A brilliant reworking of the detective story by the much-acclaimed Michael Chabon, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY.
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’, Michael Chabon conjured up the golden age of comic books, intertwining history, legend and storytelling verve. In ‘The Final Solution’ he has crafted a short, suspenseful tale of compassion and wit that reimagines the classic 19th-century detective story.
In deep retirement in the English countryside, an 89-year-old man, vaguely remembered by locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with other people. 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 German numbers the bird spews out – a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts perhaps? Or something more sinister? Is the solution to this last case – the real explanation of the mysterious boy and his parrot – beyond even the reach of the once-famed sleuth?
Subtle revelations lead the reader to a wrenching resolution. This brilliant homage is the work of a master storyteller at the height of his powers.
‘It takes a steady hand to appropriate the world's most famous detective, but Chabon has chutzpah to spare.' Independent
‘Chabon gives the reader a tantalising taste of what he's capable of.' Andrew Roberts, New Statesman
‘Chabon’s gift as a writer is the fatal facility to make anything pleasant in the telling, and “The Final Solution” is further evidence of that talent.’ Daily Telegraph
‘His thoughtful, intricate prose pays handsome tribute to all those ‘tec stories and sleuth yarns…“The Final Solution” is an evocation of the addictive properties of detection and an elegy for its glory days.’ Word Magazine
‘On par with the best, most tightly written sections of Chabon's last novel, the marvelous “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”…exceptional.’ New York Times Book Review
‘One of the best-written American novels published this fall… an experiment by a master.’ The New York Sun
About the author
Michael Chabon is the author of two collections of short stories, ‘A Model World’ and ‘Werewolves in their Youth’, the novels ‘The Mysteries of Pittsburgh’, ‘Wonder Boys’, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’, ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ and ‘Telegraph Avenue’, and the non-fiction books ‘Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs’. ‘Wonder Boys’ has been made into a film starring Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. and ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and their four children.
Initially published in the Paris Review in 2003, Chabon's first significant adult fiction since his Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) continues his sophisticated, if here somewhat skewed, appropriation of pop artifacts in this case one of the greatest pop artifacts of all, Sherlock Holmes. As fans of the great detective know, after retirement Holmes moved from London to Sussex, where he spent his days keeping bees. Chabon's story takes place during WWII, when Holmes is 89 and intent on bee-keeping only until a mysterious boy wanders into town. The boy is remarkable for two reasons: he's clearly intelligent but is mute, and he keeps a parrot that mouths, among other utterances, numbers in German. When the parrot is stolen, local cops turn to Holmes, and he's intrigued enough to dust off his magnifying glass and go to work. The writing here is taut and polished, and Chabon's characters and depictions of English country life are spot on. It's notable, though, that Chabon refers to Holmes never by name but persistently as "the old man" notable because it's difficult to discern a reason other than self-conscious artistry not to name Holmes; the scenes in the novel that grip the strongest are those that feature Holmes, and more credit is due to Conan Doyle than to Chabon for that. Neither a proper mystery nor particularly fine literature, this haunting novella, for all its strengths, lies uneasily between the two and will fully please few fans of each.