Monday, December 05, 2005

Book No. 41: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

Another Sherlock Holmes rewrite, Chabon's book is a bit more to my liking than Mitch Cullin's. As in Cullin's book, The Final Solution takes place when Holmes in very old, but this Holmes isn't reflecting on his life; he's engaged in a mystery. The mystery in this case centers around a parrot that spouts numbers in German, the only friend to a young mute Jewish boy who has been rescued to England during WWII. When a lodger in the boy's house turns up dead and the bird vanished, Holmes comes out of retirement to find the bird. The story briefly spends time with a colorful cast of characters (and the story is so short, a novella really, that everything is both brief and perfectly considered) before finally getting around to revealing the actual perpetrator through the perspective of the bird. Little is made of the fact that numbers that the bird spouts are almost definitely either the numbers of the trains carrying Jews to death camps or the numbers tattooed onto murdered Jews. Oh, and Holmes is never identified as such, being simply called "the old man" throughout the book, but his identity is barely a mystery. All in all, an interesting novella. I suspect that it contains metaphorical depths that re-reading would reward, but maybe not.


A fellow in comments to Cullin's book invites viewers to visit his website, in which he inserts himself into the lead role in Doyle's Holmes stories.


gorjus 3:39 PM, December 07, 2005  

As a Holmes and Chabon fan, and as someone who laments the disappearance of illustrated books, I so wanted to adore this slim book.

However, I found it a bit boring, and the illustrations jarring and anachronistic. However, I am going to confine myself to gleeful happiness that we have a modern and intelligent writer consciously trafficking in neglected or mocked genres--detective novels and comics books. I heart Mr. Chabon!

Hayden Childs 12:51 PM, December 09, 2005  

I didn't have very high expectations because I've had mixed reactions to Chabon's work. But I liked this one.

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