Monday, July 31, 2006

The Final Solution - Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon's The Final Solution features an unnamed elderly man, once famous for his detection abilities. The great detective is 89 years old, retired, and happy simply to take care of his bees. The book is set in 1944 and one day the old man encounters a boy with a parrot. The boy is a mute, a Jewish refugee from Germany, and the parrot is bilingual and frequently repeats a string of numbers, in German. When a man is murdered at the vicarage where the boy is lodging and the parrot disappears, the old man is called upon to assist in solving the murder. He, however, is more interested in reuniting the distraught boy with his parrot. Chabon presents an aging version of Sherlock Holmes who is hampered by his age and almost at the end of his life; juxtaposed against this characterisation is the life of a small boy who is still in the early stages of his life, set against a backdrop of the evils of Nazi Germany and its "final solution".

I've never read a Sherlock Holmes novel (though I've read most of the other great British detectives), and I doubt this book will persuade me to read any of them now, but I do feel more sympathy for "the great man" than I ever did before.


Jude said...

Not read this, Michele, but am a fan of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories; they're alright as long as you don't take them too seriously, but then I did like Nancy Drew as a child.

Michele said...

Interesting - I never got around to reading Nancy Drew as a child - I sometimes wonder what all the fuss is about (but I've not wondered enough to borrow any from the library !)