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The Final Solution

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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  10,649 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews
In deep retirement in the English countryside, an eighty-nine-year-old man, vaguely recollected by locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot.

What is the meaning of the myste...more
Paperback, 131 pages
Published November 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2004)
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Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay FayeThe House of Silk by Anthony HorowitzThe Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. KingThe Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas MeyerThe Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Luke Benjamen Kuhns
Best Sherlock Holmes Fiction (Pastiches)
16th out of 280 books — 294 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerCornered Coyote by Dianne HarmanThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Detective Fiction
63rd out of 674 books — 756 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Elizabeth
I’m downgrading this to a two and am tempted to give it the damning single star but for the fact that Chabon is such a master of cleverness and has such a huge vocabulary I have to admit some sliver of awe and respect. That’s the failing, too, of this book for me. I looked hard and could find no soul. It read like an exercise, with a few interesting results (an admirable point-of-view-of-the-parrot passage, an attempt to embody the mid-century Britishers’ mannered language and vocabulary). This...more
Pete
I'm a Michael Chabon fan, and that may be surprising considering I have no special interest in his favorite topics: superheroes, homosexuality, Jewishness, and genre fiction. His novella "The Final Solution" hits three out of four if you consider Sherlock Holmes a superhero (or gay), and I enjoyed this one as I enjoy all of Chabon’s work.

Set during WWII, the scene opens with an elderly detective we believe to be Sherlock Holmes (it is implied, but the detective is never named!) He is now retired...more
Jason Pettus
This is one of four newish books I recently read mostly so I could finally get them off my queue list, all of which were actually pretty good but are mere wisps of manuscripts, none of them over 150 pages or so in length. This one is the 2004 Sherlock Holmes tale The Final Solution by literary wunderkind Michael Chabon, like the others published originally as a magazine story (in The Paris Review; in fact, it won the in-house "Aga Khan Prize" in 2004 for being the best story to appear that year...more
barry
To echo the chorus, this book is quite disappointing. I surfed through the book staying aloft solely on its intriguing premise-- Sherlock Holmes (unnamed as such but recognizable just the same) survived Reichenbach Falls to live into the 20th century as a reclusive beekeeper and becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving a parrot spouting cryptic numbers perhaps related to Nazi atrocities. It never delivers on the premise, falling prey to an overly ostentatious writing style that suffocates the...more
Violinknitter
I'm stunned by the number of reviewers on Goodreads that have totally missed the importance of the title of the book, not only as a reference to a Sherlock Holmes story, but to the Holocaust. I'm also pretty upset that the book blurb spoiled much of the ending of the story. Really? Why??????

(view spoiler)...more
[Redacted]
I am between three and four stars on this one. On the four stars side, Chabon is a great stylist and one of the better writers of prose I have read in some time. On the three stars side, there is not much story here. This has the plot of a short story fleshed out (to some degree) to a novella length. Chabon has a way with metaphors and can really turn a phrase. Some of the characters are very well realized though others seem perfunctory. The protagonist, an elderly Sherlock Holmes, though he is...more
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hollie Bush
Last summer I decided that I was going to read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I went to the library and found an extremely large and musty old book that contained every one of the short stories and novels. I spent the next week reading them one by one. As I got closer to the end of the book I found that I was pacing myself so that I wouldn't read them too quickly. I wanted to make the book last, and obviously Doyle wasn't going to be writing any new stories. Doyle is long since gone and Hol...more
Tony
Michael Chabon can do no wrong. The man is utterly entertaining, a great stylist, and he does a great job of taking pulp genres and making high art out of them. In this one, he does so with the Sherlock Holmes-style detective yarn. To my taste, City of Glass does it better, and The Name of the Rose does it smarter. They all come from the literary example of Jorge Luis Borges, I am guessing. This small, entertaining book, set in England against the background of Nazi national psychosis, is worth...more
Northpapers
Michael Chabon is an unapologetic nerd, which is one of the things that makes his work so likeable to me. He wins a Pulitzer Prize for a piece of historical fiction about two friends during the golden age of comics, and follows that audacious victory by writing a piece of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction that's barely long enough to be called a novel. So he publishes it as "A Story of Detection."

Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me. Chabon's gift for long, eloquently crafted sentences and his predil...more
Elliot
Oh, the prose! The prose!!!

