The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

Vintage, 2004

Mark Haddon

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour's dog murdered, he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.'

Vintage, 2004



I read this book on holiday this year and could hardly put it down. The author manages to provide a fascinating insight into the life of a 'special' child (Christopher), from his own point of view. The book opens with Christopher explaining how he was taught 'emotion' through the use of smiley faces by his school teacher. It continues to show how the murder of his neighbour's dog leads to a realisation about his mother and father's relationship, and that perhaps his father can not be trusted. Eventually, this revelation leads Christopher to leave his road to travel to London.

All the way through the book, Chistopher challenges himself by setting himself mathematical or memory problems, demonstrating his mature attitude and reasoning. Yet he is unable to relate to other human beings in a similar way. The way he explains a joke his father uses demonstrates this:

'His face was drawn but the curtains were real.

I know why this is meant to be funny. I asked. It is because drawn has three meanings, and they are 1) drawn with a pencil, 2) exhausted, and 3) pulled accross a window, and meaning 1 refers to both the face and the curtains, meaning 2 refers only to the face, and meaning 3 refers only to the curtains.'

He then compares the joke with a cacophony of noise in his head, confusing him and explaining why there are no further jokes in the book.

The extreme scientific intellect compared to the failure to understand what many would consider a perfectly simple pun really enlightens the reader to the effects of Christopher's disease. Clever details, such as the chapters labelled in prime numbers - due to Christopher's interest in mathematics - make this a very well conceived work.



Reviewed on 02/08/2004 by Sam


Reviewed item details

Published by Vintage, 2004
ISBN: 0-099-45025-9

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