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The Final Solution

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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  11,394 ratings  ·  1,165 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 Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. KingThe House of Silk by Anthony HorowitzThe Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas MeyerThe Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Luke Benjamen Kuhns
Best Sherlock Holmes Fiction (Pastiches)
14th out of 289 books — 321 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Detective Fiction
65th out of 708 books — 790 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
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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)
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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
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
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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
Kernos
Feb 07, 2015 Kernos rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kernos by: Mike
What would you think of a grumpy, retired octogenarian detective living in his hermitage in Sussex during the final years of WWII keeping bees, and a protagonist of a very short mystery called 'The Final Solution' about a missing African Grey? Clues are legion throughout this little gem. If you were alive and aware in the 20th century, you should figure out this puzzle ;-)

The language is astounding as usual for Chabon. The style "an expert piece of literary ventriloquism" (via The Village Voice)
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Ed [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
Carol Brill
What to say about this strange little story about an old detective who comes out of retirement, a mute boy, and a talking parrot?The writing is sophisticated and creates a tone that for me is reminiscent of A Confederacy of Dunces. A quick read even if it isn't my taste. My favorite part is near the end and told from the point of view of Bruno the parrot. Go figure!
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
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
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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
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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
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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
Jenny (adultishbooks)
I haven't read Michael Chabon before and this was not a good intro for me.

I found his writing style too verbose, the mystery too simple, and the characters flat. The only reason it got two stars is being there was a German-speaking parrot. I have a soft spot for German-speaking parrots. Don't ask me why.
Saúl
Empiezo a pensar que leo a M. Chabon, más que por sus historias, son por sus continuas comparaciones y descripciones.
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
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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
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Jean
This is a short book, at 131 pages, but is not as quick a read as that might imply. The writing is dense and beautiful and requires lingering over and, often, re-reading. Example: "The bees did speak to him, after a fashion. The featureless drone, the sonic blank that others heard was to him a shifting narrative, rich, inflected, variable, and distinct as the separate stones of a featureless gray shingle...." Gorgeous! The cover copy includes a Washington Post quote: "Chabon writes with plummy l ...more
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.
David Ranney
While he crawled on hands and knees the possibility of his dying thus recurred to him, and he found to his pleasure that no shadow of indignity darkened the prospect. Long life wore away everything that was not essential. Some old men finished their lives as little more than the sum total of their memories, others as nothing but a pair of grasping pincers, or a set of biter axioms proven. It would please him well enough to amount to no more in the end than a single great organ of detection, rea
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Wendy
Set in a small town in England during 1944, a young boy with an African Gray parrot on his shoulder passes by an elderly retired detective turned beekeeper. The 9 year old boy appears to be mute. His bird is a mystery, spouting numbers in German, sometimes singing songs and making the occasional comment. A boarder at the minister's house is found dead, the minister's son charged with the crime, and the parrot is missing. The police are sure they have the right man, but turn to the old detective ...more
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Something Old, So...: January 2015 - The Final Solution by Michael Chabon 5 7 Jan 09, 2015 05:56AM  
My Apologies To Michael Chabon 1 38 Jul 10, 2013 08:48AM  
Rereading The Final Solution - Any Pointers? 1 29 Jul 03, 2013 08:46AM  
Baker Street Irre...: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon 15 67 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
More about Michael Chabon...
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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