There's nothing like a good mystery to keep you company while you're curled up in your favorite chair next to a crackling fire on a chill winter night. Warm up a brandy, put a match to a nice bowl of Cavendish, and open up The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon.
Alone in his ancient bachelor's home by the railroad tracks somewhere in the British countryside, a decrepit old man is sparked into action by a young boy and his talkative (and bi-lingual) parrot drifting too close to danger. After discovering the boy is mute, the elder sends him homeward, with a little candy to buffer the sting of his warnings.
This chance meeting, combined with an unexpected visit from some typically incompetent English Bobbies reveals the aging beekeeper's hidden background in the realm of detection. While consultation was requested regarding the murder of a Mr. Shane, the eccentric sleuth chooses instead to pursue leads concerned primarily with boy's missing gray parrot.
Set in the delicate time near the end of WWII, this quirky but meticulously composed yarn moves to solve 3 mysteries simultaneously: Mr. Shane's murder, the whereabouts of the missing gray parrot, and the meaning of the cryptic strings of numbers the bird frequently recites. While the old man's attention occasionally wanders, and his tired body sometimes falters, his keen powers of observation and deduction drive the story ever forward. Despite the minimal development of the supporting characters, ample color is conveyed through the actions and thoughts of the old man, and the depiction of the mute little boy and his parrot.
Chabon delivers this tale with musty flavor and distinctly British tone that pays sincere and faithful homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries. The illustrations contributed by Jay Ryan dotted throughout are sure to help capture the attention and imagination of younger readers. This book is sure to become a classic bedtime story (or perhaps fireside) read.