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Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

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Member Reviews

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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As for cozy and mystery, this story was great. I loved the words he used. I actually had to look up two!! The characters were wonderful. It took me more than half way through to keep them all in my head. Since this sounds like a series, he will have more time to flush out the characters.
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Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives, the title tells it all. The chief inspector, new to the small city of Haxford in 1910, has an unusual name and unusual detecting style. An old friend who owns the barbershop welcomes Pignon, fancy dresser with two-toned shoes, and introduces the barbershop regulars. Scorbion explains to them that he took the Inspector position to find cases challenging enough for his (great) talents, and promises to explain the derivation of his name later. No sooner said than a citizen enters who wants Pignon to stop an outsider from claiming he is the heir to the citizen's estate.

Thus begins a series of three connected mysteries by Rick Bleiweiss, all solved in the barbershop by the uncanny intelligence of the formidable Scorbion with help from his “tonsorial” sleuths. For my taste, the mysteries were intriguing and well-plotted, but the secondary characters seemed one-dimensional, and Pignon Scorbion wasn't reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot (though he claims friendship with Dr. Watson and hopes to consult with Poirot). I imagined Scorbion as the Poirot played by Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express, the over-the-top, self-conceited part.

The dialogue seemed made for the screen; now that I think about it, the whole of the novel would do much better on the screen with actors who can pull off the quirky characterizations and add depth to the dialogue.
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As this book has been compared to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, I had very high hopes. Unfortunately, I only made it about 30% through before I had to stop. I think the story had promise but I was continuously put-off by Scorbion and even more so by the dialogue. The dialogue felt too forced and inauthentic. 

I will not be writing a review of this book on my Instagram or blog as I don't think it's fair to review a book I did not finish. I wish the author the best of luck!
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A fun lighthearted mystery read that keeps you guessing as well as light laughter within the texts. I would recommend this to anyone looking to get out of a reading slump and back into a fun environment.
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The quiet town of Haxford, England, has a new Chief Detective Inspector. It’s 1910, only a few years before the upheaval of WWI will change England forever, and sleepy Haxford is much as it has been for centuries. So the Inspector, Pignon Scorbion,  causes quite a stir in the town with his odd name, uncertain origins, and dapper attire. Good Heavens, two-tone shoes! The Inspector does have one friend in the city, however. The proprietor of the local barbershop is an old friend, and Scorbion quickly makes the shop his unofficial headquarters. The employees and patrons are happy to provide him with the local background. Scorbion quickly immerses himself in three cases, the first being a young man presenting himself as the heir to a wealthy landowner, though illegitimate. The second case is a stolen pig, and the third is murder. The issues seem unrelated, but as Scorbion interviews the principals, he suspects a connection. Helping him with his interviews are the denizens of the barbershop and the brilliant and attractive Thelma Smith. Scorbion is wary of any involvement, having suffered an unhappy marriage, but Thelma might change his mind.

Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detective is very much a homage to Agatha Christies Poirot, and Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes, written in the sort of Edwardian English one would expect from them. Rick Bleiweiss has added quirky characters and charm to the mix.

Thanks to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
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The setting is a rural town in England in the early 1900's. Haxford has a new chief in their police department, and he is quite the dresser, and his shoes are given quite a bit of attention. Still there are mysteries here, and Chief Pignon Scorbion enlists the aid of those in the local barbershop to help him with the crimes. Similar to Hercule Poirot (who also had a bit of vanity concerning his appearance) he depends heavily on interviews with suspects during his investigation. He then uses the deductive reasoning a la Sherlock Holmes to bring the cases to a successful conclusion.
This is a pleasant read, and the incidents being related are interesting. There are a few cases here (a death involving a traveling circus, a would-be heir searching for his father, a few too many deaths surrounding one particular resident), and all are solved in the confines of the barbershop. It's an interesting ensemble cast of characters, and instead of the classic standard of bringing suspects together in a drawing room, they are brought to the barbershop.
This book also has a budding love interest between Pignon and the local bookseller. We'll see how that plays out in future books in the series.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've heard about this nook before and it seemed interesting but was a little skeptical about it. I requested an ARC and well, this book felt familiar but also new. I loved all the different cases. I wish some of them would have been longer. I felt I was reading short stories which is not a bad thing but again, wish some of the stories would have been longer. I can see the similarities betw Sherlock and Hercule.
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This book took me back.It was a nice trip back to the Silver Age of Mysterys; the Agatha Christie. and the Sherlock Holmes days. A very enjoyable read. I liked the author's writing style and the mystery was well done.