Chabon's sentences sumersault across the tongue, his descriptions always just what Billy Collins meant when he wrote, in his poem "Thesaurus":
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem
a small chapel where weddings like these
between perfect strangers, can take place

Every now and then, I had to remind myself to stop drooling all over myself and continue onto the next page. I don't read nearly as much fiction -- c...more
Bryce Wilson
A nice enough read, but still kind of a lark, or as much as anything concerning the holocaust can be.

The idea of a Dark Knight Returns style Holmes is a good one, as is the idea of using him as a metaphor for the more "civilized" Victorian World's incomprehension of the evils of the modern one, with even it's greatest mind unable to wrap his head around just what is going on. After all what's a murderous Pussy Cat have on the systematic extermination of an entire race? It's frankly kind of astou...more
Dillwynia Peter
I feel a bit thick! It never hit me that the detective was Holmes. I thought of him as a Poirot style detective. I truly don't remember Holmes bragging about his exploits like Poirot does, but then I haven't read Conan Doyle for some decades now.

The book is fine,but for me the prose was laboured. I thought it was too clever for the material on hand and that it never flowed. I now get the double (triple) entendre of the title.

I will try Chabon again & hope with more deeper themes with the eru...more
Fabian
Read this some days ago, and the fact that I did just casually slipped my mind...

Yep. It's that un-phenomenal type of lit that was in actuality a contract agreement between lauded Pulitzer-Prize winning author and publishing house. Well, yeah. This fulfills its primary duty indeed: it takes up space in a bookshelf. It is another title to place under the writer's list of titles.

At 131 pages, you know that this will be a clear cut elementary "story of detection" paint-it-by-numbers-type of experie...more
Mitchell
Arthur Conan Doyle kept writing Sherlock Holmes story up until his death in 1930, but usually backdated them chronologically to place them in the detective’s heyday, the 1890s. The final story in the series’ chronological order, “The Last Bow,” takes place in 1914 on the eve of World War I, after which Holmes retires from detecting and takes up beekeeping in the country.

Michael Chabon’s novella The Final Solution takes place in Sussex in 1944, in which an unnamed, octogenarian beekeeper – who on...more
Lormac
This is an elegantly crafted story with marvelous writing. It is just a novella, and you Goodreaders will be able to knock this one off in a night, but the language is so lovely, you may want to savor it a little.

It is a mystery on a couple of levels - a parrot has learned something, the parrot disappears, someone is murdered, someone decides to solve the case. I cannot explain more but each of those four statements sets out a separate mystery. The title gives the readers clues to two of the mys...more
Cheryl
Maybe only 3.5 stars; I can't really decide. It's certainly different from Kavalier & Clay. For one it's about 1/5 the length! A word of advice - don't read this as a page-turning mystery, but rather savor the grace, ideas and characterizations.
Laurie
Brilliant, intense, poetic exploration of a mind beset by great age. Oh yes-the mind is that of Sherlock Holmes.
Yulia
Jun 22, 2013 Yulia marked it as to-read
Shelves: repelled-by
Yikes, awful writing alert. Beep beep.
Stephanie
This delightful mystery novella by Michael Chabon features an unnamed detective, an aged, beak-nosed man of legendary fame throughout the world who is now retired and keeping bees on the Sussex Downs. If this is not enough to identify him to you, perhaps it isn’t that important who he is.

The story revolves around a mute boy—a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany—and his parrot. People are interested in the parrot for numerous reasons, some more sinister than others. There is a murder.

This book is by...more
notgettingenough
I started this just before lunch and finished while having a cup of tea at Cacao's later in the afternoon. So, yes, it's short. And enjoyable. I'm just trying to give myself room to manouevre with the 3 stars. I gave The Yiddish Policeman's Union 5 stars, I have a couple of others of his on the shelf and they might just need something in between. The whole stars thing is like bears eating porridge, hard to get just right.

I don't know if anybody else would agree with me that this is a children's...more
Gretchen
Attention Sherlock Holmes fans -- it turns out that "The Final Solution: A Story of Detection" is actually a Sherlock Holmes story. It takes place when Holmes is an old man, long past his prime and deep into retirement. He accidentally finds himself involved in one last mystery, involving a mute boy and a German speaking parrot. Holmes comes out of retirement to help the boy and uses his famous powers of detection to help solve the mystery/murder.

