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The Final Solution

3.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,445 Ratings  ·  1,281 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
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)
13th out of 304 books — 363 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
66th out of 768 books — 903 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 27, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing
When Michael's wife came to town to speak, on her new book, "Love and Treasure", I finally read, Michael's small book ...."The final Solution"...which I had on my shelf forever. (it can be read in a hour).
I've met both Michael and Ayelet several times --as they are both great voices here in the Bay Area and in the Jewish Community.

The charm of this book was that the old man seem to be able to see himself through the young mute child. The parrot is interesting in this story -as it 'seems' to ca
Jul 14, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
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
Apr 02, 2016 Connie rated it really liked it
An African gray parrot recites strings of numbers in German. The parrot came over to Sussex with a young mute Jewish boy escaping from Nazi Germany. Do these numbers have military significance, or do they have a different meaning? When a man is murdered and the parrot is stolen, an unnamed older retired detective takes time off from his beekeeping activities to solve the crime. Under his gruff exterior, the sleuth's kind heart has been touched by this boy who has lost his parrot, his closest com ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Violinknitter rated it really liked it
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)
Nov 24, 2008 Pete rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2007 barry rated it it was ok
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
Dec 19, 2012 John rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Pettus
May 03, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it liked it
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
Jan 13, 2011 Northpapers rated it it was ok
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
Hollie Bush
Mar 29, 2009 Hollie Bush rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 07, 2015 Kernos rated it it was amazing  ·  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)
Jul 27, 2014 Mitchell rated it really liked it
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
Jim Elkins
Apr 15, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it did not like it
Shelves: american
This is "exquisite," as several other reviewers have said. It is skillfully done, it is clever. It is deliberately old fashioned.

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.

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 called "A lume spento" -- the p
Ed [Redacted]
Apr 16, 2012 Ed [Redacted] rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
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
Dec 20, 2014 Carol Brill rated it liked it
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!
It's official, I've entered senility. Read this book without realizing I'd read it already just 3 YEARS AGO!!! I'm done for. Packing it in.

Very short book - a novella? Decent writing. Could've completely done without any reference to Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock was always a mystery, someone seen from the outside, so reading his thoughts is neither comfortable or believable. I realized that I did not want to know what he was thinking! The story itself, though, was good. My favorite part wa
Jan 27, 2008 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
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
Dec 08, 2015 Andrew rated it it was ok
Chabon does an excellent imitation of Arthur Conan Doyle's prose, and he fills this novella with clever allusions to classic Holmes stories. Otherwise, this book doesn't really have a reason to exist. The mystery is not particularly clever, and I don't believe Chabon has anything interesting to say about the character of Sherlock Holmes. And Chabon definitely has nothing interesting to say about the Holocaust. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union approa ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, intense, poetic exploration of a mind beset by great age. Oh yes-the mind is that of Sherlock Holmes.
Nov 26, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
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
Bryce Wilson
Mar 06, 2008 Bryce Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
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
Dillwynia Peter
Apr 11, 2013 Dillwynia Peter rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2015 Saúl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Empiezo a pensar que leo a M. Chabon, más que por sus historias, son por sus continuas comparaciones y descripciones.
Aug 19, 2015 Michael rated it it was ok
Reads like young adult fiction. A weak homage to Doyle's Sherlock. It is fluff, using the the scourge of the holocaust for emotional buoyancy, a device, it seems, used to artificially heighten the dramatic significance of a story that feels too thin, like more of a treatment than a complete book, a novella wishing it were a novel. The reveal is touching, chilling, yet strangely, disappointing. It's Chabon's voice that carries this story, his use of language.

I generally like it when writers defy
Aug 25, 2014 Fabian rated it liked it
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
Emily Green
In Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution, an aging and retired detective is approached with the strange case of a missing parrot. The detective, now aging to the point of failing health and separated from most of society, the detective finds the mystery a nice escape from his bees, though he does love his apiary.

While the detective is intellectually stimulated by his investigations, those around him are going through daily dramas, such as Mr. Panicker, the owner of a boarding house and the reside
Oct 04, 2014 Lormac rated it really liked it
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
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.
Daniel Sanchez
Nov 18, 2015 Daniel Sanchez rated it liked it
Got this one from a Little Free Library in Berkeley. I had seen Chabon's name in many libraries around here but had never heard about him in Europe. And then I found out he actually lives in Berkeley! Maybe he left it there :)

Despite it saying in the back cover "he is the coolest writer in America", I think I have yet to read more books by him to see how much truth (or not) there is in this assertion. I found it difficult at first to understand all of his sentences. This was due to how long they
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Something Old, So...: January 2015 - The Final Solution by Michael Chabon 5 12 Jan 09, 2015 05:56AM  
My Apologies To Michael Chabon 1 44 Jul 10, 2013 08:48AM  
Rereading The Final Solution - Any Pointers? 1 31 Jul 03, 2013 08:46AM  
Baker Street Irre...: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon 15 75 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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“Long life wore away everything that was not essential.” 8 likes
“A delicate, inexorable lattice of inferences began to assemble themselves, like a crystal, in the old man's mind, shivering, catching the light in glints and surmises.” 4 likes
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