Sharon reviews FINAL SOLUTION by Michael Chabon, Harper Collins, 2004, 144 pages.

The boy first came to the man’s attention when he was walking along the railroad tracks. The boy was dragging his feet along in the dirt and gravel. He was young, maybe 9 years old. He was very pale, and never spoke. On the boy’s shoulder was an African gray parrot, who only spoke German. It was the oddest thing that the beekeeper had seen in a long time. It was enough of an anomaly compared to the usual sights and sounds of the English countryside so much that the old man momentarily forgot his bees, his beekeeping magazine and even his own difficulty in getting around. The old man walked to the door of his cottage and called the boy over.

So started an unusual friendship between a young, mute German refugee and an old man who had once been known as the greatest detective of all time.

When a stranger is killed and the parrot disappears, the retired detective agrees to help the local police solve the crimes. There’s something so strange about the silent boy and the parrot, that the detective knows there’s more to the story. What are the numbers that the parrot calls out, between reciting poetry and singing German folk songs?

What do they mean? Here, after so many years, is a mystery worth investigating.