If you are a Christie fan and have been longing for that genre this is the book for you. The  1st in hopefully a long series.
I'd like to thank NetGalley. the author and Blackstone Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book which publishes on February 2. 2022
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A new detective attempting to emulate Holmes and Poirot but comes across as a show off.  Much time is spent explaining how great he is to his supposed assistants.
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I generally love a cozy murder mystery, but this one did not quite do it for me.
I greatly enjoyed the mysteries themselves and the process of solving them was super fun, but I didn't love Pignon. I found his arrogance a little annoying, to be honest. I also didn't love all.of the characters who helped him at the Barbershop, which I think took away from my appreciation of the novel.
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this. was so cute. this truly might be my favorite arc i’ve read all year so as always, no spoilers!! i’ve never read a contemporary mystery book that imitates a class mystery so we’ll. pignon and his barbershop detectives are lovely because of how small-town they feel, yet how sharp they are. i love that pignon isn’t a perfect detective, but he works hard at it. yves and barnabus were my favorites, their banter was off the charts and i hope that they become a couple in the future! the vignettes are charming and every mystery really drew me in. can’t wait for the next book!
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I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
The year is 1910, and in the small and seemingly sleepy English municipality of Haxford, there’s a new chief police inspector. At first, the dapper and unflappable Pignon Scorbion strikes something of an odd figure among the locals, who don’t see a need for such an exacting investigator. But it isn’t long before Haxford finds itself very much in need of a detective.

Luckily, Scorbion and the local barber are old acquaintances, and the barbershop employs a cast of memorable characters who—together with an aspiring young ace reporter for the local Morning News—are nothing less than enthralled by the enigmatic new chief police inspector. 

Investigating a trio of crimes whose origins span three continents and half a century, Pignon Scorbion and his “tonsorial sleuths” interview a parade of interested parties, but with every apparent clue, new surprises come to light. And just as it seems nothing can derail Scorbion’s cool head and almost unerring nose for deduction, in walks Thelma Smith—dazzling, whip-smart, and newly single.  (Goodreads synopsis)
I have not read anything by Rick Bleiweiss prior to this.
I normally love mysteries. Unfortunately this one was unable to capture my attention. I didn’t like Pignon, or really any of the other characters, but I didn’t dislike them either. I was very indifferent to them all. Normally, I would be trying to figure out the ending or be on tether-hooks hoping that the detective’s explanation feels like magic. In Pignon’s case, I couldn’t understand how he solved anything, because he didn’t do anything. He talked to people. Even Poirot, who believed in the ‘little grey cells’ traveled at the very least. But Pignon wasn’t described as doing that. 

I loved the idea of the barbershop detectives, but almost wonder if conducting the investigation in said barbershop became too much of the focal point. I felt that the barbers become more of a jury being presented a case, as opposed to amateur detectives.

As for the mysteries, I felt that they were described too quickly. Three investigations in one novel seems like too much. In fact, one of them I felt could have been it’s own separate novel, and I was disappointed at its expediency. I will say, though, that I was not disappointed in the conclusions of any of the mysteries. I thought they were well thought out, and interesting. I just wish there had been more oomph.  
Overall I rate this novel 3 out of 5 stars. I would be interested in reading a second novel by Rick Bleiweiss, if only to see how the characters develop.
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