Murder in Haxford

Blackstone Audio. (Pignon Scorbion, Bk. 2). Feb. 2023. 9:16 hrs. ISBN 9781665046459. $19.95. M
Golden-age mystery fans will delight in Bleiweiss’s merry sequel to Pignon Scorbion and the Barbershop Detectives, set in 1910 in an English village. The eccentric and dapper Chief Inspector Scorbion and his unconventional amateur-detective sidekicks conduct numerous meetings at Calvin Brown’s Barbershop to investigate two mysterious deaths. The first involves the crash of a hot-air balloon that contains only one passenger—a man killed by an arrow to the heart. The second death, an apparent poisoning, conveniently hits a loan shark/master forger as he is getting a haircut and a shoeshine at Calvin’s. While the mysteries are twisty enough, it’s Bleiweiss’s wonderfully wacky cast that will charm listeners, especially with the standout characterizations provided by narrator B.J. Harrison. Smoothly switching between accents, Harrison delivers the lively banter so masterfully that listeners will feel they have a seat at the table in these rather bizarre but supremely entertaining barbershop inquests. His portrayal of the budding romance between Scorbion and bookshop owner Thelma Smith is just plain adorable.
VERDICT Harrison’s performance alone is enough to recommend this breezy village mystery to classic mystery fans, especially those who enjoy cozy, character-driven whodunits that don’t take themselves too seriously.
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