Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives introduces a new detective series with Chief Inspector Pignon Scorbion, an Egyptian-Haitian British police officer heading up the police in the small British village of Haxford. His long-time friend happens to own the local barbershop and Pignon likes to meet with the regulars there to conduct his interrogations and investigations.
In this first book of the expected series, Scorbion tackles several local mysteries, including a few murders, finds a love interest, and inspires a nemesis. He manages to do this primarily through interviews at the barbershop. The mysteries are not particularly difficult and readers will likely solve them, too.
I am conflicted by Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives. I am not quite sure the intent of the author, is Scorbion a satiric sendup of the great Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, or is he an homage? I think there is a real need for a Scorbion or some other cozy detective that solves mysteries through questions and thinking alone. I am excited by Scorbion’s existence, hoping that he is going to be that sort of character and this series will produce that sort of mystery. On the other hand, when talking about Scorbion’s fastidious habits, his shoes, his clothes, etc., there is this trace of mockery that makes him feel like he is a mockery of Poirot and the rest. I don’t want a sendup of some of my favorite characters in the world of mystery.
The mysteries themselves are disappointing, mundane, and simplistic. No special detection was needed to solve them. In fact, Scorbion should have twigged to the first and final mystery’s answer long before. The creation of his nemesis is just downright silly. He lets a friend write up his investigations, that’s fine, but someone as smart as he is supposed to be would not go out of his way to make an enemy of a newspaper publisher. That element of the story is just weird.
In the end, I enjoyed the book but occasionally rolled my eyes. When a new series starts on television, the pilot is almost always creaky because of the burden of introducing the characters. I think this book suffered from that problem. In writing, I think even if you plan to write a series, you should always imagine that the first book is a stand-alone and avoid the need to define and explain everyone.
I received a copy of Pignon Scorbion & The Barbershop Detectives from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.