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The Final Solution
A Story Of Detection
by Michael Chabon

The Final Solution reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 63 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
7.2 out of 10
based on 20 reviews
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how did we calculate this?
based on 5 votes
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Michael Chabon's short homage to classic detective fiction (the protagonist is a barely-disguised, albeit very aged, Sherlock Holmes) is set in the English countryside during the end of WWII.

Fourth Estate, 131 pages
11/01/2004
$16.95

ISBN: 006076340X

Fiction
Historical Fiction
Mystery & Thrillers

NOTES:
Originally published in the Paris Review.

What The Critics Said

All reviews are classified as one of five grades: Outstanding (4 points), Favorable (3), Mixed (2), Unfavorable (1) and Terrible (0). To calculate the Metascore, we divide total points achieved by the total points possible (i.e., 4 x the number of reviews), with the resulting percentage (multiplied by 100) being the Metascore. Learn more...

The Globe And Mail [Toronto] Margaret Cannon
If there were a Pulitzer Prize for mysteries, this one would be in.
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The New York Times Book Review Deborah Friedell
Chabon makes good on his claim: a successful detective story need not be lacking in literary merit.
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The Onion A.V. Club Noel Murray
Chabon handles the mystery devices fairly well, but in the best parts of The Final Solution, he becomes transported by his own powers of description.
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Village Voice Andrew Lewis Conn
At once an ingenious, fully imagined work, an expert piece of literary ventriloquism, and a mash note to the beloved boys' tales of Chabon's youth, The Final Solution is a major minor work that will come to be seen as a hinge piece in the development of Chabon's art.
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The Independent John Freeman
Although The Final Solution is a detective story, the evolution of its characters mirrors that of literary fiction.
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The Guardian Sam Thompson
This is a subtle, humane novella written to a high polish.
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Daily Telegraph Benjamin Markovits
It's a light story in both senses of that phrase: short and sweet.
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Chicago Sun-Times Nathaniel Bellows
Although the elements of the murder mystery -- the clues and interrogations, the red herrings and wrong turns are adequately supplied and mostly believable, it is clearly a narrative framework over which the author explores other, less concrete ideas.
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Chicago Tribune Alan Cheuse
[A] lovingly constructed tribute.
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Christian Science Monitor Erik Spanberg
Pair[s] a delightful procedural with a haunting meditation on mortality. Chabon sacrifices neither pure entertainment nor literary achievement in the process.
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Kirkus Reviews
Though what we have here is definitely Chabon in a minor key, he hasn't spared any effort in its execution. [1 Oct 2004, p.928]
Publishers Weekly
Neither a proper mystery nor particularly fine literature, this haunting novella, for all its strengths, lies uneasily between the two and will fully please few fans of each. [1 Nov 2004, p.43]
San Francisco Chronicle Sarah Coleman
Notwithstanding its gallery of quirky characters and well-plotted puzzle, this novella seems a bit too slight to deserve its own volume.
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Entertainment Weekly Troy Patterson
No mystery, especially one comprising a scant 131 wide-margined pages, should contain so many red herrings, or such a flimsy (re)solution. Chabon's fans, however, will eagerly clue in on a fine new quality in his nimble voice -- something firm, rich, and anything but child's play.
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London Review Of Books Theo Tait
The Final Solution has its moments.... But, as a whole, it doesn’t add up to much. The novella seems to have been published in book form as an afterthought; it appeared first in the Paris Review. It could have stayed there without much loss to the reading public.
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The Spectator Andrew Taylor
Chabon gives the reader a tantalising taste of what he’s capable of. Taken as a whole, however, the book is too sketchy and skimpy to be entirely satisfactory.
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Booklist Bill Ott
It's all accomplished with plenty of smart, stylistic turns, but finally the short novel feels like a lesser Coen brothers movie: all the trappings without much filling. [1 Oct 2004, p.282]
PopMatters Zachary Houle
Ultimately, though, the book is a garbled mess, full of too many characters and too many characters that aren't fully formed enough to care about.
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Boston Globe Kurt Jensen
A blandish kind of mystery tale, with no clear audience, no discernible necessity, and so only a modestly satisfying conclusion.
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Los Angeles Times Michael Frank
As though to compensate for the thin characterization and lackluster storytelling, Chabon has succumbed to some perfectly dreadful overwriting. [13 Nov 2004, p.E19]

What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this book is 7.2 (out of 10) based on 5 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

Dan B. gave it a7:
It's sort of a Sherlock Holmes mystery and sort of nothing like one (multiple points of view, including Holmes' and a parrot's, for one; and the mystery's not very complex and requires no incredible deductions). Because it's so short and light, it almost doesn't matter that it's neither here nor there. I wouldn't pay full price for it (and I didn't--got the original hardcover at deep discount), but if you like Chabon in general you'll probably like this. It's *not* overwritten--nowhere was I put out by some big word or excessively heavy prose, at least. And it is a cute/interesting idea, to play with Holmes in his "dotage", to see how his incredible mind has been dulled by memory loss and mild dementia (or whatever it is)--it's probably a good enough idea to write a book around, and it's not delved into very deeply (or even interestingly) in this story.

Jon H gave it a4:
Chabon's worst, not worth buying to say the least, not even really worth a rental at the library, it's so short yet it should of been even shorter, it's badly overwritten I'm sorry to say. Do yourself a favor and find another detective story to read, you'll thank me.

Chris J gave it an8:
Where one may criticize Chabon for not fufilling the drama theatrics of the standard mystery genre through his use of plotline, you can't help but enjoy his slight nose thumbing by using the genre as more of a wonderful character study and a pedestal to say, "not all mystery solutions need be over the top." But don't be fooled...you still have a fantastic story pepperd with hints, dead-ends, and the "A-HA!" moment still found in detective stories. And as much as Chabon maybe accused of "over writing" a sub-par plot, I in fact invited his way with language. If anything it just reinforced his respect and love for the genre.

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