The Final Solution
4th Estate, November, 2004.
Hardcover, 131 pages.
In 1944 England, most of the country's young men are at war. In a small village lives "the old man," an 89 year-old retired detective who keeps bees and matches in all respects the descriptions of the legendary Sherlock Holmes (who as we all know retired to Sussex to concentrate on his beekeeping). When a visitor to the village turns up dead, the local authorities call in the old man to assist with the puzzling crime. The detective is fascinated by a mysterious nine year-old German refugee named Lucas. Lucas is is mute and has a pet parrot which speaks German. Mostly, the parrot just spews out a bewildering array of numbers. Could it be a code? Could national security be involved somehow? Holmes has his work cut out for him.
This delightfully odd story was originally published as a novella in The Paris Review. Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, plays coy with the identity of the detective; he never comes out and says the detective is, indeed, Sherlock Holmes. This cerebral mystery and character portrait, with haunting description of London during the Blitz and life in a small English village, merely whets the appetite for a new full-length novel from the talented Mr. Chabon.
--Claire E. White
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This review was published in the January-February, 2005 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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