Customer Reviews for

The Final Solution

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
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(3)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2005

    The Literary Sherlocks

    What a joy it has been of late for us Sherlockians. Not only has there been a batch of new scholarly Holmes-related books to digest and debate--among them THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES--but we¿ve also been blessed with three very interesting and top-notch pastiches. What makes this trio of recent novels so unique is that they come from unlikely writers, individuals who fall more into the literary category than the mystery genre. I am, of course, referring to the three-headed prong that is Caleb Carr (THE ITALIAN SECRETARY), Michael Chabon (THE FINAL SOLUTION), and Mitch Cullin (A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND). *** As I decided to read all three books back to back, I shall comment on them in the order in which they were read. For better or worse, I started with the one that I believed would be the most satisfying of the trio: Caleb Carr¿s THE ITALIAN SECRETARY. However, while I found Carr¿s book engaging and fun for the most part, I was somewhat disappointed with it. In hindsight, my feelings might have more to do with my high regard for Carr¿s previous novels--such as THE ALIENIST--than it does with the actual quality of his Sherlock novel. In other words, had THE ITALIAN SECRETARY been written by someone else, I might not have found myself feeling it lacked the strength and depth of story that I¿ve come to expect from, yes, a Caleb Carr novel. So putting those thoughts aside, I will say that Carr¿s book is mostly well written and he has done a good job at capturing the spirit, intrigue, and style of Doyle. However, it fell a little flat toward the end, giving me the sense of a rushed job. Even so, both his Holmes and Watson are vivid and quite enjoyable, and I do hope he tries his hand at another Sherlock pastiche, taking his time to draw the story out rather than move it so swiftly to its conclusion. A somewhat slight but worthy read nevertheless. *** Next up was Michael Chabon¿s THE FINAL SOLUTION, the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer¿s look at an unnamed Sherlock in retirement, set with World War II as the backdrop. This novella--not novel--is actually quite wonderful and the writing is fluid, lyrical, and overall rather excellent. To be frank, I wasn¿t expecting much from such a slim volume that offered us Sherlock as an elderly gentleman. But I was mistaken. It is an intelligent diversion, and, like Mitch Cullin¿s novel, brings the character into a modern age that somewhat confounds him. If I have any complaints, though, it is that Chabon made a point of never mentioning Sherlock by name (he is simply The Old Man), and, by doing so, skirted the character¿s history and much of his background, making him a bit one dimensional. The shortness of the book, too, didn¿t leave much room for the plot (which is, by the way, very interesting) or other characters to be developed at any great length. Still, there was enough here to hold my interest, and, in its own way, THE FINAL SOLUTION not only compliments Mitch Cullin¿s longer work but its themes and story also function as a kind of extended prologue to the last book in the threesome. A wonderfully written, thoughtful addition to Holmes literature that manages to pack a decent punch in too few pages. *** Poor Mitch Cullin, I thought when I finally got around to his A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND. Besides holding the distinction of being ¿the best American novelist you`ve probably never heard of,¿ his attempt to capture Sherlock followed in the shadows of both Carr and Chabon¿s efforts (although, by comparison, I¿m willing to bet Cullin toiled on his book much longer than either of his contemporaries). And yet, of the three, his vision of Holmes is the most interesting and the best realized. The writing is superb, if not downright poetic at times. Most important to me, however, was that the elderly Sherlock of this novel has been humanized in a very realistic manner but yet, without question, still reads and sounds like Doyle¿s creation. That is no easy achievement, and one that should b

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2013

    While not as good as Yiddish Policeman's League, an enjoyable read

    This is a relatively short book. Fans of YIDDISH POLICEMAN and KAVALIER AND CLAY will also enjoy this one. Chabon is not prolific
    in his prose but that is because the man is the architect of some of the most intricate and precise metaphors in the English Language. If I say that James Lee Burke also falls into this category, then readers of this review can evaluate how much they think my opinion is worth.
    Again, a set of characters Chabon manages to not let fall into stereotypes and an intriguing story line --- but the prose, the PROSE!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    A very clever touching book written about a painful part of history

    I had to laugh when I read some of the reviews which gave this novella a low rating. They completely missed the whole point of the plot!! This is a superbly written book, "The Final Solution" a perfect title with multiple deep meanings, and the plot anything but boring!! I loved this book and gave it to my sister to read. She also LOVED it, as did my twelve year old son. Sorry to say, he must be a more insightful and sophisticated reader than some of the reviewers listed here!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2005

    Wonderful

    This book was a joy to read. The wonderfully imaginative unique world of Michael Chabon is refreshing in the face of countless formulaic novels. If you pick up this book you won't be disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An aging Sherlock Holmes tends his bees on Sussex Downs

