The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time: Mark Haddon (Vintage, 2003)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time: Mark Haddon (Vintage, 2003)This novel probably needs no introduction but in summary it is written from the viewpoint of Christopher John Francis Boone, who is 15 years old. Christopher finds his neighbour’s dog dead and sets on a course of events to discover the murderer that instead unlocks family secrets.

It is never explicitly stated in the story, but Christopher appears to have a form of high-functioning autism. He is very logical and does not understand people. He starts to write his detective story for his teacher at school, and adds descriptions of random things because she says he needs to include more descriptions. It’s probably the only fiction book with the answer to an A-Level maths question in it, not to mention being my first introduction to the Monty Hall Problem.

I love most of this book. On the first reading I related to much of Christopher’s viewpoint of the world and the disconnection appeals to me. However, Christopher’s disconnection to the world is severe. On being told his mother has died, he feels no sense of emotion. Autism is a spectrum disorder and there are as many different versions as there are people but in the years since I first read this I feel that the emotional disconnect applied to people with Autism is taken too much for granted.

I think this is the original book of this kind. Mockingbird is a poor relation whereas Room (Emma Donoghue) is probably more comparable being written from the viewpoint of a hyperlexic five-year old with limited world knowledge. I like how this book doesn’t have a neat ending. The investigation is completed and things are found out but life for Christopher has changed irrevocably and there are no neat endings for life. There are no ‘happy ever afters’ here but you’re not left feeling cheated. It is right, it finishes in the right place, and in keeping with the personality of the story, it ends with something completely disconnected!

The title is taken from this quote, which I include because I also like it:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

“Silver Blaze”: Arthur Conan Doyle, 1892

One comment

  1. Pingback: Our Week in Books #4 | Child-Led Chaos