Literature / The Final Solution

Michael Chabon's The Final Solution (first published in the Paris Review in 2003) features an unnamed but strangely familiar detective, elderly and long-retired, investigating the case of a boy's missing African gray parrot. However, the boy is a mute Jewish refugee whose parents were taken away to a concentration camp, and the parrot keeps spouting mysterious numbers. Thanks to the numbers, the parrot attracts some unwelcome attention from more than one source—perhaps enough attention to lead to murder.


This book contains examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Linus and the parrot are reunited, and the murder is caught. But the other characters still don't understand the significance of the numbers—which refer to the railway cars in which Linus' parents were taken away to a concentration camp.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: At one point, Mr. Panicker becomes a suspect in the murder investigation because his wife was clearly attracted to the victim. Even Mr. Panicker admits to himself that his feelings on that score were violent.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: The detective puffs away on one.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Both referencing the Holocaust, and mirroring Doyle's The Final Problem.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The detective is cranky at the best of times, despite his emotional response to Linus.
  • Grumpy Old Man: "Crotchety" would be an understatement for the detective's general demeanor.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: Sort of. The detective identifies the murderer and retrieves the parrot, but does not figure out what the numbers mean.
  • The Voiceless: Linus Steinman. He gets better at the end.


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