Friday, 15 February 2013

Something for the weekend.. The Final Solution

Hello, this weeks weekend suggestion is Michael Chabon's 'The Final Solution'.

In the English countryside an 89 year old man looks after his bees & keeps himself to himself - he is vaguely remembered by the villagers as a once famous detective. What unfolds is a quite bizarre mystery involving an escaped Parrot, a small silent German boy & a motley parade of villagers & outsiders.

I'm afraid I can't share with you one of the great delights of this book. I was given this book purely on the basis that I like Chabon (& I certainly do - see my Telegraph Avenue review for evidence) & I hadn't read it. What neither I nor the person gifting the book knew, is that the central figure of the novel is none other than SPOILER ALERT Arthur Conan Doyle's esteemed detective Mr Sherlock Holmes. Or is it? (Yes it is). Being a fan of Holmes I was certainly intrigued.

So we have a great writer indulging himself in imagining the last case of the greatest ever detective. Holmes (I should say the character is never named) with age has grown quite infirm in body, & to a lesser extent in mind. Poignantly he struggles to remember simple facts & his once crystalline mind is becoming fogged. Chabon humanises the ageing Holmes, making him more fallible than Doyle's original. The relationship between Holmes & the refugee is nicely played & the story itself is intriguing. The main drawer though, as ever with Chabon is the style & the beautifully realised characters. Anyone can enjoy this book but Holmes fans in particular will enjoy the references.

I find myself being a bit of a hypocrite here as I am not a fan of writers continuing other writes tales - I'm thinking of the addition to Douglas Adam's Hitch Hikers books in particular. But Holmes feels more universal & by not naming the character Chabon gives me an out!

So give this a go or even better buy it for a Holmes loving friend who's never heard of it - they will be delighted.

Buy it here


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