I enjoyed Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh when it burst on the literary scene in the 1980s.
I discovered something important reading The Final Solution that Michael and I share. We are both holmesophiles. That is we share a passion for the Sherlock Holmes stories.
The Final Solution title evokes the famous Holmes story “The Seven Percent Solution.”
In the English countryside is a brilliant retired eighty-nine years old detective who is also a beekeeper. The unnamed detective happens to use a magnifying glass. The eighty-nine year old detective is in a league above the local police. It is through the vivid detective’s eyes that we see all the elements of an impossible to stop reading whodunit. Let’s call the detective Holmes.
Set in 1944 a mute Jewish boy, Linus, a refugee from Nazi Germany, is a deep presence and the most vivid character, outside of Holmes, despite never speaking. Linus’s close companion is an extraordinary African parrot, named Bruno, that reels off numbers that appear to be the key to something because people are starting to die for the bird. And the parrot has disappeared.
The writing is vivid and sharp. The characters voices are authentic and each is easy to visualize.
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon reminded me of the best of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I couldn’t wait to find out what the numbers meant and who did what to whom in the dramatic conclusion. Unfortunately I did not feel fully satisfied. The mystery is resolved. We do know who killed who. But the ending left me with questions. You should judge for yourself. It’s worth the effort to get there.
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