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The Final Solution. A Story of Detection (2004)

by Michael Chabon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5611533,058 (3.39)167
In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year-old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a former detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than 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 grey parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of numbers the bird spews out-a top secret SS code? A Swiss bank account? Or do they hold a far more sinister significance? Though the solution to this case may be beyond the reach of the once-famed sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is revealed in a wrenching resolution.… (more)
  1. 30
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Runkst)
  2. 10
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both inspired by Sherlock Holmes.
  3. 00
    Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman (CGlanovsky)
  4. 00
    Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two stories that intertwine characters from elsewhere with the Holocaust. Both are affecting in their own ways.
  5. 01
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    PghDragonMan: Modern additions to the annals of the greatest detective ever.
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English (147)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (152)
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For more reviews and bookish posts please visit https://www.ManOfLaBook.com

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon is a short detective novel set in England, 1944. Mr. Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, screenwriter, columnist, and short story writer.

Linus Steinman is a young Jewish boy, a German refugee staying with an Anglican priest and his family. The boy has a parrot, Bruno, who constantly rattles off numbers in German. There’s much speculation about the numbers, from a secret military code to nonsense.

Another lodger, Mr. Shane of the British foreign office is found dead, and Bruno the parrot missing. Michael Bellows, the local inspector, asks for help from an old man, a beekeeper and former detective, to find Bruno and help solve the murder.

I have been a fan of the author ever since picking up the fantastic novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I didn’t know it, but this novella is about Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes, even though he’s never mentioned by name.

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon encompasses two mysteries, the murder of Mr. Shane, and the German numbers that Bruno, the parrot, keeps repeating.

The numbers are the real mystery of the book and could have not been ascertained in 1944 England, even by its most famous detective. The other murder mystery is just a convenient way to get the old detective involved, but it’s not difficult to solve the puzzle, even for a schmo like me.

One of the last chapters, from the point of view of Bruno the parrot, was, for me, what has elevated this book. That chapter was Chabon in his element, I only wished we would have gotten another chapter, or two.

The prose is beautiful, and I enjoyed reading the book. At times it seemed as if Mr. Chabon is trying to impress by using big words, for me, however, it worked within the spirit of the book. Unlike many other detective stories, this book attempts to capture much bigger questions about life.

Even though Holmes solves the case he has been assigned to, the haunting story of Linus Steinman is the real emotional kicker. Mr. Chabon expects the reader to do their own detective work and figure out what the numbers signify, which is not difficult. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Nov 17, 2022 |
This book is spectacular.

It is very short, it has illustrations, and it keeps the reader entertained throughout.

This is a story about a small mute Jewish refugee boy and his parrot; a parrot that sings and recites a list of numbers in German.

There is an old man who was once a great detective but who now only wishes to live out his life with his honeybees but who gets tapped to help locate the parrot when it goes missing.

Much like a Sherlock Holmes mystery (in fact, its name is similar to a Holmes mystery: The Final Problem) this intrigue involves detection through intense observation. The old man, who has no name, goes about the investigation along with another detective who at once thinks the old man is full of shit and is the best detective he's ever seen.

There are several things this story does at once: it explores a Holocaust narrative through the mute boy (Linus) and his parrot, and it looks at the horrors of war (the ability to speak or not about what Linus may or may not have seen), the actual horror of Jews being transported to camps (the numbers the parrot recites), and how people react to the choice of the parrot and Linus to speak or not.

All these stories on top of a murder mystery, kidnapping/stolen item mystery make a story worth reading for everyone.

**All thoughts and opinions are my own.** ( )
  The_Literary_Jedi | May 31, 2022 |
Given my love of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, I had high hopes for this little book. While it was cute and a curious concept, it didn't quite rise to the occasion. There were times when the sentence structure was clumsy and the sentences ran too long. I missed the old arrogance of Holmes' final revelation at the end, so to me the ending didn't have the normal wow-factor. I know that he is supposed to be advanced in age, but it just didn't quite feel the same. I still enjoyed it for the fun, fast read that it was, hence the three stars. ( )
  TrojaHousehold | Apr 14, 2022 |
A little gem. Perhaps reader Michael York is partially responsible for my love of this book. ( )
  Martha_Thayer | Jan 13, 2022 |
The Final Solution - Chabon
Audio performance by Michael York
4 stars

I haven’t had much luck with the selections from the Audible Plus Catalog ( audiobooks that are ‘free’ to Audible subscribers). Generally, the catalog is full of less desirable titles by less popular voice actors. This novella was a rare exception. It would be hard to improve on Michael York. Also, I’ve been meaning to read Michael Chabon, anything by Chabon, for a very long time.

Here’s the writing prompt. Write a WW2/halocaust story. Include a geriatric Sherlock Holmes and a parrot. It stretches the imagination. This was a very clever story. The double entendre of the title creates a deeper context for a typical English village mystery. The 90 year old Holmes is uninterested in a recent murder, but he will turn his attention to the missing parrot; the German speaking parrot that belongs to the 9 year old, mute, Jewish refugee. So, there was at least one final solution left in the old man. (With some help from the parrot. I loved the section that was told from the parrot’s perspective.) ( )
  msjudy | Oct 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chabon, Michaelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ryan, JayIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
York, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The distinction's always fine between detection and invention. - Mary Jo Salter
Dedication
To the memory of Amanda Davis, first reader of these pages
First words
A boy with a parrot on his shoulder was walking along the railroad tracks.
Quotations
His gait was dreamy and he swung a daisy as he went. With each step the boy dragged his toes in the rail bed, as if measuring out his journey with careful ruled marks of his shoetops in the gravel. It was midsummer, and there was something about the black hair and pale face of the boy against the green unfurling flag of the downs beyond, the rolling white eye of the daisy, the knobby knees in their short pants, the self-important air of the handsome gray parrot with its savage red tail feather, that charmed the old man as he watched them go by. Charmed him, or aroused his sense – a faculty at one time renowned throughout Europe – of promising anomaly.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year-old man, vaguely recollected by the locals as a former detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than 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 grey parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of numbers the bird spews out-a top secret SS code? A Swiss bank account? Or do they hold a far more sinister significance? Though the solution to this case may be beyond the reach of the once-famed sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is revealed in a wrenching resolution.

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Book description
The Final Solution is a 2004 novel by Michael Chabon. It is a detective story that in many ways pays homage to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and other writers of the genre. The story, set in 1944, revolves around an unnamed 89-year-old long-retired detective (who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes but is always called just "the old man"), now interested mostly in beekeeping, and his quest to find a missing parrot, the only friend of a mute Jewish boy. The title of the novel references Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem," in which Holmes confronts his greatest enemy, Professor Moriarty, at Reichenbach Falls, and the Final Solution, the Nazis' plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.
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