Sunday, July 12, 2009
The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
Protagonist: Sherlock Holmes
Setting: English countryside
If you are expecting another neat Sherlock Holmes story, you may be very disappointed in this tale, which has very little detecting in it. We meet the great detective (always unnamed, just “the old man,” but undeniably Holmes) at the end of his life. Living alone in the English countryside and tending to his beehives, Holmes is lured out of his retirement after he meets a young boy, a survivor of the Nazi camps, and his parrot, who seems to have learned (and retained) some German codes. Soon, the parrot is missing and someone from the household in which they boy lives is dead. Holmes is more concerned with the parrot than the murder, promising the boy he’ll find his pet bird. But the story meanders, with Holmes just about stumbling on the one clue that leads him to the bird thief. He's not so much a great detective in this story, as another old man suffering from dizzy spells and heart problems. As wonderful as Chabon’s writing is -– and his prose is beautiful -– I hated to see the great detective portrayed this way, and the plot was just flat. My recommendation: read an original Arthur Conan Doyle story.