The Final Solution, by Michael Chabon (who won a Pulitzer in 2001 for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), is like Encyclopedia Brown on crack. A novelette – it’s a brisk 144 pages – starring a famous unnamed detective (the book hints at his identity being Sherlock Holmes), The Final Solution is a story of one case, one murder, one answer, and one boy and his parrot.
Like Encyclopedia Brown who runs his business (remember? NO case too small, 25 cents per day) from his garage, the detective gets asked by city investigators to assist in a case involving a murder and a stolen parrot – a bird with a curious habit of rattling off streams of seemingly insignificant numbers. Set at end of World War II in England, our retired detective reluctantly sets off to help a mute Jewish boy find his pet.
It’s a whodunit (was it the jealous husband? the irascible son? the stranger?) mixed in with a bit of military and political intrigue that has all the elements of a solid mystery novel. Though it’s a bit longer than Encyclopedia’s average case, Chabon’s novel still retains the gratifying “reveal” at the end of the book that makes it all worth the while. Short, sweet, and altogether satisfying.