Book review: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

June 10, 2008

Title: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Author: Mark Haddon
Pages: 268

The author

Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written over fifteen books for children. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford where he majored in English.

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is Haddon’s most popular work and was his first book for adults.

Haddon lives in Oxford with his wife and two young sons.

The plot

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is a book about fifteen-year old Christopher Boone, an autistic savant. It is written in first-person narrative.

Christopher is extraordinarily gifted in mathematics and has a prodigious memory. He remembers almost everything that happens to him in photographic detail. Unfortunately he also suffers from autism (Asperger’s Syndrome, or high-functioning autism to be more specific) and has almost no social skills. He cannot bear being touched and screams when surrounded by crowds of people. He hates particular colours (yellow for example) and will not eat food of that colour. He loves red on the other hand and loves red-colour food.

Christopher lives alone with his father in Swindon, England. His father is very understanding and rarely loses his patience with Christopher.

One night, he discovers his neighbour’s poodle has been murdered with a garden fork. The owner of the dog, Mrs. Shears, calls the police on seeing Christopher fondling the dead animal. When the policeman arrives, he touches Christopher, who immediately lashes out. Christopher, now a prime suspect in the murder, is taken down to the police station for hitting the cop.

After being taken home by his father Christopher resolves to find he real murderer of the dog. Despite his father forbidding him from doing so he goes around “detecting”. What he finds is quite unexpected.

The verdict

This was quite a remarkable book. Most of the books i’ve read about special children (Dibs in search of self, Beautiful child, etc) have been written by special educators. This book is different because it shows how autistic people see the world and explains the strange behaviour they exhibit (like groaning, screaming, hitting, etc).

Another reason to read this book is at the story itself is very interesting and paced very well.

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