Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives by Rick Bleiweiss
Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives (Blackstone Publishing), Rick Bleiweiss’ new murder mystery, is a whodunit with an unforgettable Police Chief Inspector Pignon Scorbion at its center. In a style reminiscent of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, we enter the fictional town of Haxford in the English countryside, circa 1910, where Pignon (born in Paris), our idiosyncratic inspector, has just arrived in Haxford and is setting up his investigations in the local barbershop. What follows is Scorbion’s talent for detective work, assisted by a group of striking and unique characters, including a young reporter, the barbershop owner and his employees, and an attractive, brilliant female bookshop owner.
We talked with author Rick Bleiweiss about his approach to writing and the legendary influences that went into Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives.
Q: You describe your book as “blending your love of the past with the twisty deliciousness of a whodunit.” How did you come up with the idea to combine these two passions?
A: The way I write is that I see a story play out in my head like a movie and then my job is to sit at my computer and capture it so that a reader sees what I see. Being a huge fan and reader of classic whodunits, especially many that were written and took place in the past, this just came to me one day as a natural extension of what I love reading. I purposefully added real-life historical elements to fictional stories, characters and events.
Q: Your book has been suggested to those who are fans of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Did these legendary fictional detectives serve as inspiration for your book?
A: Absolutely. I have been an avid reader of Poirot and Holmes (and Maigret, etc) my whole life. Once the idea for Scorbion came to me, it felt natural to create a “universe” populated by Poirot, Holmes and Scorbion. There are many significant differences between the three, but many similarities as well, and I’ve tried to emulate some of the writing style and language used in those books. I wanted to create a character who was their equal, but idiosyncratically different.
Q: Tell us a little about the cast of characters in Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives. It’s quite the title for a group of intrepid sleuths!
A: In addition to Scorbion himself, who is quite the fashion plate, Calvin Brown owns the barber shop in which Scorbion and the amateur sleuths interrogate and interview witnesses and suspects. Calvin and Scorbion were friends from an earlier time and town, and reunited when Scorbion came to Haxford to head the town’s police force. Working for Calvin are barbers Yves (French and short — he has to stand on a crate to cut hair) and Barnabus (Welsh, tall, crisp red beard and a stutterer), and shoeshine man Thomas (shy, youngish, not quite as bright as the others). Also a part of the crew are Billy Arthurson, the young reporter for the Haxford Morning News who also chronicles the cases, and Thelma Smith, the brilliant, beautiful, unorthodox local bookstore owner and suffragette who ends up in a relationship with Scorbion. They all work together to help Scorbion solve the murders and other crimes that he has to work out.
Q: What was the most difficult part of the book to write?
A: Getting the time period and the language to be accurate was the hardest part of writing the book. Since the book combines fiction with historically accurate people and events, I had to do a ton of research to make sure that I got everything right — including locations, names that were popular at the time, books that were published that year or earlier, songs that were popular, foods they ate, exactly what the countryside English towns were like and the businesses they had in them, to virtually everything else to make it feel like it was 1910.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A: First and foremost, I hope the book transports readers to a kinder, gentler time and place, and gives them relief from the stresses of today’s society and their daily lives. I’ve tried to write it with humor, colorful quirky characters that people enjoy “meeting,” interesting mysteries that are a challenge to figure out but whose solutions are plausible, and with a sense of time and place. Additionally, I hope it can serve as an introduction to mystery novels for younger YA readers as well. Those I know who have read an advance copy of the book have loved it and asked me for more books in the series.
Q: What’s next for the story of The Pignon Scorbion?
A: I’m currently writing the next Scorbion book which will feature a mystery about a young female magician who does an illusion that even Houdini can’t figure out, yet wherever she goes crime occurs — and when she comes to Haxford to perform at the town’s theater her misdeeds, and robberies, come with her. It’s for Scorbion and the barbershop detectives to determine how she can be in multiple places at the same time. Also, Scorbion’s relationship with Thelma deepens as does her commitment to the suffragette movement, and Faustin Hardcastle continues to try to undermine Scorbion.
Rick Bleiweiss is an author, publishing executive, former music industry executive and GRAMMY-nominated record producer, who is released his first novel, Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives. Bleiweiss started his career as a rock performer and songwriter and then produced over fifty records as a record company senior executive in New York City. He’s worked with music industry legends, including Clive Davis, Melissa Etheridge, the Backstreet Boys, Kiss, U2, Whitney Houston, the BeeGees and many others. Since 2006 as a publishing company executive, Bleiweiss has acquired works by bestselling and award-winning authors including Rex Pickett (Sideways), James Clavell (Shogun), PC Cast (House of Night), Gabriel García Márquez (1982 Nobel Prize in Literature), Leon Uris (Exodus), Natasha Boyd (The Indigo Girl), Andrews & Wilson (Tier One) and Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Hell Divers), among others. For the latest news, follow @rickbleiweissauthor on Instagram and/or visit https://www.rickbleiweiss.com/.
Publish Date: February 8, 2022
Author: Rick Bleiweiss
Page Count: 300 pages
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing