The way our book club works is that each month one of the Belle Skirts members chooses a book and we all read it. Then, at the end of the month, we meet back together to eat dinner and discuss the book. It is a great time for all of us girls to take a break from the stress of work and family and just spend some quality time together.
This month it was my turn to pick the book and I chose The Final Solution by Michael Chabon. I chose the book for two reasons-it was short and we already had it in our library at home. My husband has raved to me in the past about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is a more popular book by Michael Chabon, and I figured I couldn't go wrong with this pick. I had high hopes but in the end I don't think the book went over very well for the Belle Skirts.
The description on the back cover intrigued me. The story takes place in Sussex Enland in the year of 1944. The story opens up on the scene of a retired detective that is now an old beekeeper thought to be Sherlock Holmes. The old man is looking out of his front door and notices a young boy walking along some railroad tracks with a parrot on his shoulder. The sight of the boy walking so dangerously close to the tracks stirs the old man out of his chair and onto the strange scene. He quickly discovers that the boy, a recent Jewish-German refugee named Linus Steinman, does not speak, but his pet parrot does. Not only is the parrot speaking, but he is squawking out a long list of mysterious numbers in fluent German.
The plot thickens whenever the old man is later called upon by local police to help investigate the murder of a local man and the now missing parrot. The old man soon discovers that the number spouting parrot may be uttering an important military code and therefore very valuable if in the right person's hands. The old man, although once a great detective, is not allured by the strangeness of the case, but compelled by the boy and seeks to reunite the boy and his missing parrot.
The author, Chabon, makes sure that all the parts of the mystery are there, but the plot gets somewhat lost behind the beautiful picture that the author is trying to paint of the old man and the realization of his deteriorating mind. At times I felt like I wanted a deeper glimpse into who the old man was and how he got to this point in his life instead of contemplating the mystery of the parrot. About halfway through the book I was a little lost. For some reason it was difficult for me to keep up with all the characters and at times it felt like I was trudging through the mud just to make it to the end, but I am glad I did.
If you are in the mood for a good mystery I would not recommend this book. As a mystery it fell short of my expectations, but as I turned the last page my heart felt warmed and rewarded by the small glimpse the author gave me into the life of the old man. Chabon never states that the man is an old Sherlock Holmes, but I believe the speculation helps to draw and peak the readers interest. A well written book that steals your mind away on a quirky little adventure!