Like all of Chabon's writing, "The Final Solutio...more
Mike
Nov 26, 2010 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Thia is a brief little book of "novella" length that I found fun and endearing.

I picked it up solely based on the title and was handsomely rewarded for doing so. While I try not to put spoilers in these notes, I will say that a big part of my scoring this a "4" instead of a "3" has to do with one of the characters. The appearance of certain person of detection fame instantly had me into the story. This quite possibly is the oldest age that the character has ever been written into a tale and Chab...more
Christina
It seemed probable to him that in any given grouping of an African grey parrot - a notriously prolix species - and a boy of nine or ten, at any given moment, one or the other of them ought to be talking. (8)

A young mute boy and his parrot, both escaped from Nazi Germany, walks on the railway tracks and attracts the attention of an old man, a former detective. Later, a murder happens and the parrot goes missing, the old man starts helping the police solving the mystery of the missing bird.

The par...more
Jim Elkins
This is "exquisite," as several other reviewers have said. It is skillfully done, it is clever. It is deliberately old fashioned. [return][return]But I think a reader needs to ask: why write such a book? If this is entertaining, then so is the whimsy and cuteness in "Murder, She Wrote" or the delicate fake nostalgia in Merchant and Ivory films. [return][return]Late in his life, someone asked Ezra Pound to write a preface to his first book of poems, published when he was young. The early book was...more
Rauf
Nov 29, 2009 Rauf rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
A short book featuring an eighty-nine year old sleuth who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes. His name is never given. His hobby is bee-keeping. He wears a hunting cap.
Set in London, in the 1940s, it concerns this chatty gray parrot. The parrot's a pet to a mute German boy, Linus Steinman.
The parrot always shouts out these numbers in German. We never know what they meant.
This li'l habit caught the interest of two men: The one who stole the parrot. And the one who killed the one who stole the par...more
Marvin
This was my first book by Chabon and it was the one of two that my friend Chas recommended as a starting point. I must say I enjoy Chabon's style and look forward to reading another. However, I was disappointed with the fairly thin plot and by what I would call a simplistic tribute to the Holmes legacy. Certainly there were times in which the author started to pull other aspects into the story that would have turned this into more than a Sherlockian imitation but I felt they just didn't "take of...more
Jamie
A short novel featuring an aged Sherlock Holmes (although the author coyly avoids naming him) living in retirement, keeping bees, in Sussex in 1944.

His body and mind are failing, but he’s roused to action by the mystery behind a mute 9-yr-old Jewish refugee boy with a pet African gray parrot which recites strings of numbers in German, and which goes missing after a murder.

Since I haven’t read many of the original Holmes stories I’m probably missing some of the subtle tributes to Doyle’s mysterie...more
Marc Williams
This was a very quick and very fun weekend read. I probably would have given it five stars if it was any longer, meatier, or more blatantly a Sherlock Holmes story. As it is, I can guarantee you'll enjoy this one if you are a fan of The BBC's Sherlock, or Elementary, or if you are just a fan of the "Sherlock Holmes" genre (as I am).
Michael
This novella set in rural England in 1944 is a playful vehicle for a gifted prose master to sketch some characters and wind them up for a few spins around the block. The form is of a classic murder mystery in which a retired master sleuth comes out of retirement when it appears the local police are about to railroad the most obvious suspect. Plus, he is sympathetic to a young Jewish refugee boy, who is mute and whose missing parrot is at the center of the case. As part of the writer's tongue-in-...more
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My Apologies To Michael Chabon 1 35 Jul 10, 2013 08:48AM  
Rereading The Final Solution - Any Pointers? 1 26 Jul 03, 2013 08:46AM  
Baker Street Irre...: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon 15 66 Jun 20, 2013 03:56PM  
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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad...more
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Yiddish Policemen's Union Wonder Boys The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Telegraph Avenue

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“Long life wore away everything that was not essential.” 7 likes
“A bitter, disappointed, and jealous man kills the man he believes to be his wife's lover, this you consider to be unlikely. A murderous Nazi spy with orders to abduct a parrot, on the other hand—” 5 likes
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