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The Final Solution: A Story of Detection

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  13,740 Ratings  ·  1,454 Reviews
Retired to the English countryside, an eighty-nine-year-old man, rumored to be 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 mysterious strings of German number ...more
Audio CD, Abridged
Published January 1st 2005 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published November 9th 2004)
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Violet wells
In which Michael Chabon resurrects Sherlock Holmes.

The Final Solution is set in England in 1944. It begins with an eighty-year old bee keeper who sees a young boy with a parrot on his shoulder walking alongside train tracks. How much menacing power the word train evokes in a 1940s setting is brilliantly conjured up in this image. We quickly discover this boy is a Jewish refugee and refuses to speak. His parrot however does speak. It recites sequences of German numbers. Some think these are Nazi
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I have a copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I that has sat on my bookshelf for at least half of my life. I have never opened it, nor read anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

And that's why I was so utterly ignorant that this was Michael Chabon's (SHAY-bon's) nod to his first favorite writer, Doyle, and his first favorite love of Sherlock Holmes.

Turns out, the old man in this novel is an 89-year-old Holmes, circa 1944, pulled out of retirement and beekeeping by the current authorities, t
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this some days ago & the very fact that I did really just pretty casually slipped my mind...

Yep. It's that unphenomenal 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 on 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-numb
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
My first Chabon
Not the last

Loved the writing style. Reads like a treaty from a bygone age. Crisp language. Complicated. Beautiful.

A homage to the father of detectives and most definitely Chabonesque
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
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
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon reading this book, I realized that without Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t amount to much.

This story, one of many spin-offs of the Sherlock Holmes literary legacy, is set in 1944, when the legendary detective is 89 years old, still sharp as a tack, still inhaling an extraordinary amount of tobacco, but creaking a bit at the bones. England is at war, and Holmes is now a bee-keeper having retired from his profession as a consulting detective. There is a murder at the vicarage (sounds like
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Bill 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)
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
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, intense, poetic exploration of a mind beset by great age. Oh yes-the mind is that of Sherlock Holmes.
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
While I did enjoy the read, I feel that this story deserves a full length novel. Chabon only scratches the top of the surface around this one.
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Is Entertainment a Reason to Write?

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? Chabon has said he reads "for entertainment," and writes "to entertain. Period." 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. Chabon has also said his experiments in genre are ant
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
Ivonne Rovira
While I enjoyed The Final Solution, it’s not really a novella written for me — not at this stage in my life. The title refers, yes, to the solving of a murder, but, what with the setting and characters, one can’t help also think of that other Final Solution. But what the theme of the book is, I could not say. Like Ulysses, I’m certain that I would have appreciated the book much, much more if I had read it for a graduate-level English class, as I did James Joyce’s masterpiece.

It’s 1944, and 9-yea
Ed [Redacted]
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
John of Canada
I didn't even realize who the old man was until I read some of the Goodreads ratings.The parrot,towards the end reminded me of the fetus in the book Nutshell.Good writing and a very nice resolution.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very rewarding and beautifully-written book. There's a beginning, middle and end - but the plot's sufficiently ambiguous to allow for your own interpretation. And note that Chabon carefully calls this A Story of Detection, not A Detective Story: for all there's a murder, it's the least important part of the story.

When, in 1944, an elderly bee-keeping Sherlock Holmes is drawn into a Murder at the Vicarage, he's less interested in the murder than in the simultaneous disappearance of a singularl
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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.” 10 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.” 6 likes
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