    A retired old man in failing health, 89 years old to be more precise, tends his bees on Sussex Downs in the south of England in the summer of 1944. World War II is drawing to a close as the Allies have just invaded Normandy. While England is cautiously optimistic, its people still remain wary of Germany, its people and its ability to press the war with renewed vigor. Looking out of his cottage window, the old man spots a boy walking toward the nearby railway tracks with a large gray parrot on his shoulder. Concerned that the boy may harm himself on the tracks, the old man hauls himself wearily from the cottage and stops the boy with a shout. He quickly determines that the boy is a mute. The parrot, on the other hand, is anything but, filling the air with an endless stream of chatter, poetry and, oddest of all, an apparently random sequence of numbers, the entire lot of it spoken in German!<BR/><BR/>The boy is Linus Steinman, a Jewish refugee from Germany, who lives with Mrs Panicker and her husband, the local vicar, in their modest boarding house. When Mr Shane, one of the other boarders in the home, is murdered and it is also discovered that the German speaking parrot is missing, the readers learn that the old man used to be a well known detective - of no small skill in his working days - who on more than one occasion had assisted Scotland Yard and local constabularies in the solution of sticky mysteries. In this particular case, it is clear that Scotland Yard has considerable interest in both Mr Shane (whose origin is obviously not as he had claimed) and the parrot, feeling that the random number sequences may relate in some fashion to the codes used by the German military. The police and Scotland Yard, with considerable doubts in the old man¿s continued abilities, grudgingly request his assistance in solving the murder and finding the lost parrot.<BR/><BR/>While the ¿old man¿ is never actually named, the reader will, of course, realize that he is Sherlock Holmes with all his trademark characteristics. He continues to smoke his pipe stuffed with a vile Turkish shag; his long lean legs are certainly more feeble and arthritic than they were in his younger days but his hawkish nose and drooping eyelids remain alert for clues; his magnifying glass is still in his pocket; he continues to scoff at the ability of the police to destroy a crime scene and consider the irrelevant while ignoring the true pertinent facts of a case.<BR/><BR/>If a potential reader is looking for a clever mystery that requires the skills of a Sherlock Holmes for its solution and resembles the clever constructions that came from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, ¿The Final Solution¿ will fall well short of the mark and leave readers badly disappointed. The murder and the mystery of the parrot are resolved but, in my opinion, in a most humdrum fashion. Where ¿The Final Solution¿ did manage to shine quite strongly was in the simple but warmly compelling portrayal of an aging man, past the prime and sparkle of his youth, who retains much of his mental skill without the accompanying physical prowess to carry it off and who has no greater wish than to die without indignity.<BR/><BR/>At only 131 pages, ¿The Final Solution¿ is a short and easy read that does add something of value to the Sherlock Holmes legend even if that something is not a particularly interesting mystery. Recommended.<BR/><BR/>Paul Weiss

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2007

    Extremely boring

    This was the first Chabon book I'd read. It was chosen for my book club, and other people in my club had raved about what a great author he is. Unfortunately, that was not the experience I had with him. Each time I picked this book up, I had to force myself to read a few pages. I would read a little bit and then my eyes would cross with boredom and I'd put it down. Despite its short length, it took me over a week to read. If it weren't my book club pick, I never would have finished it. The writing was cloudy and dull and the story itself not particularly interesting. I didn't know who took the parrot, nor did I care. Unlike some books that make me feel like I am jumping into the action each time I dip into them, reading this book was as if I were watching the story through a thick piece of green, rippled glass, so murky that I could barely see the movements of the different characters. Combine that murkiness with a story that isn't that interesting and, well, you can understand why my eyes were crossing! I am reluctant to waste any more of my precious free time on anything else by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2006

    A Perfect Book

    I found this book beautiful and elegant. It contains not a single unnecessary syllable. A joy to read and reread.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2005

    What a stupid book!

    The main mystery in the book was never solved! The author is also way too verbose. I thought I would never get to the end of the book, then when I finally did - I hated the ending. At least it wasn't longer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2005

    Surprisingly flimsy

    For all its linguistic legerdomain, 'The Final Solution' is as hollow as the proverbial drum. Chabon's typical rich, involving, poetic characterization and highly stylized prose only emphasize the ho-hum-ness of this brief Sherlock Holmes novella. The actual mystery is never particularly involving, nor is the cheekily-veiled identity of the protagonist ever in doubt. Chabon seems more intent on experimenting with the genre conventions than telling a story, which is stunning from a writer this immortally gifted. A very disappointing novella, to be sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2004

    Huge Letdown

    After Kavalier and Clay, I decided I'd buy all of Chabon's books in hardcover. His writing was AMAZING! Then came Summerland, which I couldnt finish, and now THIS, which is simply boring. In his first few books, characters developed subtly and deeply. The reader truly felt their drives and ambitions and related on a basic level. I cared about the characters and what happened to them. I didn't want the books to end. Summerland was the end of that. The Final Solution jumps right in and gives us what amounts to stereotyped Character #1. A brief, trite description is offered before moving to Character #2. Then, a brief awkward exchange occurs, and we skip WAY over to a new setting for rapid-fire Character descriptions. But you just never ever care. I put the book down ten times before getting past page 30 and forced myself to get to the end of the 130-ish page novella. It pained me, there was no satisfaction in suffering through to the anticlimactic conclusion. I do not know what is wrong with Michael Chabon lately, but it's almost like a junior high school student in his first attempts at length fell flat in this story. Very, very, VERY SAD!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    SUPERB READING OF AN IMAGINATIVE STORY

    Acclaimed actor Michael York hardly needs an introduction, as he's well remembered for his fine film performances in 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'Cabaret' and 'Wide Sargasso Sea.' With his distinctive slight British accent and resonant voice he brings us a superb reading of Michael Chabon's take on an adventure of Sherlock Holmes (the name is never mentioned, but it's a good guess when the hero is a pipe smoking, bee keeping former detective). Chabon supposes the famous sleuth is now 89 years of age and living in respected privacy in Sussex where he concentrates on his beloved hobby of beekeeping. It is world War II. The detective's peaceful existence is interrupted when a rather mysterious nine-year-old boy, Linus Steinman, appears. The boy is remarkable for several reasons, the most obvious ones are that he's quite bright and mute. Linus's companion is a chatty African gray parrot - a German speaking parrot at that. Crackers don't seem to be on this bird's mind as he is insistent upon repeating a string of numbers. One could surmise endlessly on the meaning of these numbers - codes, bank account, identifications? Nonetheless, when someone steals the parrot local police call upon Holmes for assistance. The master detective can't resist a crack at one more puzzling case. Listen - you'll thoroughly enjoy.

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    Posted January 12, 2011

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