I’m a fan of a Michael Chabon. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” is an amazing book. “Telegraph Avenue” is one of my favorites as well. Those are serious tomes, so I was interested in reading this little book to see how he manages to encapsulate his general style of verbose prose into a novella.
In 1944, a retired British detective in his twilight years is raising bees at his small cottage in the English countryside. He becomes involved in the investigation of a murder in his village by way of finding a young German boy’s missing parrot.
First, I have to say that this is apparently supposed to be an imagining of Sherlock Holmes in retirement. Having never read any Sherlock Holmes (I know, I know. I’ll get to it eventually), I can’t really speak to how that works, if it works or how important that is to the plot. Perhaps I am not the best person to judge this book. I had no idea that it was even about that until I read some other reviews about the book AFTER I had read it.
What I can say is that I enjoyed it. Chabon can turn a phrase and always, always creates full-bodied characters. His attention to detail, the nuances of the characters, their mannerisms, how they move, bring them to life for me. An elderly detective struggling to piece out the mystery with the memory loss of aging thwarting his efforts. A young German boy traumatized and muted by war lovingly caring for his parrot. I could spend a series of novels with those two.
Understanding that this is just a novella, it still felt like an outline to me. To go into such depth with the characters and the setting in such a short piece worked at the expense of the actual mystery which could have been fleshed out a bit more. So much of the actual mystery solving seemed to be going on inside the head of the retired detective that the leaps made to the conclusion felt rushed. This may be a Holmesy thing too that I am missing out on. Probably should add that to my TBR. So many books. So little time.