I forgot which was one which. I did quite enjoy the love interest but I wanted more from her.

In all, it was fun. And it was a decent read. But I fear it’s plonked between two greats and fall shorts. Needed either much better character studies, or much cleverer solves. 

A decent read, but I’m not desperate to get the next one (though I would read it if I came across it).
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In Edwardian England, 1910, we meet Pignon Scorbion, newly-appointed chief inspector of the fictional town of Haxford. Asked by newcomer, Jonathan Bentine, to prove a wealthy, retired salesman, Mortimer Gromley, is his father, Pignon utilises the local barbershop, a frequent haunt, as his interview room. Calvin Brown, barbershop owner and long-time friend, is deputized, along with his three employees, to aid in the investigation. No sooner has the case been cleared and Gromley exonerated of an illicit one-off liaison during an out-of-town sales trip (resulting in the scheming Mr. Bentine) than a circus employee is murdered, a prize hog stolen and slaughtered, and the unfortunate animal’s owner found with a tomahawk stuck in his back. Meanwhile Pignon’s new deputies pull out a seemingly endless stream of chairs from the back room, like rabbits from a hat, and invite their growing warren full of interviewees to please sit.

With more than 60 characters listed, 40+ of them playing roles beyond just mentions, this novel could become unwieldy, but Bleiweiss has developed a cleverly convoluted plot full of conundrums into an easily readable page-turning diversion, in which we meet innumerable quirky, off-beat and charmingly peculiar characters. Utilising Occam’s Razor (or KISS, if you like), Pignon works through the evidence step by logical step. A true gentleman and one-of-a-kind investigator, his mannerisms and mode of speech are a delight, harkening back to Christie’s Poirot sojourns, which are currently having a new lease on life.

This is a highly engaging read which will join the ranks of Richard Osman, Anthony Horowitz, and Fred Vargas for the eccentricities and singularly idiosyncratic personages portrayed here. It makes you long for the time when courtesy and respect, even towards potential criminals, was the most important order of the day. Let’s hope Pignon and his distinctive black-and-white shoes will be back soon, or preferably even earlier.
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Personally, if I had the loyalty of a barbershop quartet, I would ask them to follow me around to sing weirdly ironic songs for any situation that I’m in. But I guess that’s where Scorbion and I differ, because he just asks them to solve mysteries with him.

Renowned detective, Pignon Scorbion, has recently moved to the town of Haxford, ready to lift the police force to even greater heights. But any detective worth their salt knows that any kind of movement is bound to be followed by trouble, and sure enough, no sooner has he stepped foot into town is he besieged with requests to uncover whether a local townsman’s fortune is at risk of falling to an unexpected bastard son.

That just marks the first of the mysteries that are plaguing the town. In an unusual move, the novel features not one but three mysteries all solved within 300 pages. But you know somehow all these mysteries are interconnected, even though the crimes and suspects couldn’t be more different.

No crime is a match for a contemporary of Sherlock Holmes and even Hercule Poirot. Indeed, as the detective is in the midst of figuring out his cases, he claims to have been friends with Doctor Watson and met Poirot during his travels. But even so, Scorbian is more reminiscent of Miss Marple with his penchant for sitting and thinking over the crimes within one location.

It’s a very cozy mystery in that sense; there’s no wild chases or attempted murders when one gets too close. Instead, there’s just amicable discussion between Scorbian and his friends as they work through the clues together. If you’re more into mysteries like the Susan Ryland series where there’s more footwork and higher stakes, Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives might be too slow for you.

The obvious nod to the hallmarks of the genre helps to take the pressure off any writer; there’s no need to be the next version of Holmes, Poirot or Kindaichi even if you’re already living in the same world as them.

All the crimes I would say are rather easy to solve—my inability to solve a mystery novel has been well documented over here—and I managed to follow along and even at times beat Scorbion to the conclusion.

However, the most unfortunate part of the novel is that despite Bleiweiss’ attempts to be inclusive—there’s a whole subplot about how independent Scorbion’s love interest is—he falls on some very dated tropes about Indigenous groups towards the end of the story. I can’t specify without giving away some key elements of the story but it’s definitely an unmissable red flag.

On the basis on that last critique, I wouldn’t recommend reading Pignon Scorbion. This might be the second review in a row where I’ve advocated for a sensitivity reader but I definitely think this is an instance where it’s more of a need than a want. Had one been present, the book could have been tied up a lot more neatly.
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Quite honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book...

It is a fun and easy read and contains enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, mysteries! I love all of the unique, misfit characters banding together to help Pignon solve his crimes! That said, I have issues with the language that is used in the dialogs. I felt it is a completely unnecessary addition and I would have given this book more stars had it not been for that.

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for giving me an advance e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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