An Interview with Pignon Scorbion from the novel by Rick Bleiweiss

This article originally appeared in the Morning News in Haxford, England on Thursday, June 30, 1910.

An Interview with Pignon Scorbion By Billy Arthurson

PIGNON SCORBION & THE BARBERSHOP DETECTIVES [Blackstone Publishing; February 8, 2022; hardcover]

Our Chief Police Inspector, Pignon Scorbion, has been in town for just under two fortnights, yet in that short amount of time he has solved three baffling mysteries and apprehended the criminals responsible for those misdeeds. He has achieved near instantaneous recognition and celebrity with Haxford’s residents for both his prowess in solving difficult crimes and for his bespoke colorful linen suits and unique custom-made black and white shoes. I met with him recently to learn more about his background, his methods, and his unconventionality. 

Chief Inspector, you cut quite the arresting figure around town. I wonder if you’d tell me about your attire.

I find that the clothing worn in England in this day and age by the male members of our population is rather tedious and dull, with the hues of the garments they sport being drab and generally uninspired. It is not surprising to me that it is so, as the coloration of mammalian animals in general lack bright colors thereby allowing them to blend into their environment and be less prone to being observed and attacked. I, on the other hand, have no issue at all standing apart from the masses. I welcome being distinguished from the commonplace and the rabble as I find it to be beneficial that the good citizens whose existences that I safeguard can easily detect my presence.

            My suits are fashioned by one of the finest couturiers in our fair land who has precisely followed my instructions to a fault in using only the finest linens and wools, tailoring them to fit me in a manner that leaves little gap between the fabric and my skin, and utilizing colorations that do set me apart when I am out and about. Each pair of the black and white shoes that I have now been sporting for well over two decades are crafted by an exceptional souter in Liverpool whose singular abilities, I am certain, will one day be recognized throughout the land and doubtless beyond the Continent. 

I have at times been referred to as a fashion plate, and I vastly prefer that designation over being described as one who sports dowdy or uninspired clothing. Most fortunately, because of the athletics that I regularly participated in until quite recently, my frame can still support a close-fitting style of a wardrobe without it appearing to be inappropriate for a gentleman of my years.

Where did your tendency to be unconventional stem from?

            That trait that was handed down to me by both my mater and my pater, although more so from the latter. Father did not conform to the norms of his times, and never allowed the scorn or derision of others to influence his decisions or actions. While he was initially ridiculed for the venture that that he initiated in which he hired out dromedaries to those wishing to traverse Egypt’s desert sands, he persevered in his belief that such an enterprise would be profitable and was proven correct. The same can be said for his excursions into the selling of chocolates and sailing from his native country to the lands at the far shores across the Atlantic Ocean. He never embraced the ordinary, nor shirked from taking risks. He was an individualist and through and through.

            Mother was not quite as bold as he, but for all the years that I spent domiciled in their abode, she stressed upon me the importance of one thinking for themselves and espoused the belief that an individual need not conform to the commonplace to succeed in their life. She, like Thelma Smith, attired herself in costumes unlike those that the vast majority of her female contemporaries had clothed themselves in. She implanted in me the beauty of individuality and the richness of expressing the distinctiveness of one’s persona. 

You are obviously quite skilled at detecting and solving complex enigmas. Have you ever been contacted to do so for Scotland Yard, especially now that they are in their new quarters and have expanded their force?

            Rather than residing in our capital city, I much prefer the essence of the English countryside where the air is fresher, the people less jaded, and where I can devote greater attention to fewer crimes. It is in this environment that I am able to have more of an impact on, and truly better safeguard, the residents who I am sworn to protect. Additionally, as you have already observed, I am an individualist, and that is not a trait that sits well with, or is encouraged by, the Met.

            I have been asked to assist, and lend my singular talents in observation and deduction, to investigations that were conducted by the Yard, both when I was but a constable in Chamfield and in my last chief inspector position prior to locating in Haxford, and I did so with productive results in both instances. However, my interest lies in serving the citizens of lesser-populated hamlets and towns than the major metropolises of our country.

            Additionally, having now been reunited with Calvin Brown and greatly enjoying the company of the enchanting Miss Thelma Smith, I am rather pleased with my current situation in this locale, and envision myself remaining here for quite an extended period. After all, where else would I find such an interesting and capable group of associates as assist me in the barbershop?  And, lastly, I would be remiss if I did not also comment on the pleasure I derive from your presence and the support and benefits I receive from your excellent chronicling, Billy Arthurson.

You have mentioned to me in a prior conversation that you regularly travel to London to attend the theatre. What type of performances do you most prefer?

            I have a penchant for ones that contain music, first and foremost. That was fostered on me by my parents, as it was a passion of theirs, and I was initially captivated by that style of theatre by their gift to me on the occasion of my twelfth birthday. They brought me to an early performance of the marvelous HMS Pinafore by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The music, the scenery, the environment, and the staging were unlike anything I had witnessed up to that point in my life, and it left me with a hunger to have that experience on a more regular basis.

            Since that time, I have attended every major production of the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, with The Mikado, being the one I treasure the most. Others that I cherish are Clarke and Slaughter’s Alice in Wonderland, Monckton and Talbot’s The Arcadians, and The Proflgate, which I attended at the very opening of the Garrick Theatre. I do also attend and enjoy – albeit to a lesser degree – those plays that are bereft of a score, with my singular favorite being The Importance of Being Ernest by that great dramatist, Oscar Wilde. 

Do you keep any animals as pets?

            While I would enjoy the companionship of a foxhound, beagle, or a paisley or bull terrier, the hours I keep, and the daily routine of my position are not conducive to maintaining a tail-wagger. Felines have never truly appealed to me as I possess more than enough independence for one household, and other manner of fish, amphibians or warm-blooded creatures do not inspire me to possess one as an accompaniment to my life. Possibly at such time as I no longer am active on the force, I might consider augmenting my existence and quarters with a four-legged, obedient friend.

When you are not engaged in enforcing our laws, what diversions do you enjoy?

            I do rather enjoy a fine brandy, as does Calvin Brown I might add, and I engage in a game of chess whenever Arnold Hill and I have schedules with matching periods of inactivity – which is much too infrequently. My former spouse, Katherine, provided me with an appreciation of art, especially paintings done in oils, and as a younger lad I was an accomplished hooker in the sport of rugby.  I consume as many books as I am able on as many varied subjects as I can find – and in that regard, Miss Smith’s bookshop is a treasure trove – and lastly, I do particularly relish a well-cooked repast, especially a succulent Yorkshire Pudding and hearty Sunday Roast.

Rick Bleiweiss started his career in music as a rock performer, producer of over fifty records, songwriter, and record company senior executive, and worked with Clive Davis, Melissa Etheridge, the Backstreet Boys, Kiss, U2, Whitney Houston, the BeeGees, and other industry legends  

Since 2006 as a publishing company executive, he has acquired works by bestselling and award-winning authors including James Clavell, Gabriel García Márquez, Rex Pickett, Leon Uris, and Nicholas Sansbury Smith, among others.  

In his latest creative endeavor, Rick has crafted the Pignon Scorbion historical mystery series—blending his love of the past with the twisty deliciousness of a whodunit. 

Follow Rick and Scorbion at