cover image Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives

Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives

Rick Bleiweiss. Blackstone, $26.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-6650-4675-6

Set in 1910 England, Bleiweiss’s entertaining debut introduces Chief Police Insp. Pignon Scorbion, who’s newly stationed in the small town of Haxford, where he renews his friendship with barber Calvin Brown. While getting his hair cut, Scorbion learns that a young man named Jonathan Bentine has appeared out of the blue to claim that retired linen merchant Mortimer Gromley fathered him out of wedlock. That shocking accusation naturally disrupts the Gromley household, and Scorbion chooses to resolve the question from his chair in Brown’s establishment, turning the barbershop into his temporary office. Other mysteries follow, including the murder of a man who built stilts for a circus act. The barbershop’s customers and employees help investigate. A few false notes, such as Scorbion befriending Dr. Watson at “a meeting that paired those engaged in the art of detection with practitioners of witchcraft,” a gathering Sherlock Holmes’s colleague would be unlikely to attend, scarcely matter. Bleiweiss does a solid job of establishing his lead as a well-rounded character capable of sustaining a series. Golden age fans appreciative of a light approach to traditional tropes will be eager for a sequel. Agent: Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency. (Feb.)