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‘The Curious Incident’ Is Curiously Good

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Mark Haddon

Well, there’s really nothing curious about how and why this book is so good. Mark Haddon has created an extremely unique protagonist in Christopher Boone, an autistic math whiz who goes about trying to solve the murder of a neighbour’s dog in the manner of his hero Sherlock Holmes.

By penning the book in the first-person, Haddon in effect brings us into the mind of young Christopher, who suffers from a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome; it is this which truly emboldens the narrative and gives Haddon the perfect form in which to attempt to mimic the thought processes of someone with Asperger’s. He writes in clean, spare sentences, the tone of which sound like a cross between a scientist and a ten year-old — for that is exactly what Christopher is.

I know I’m a little late getting to this one — it came out to huge acclaim in 2003, winning the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Overall Best First Book (although Haddon had already published many children’s books before that). And, really, I can’t think of too much to say about it. It’s just plain good.

The choice of the first-person narrator is both inspired and obvious for what Haddon wanted to achieve, and he does it flawlessly, but the plot is actually the book’s biggest strength; you really don’t expect to be where you end up based on the book’s title, and it is the careful unfolding of the story and the surprises along the way that keep you glued to the page and help you overlook the few minor incongruities that pop up here and there.

If you haven’t found this one at your local book store or library yet, I would suggest giving it a few hours of your attention — upon completion you will know how to win on Let’s Make a Deal, have learned all the prime numbers from 1 – 233 and delighted in what is definitely one of the best closing sentences every written. 03971semaj

One Comment leave one →
  1. Monday, December 18, 2006 7:33 pm

    ah, never too late to read a good book! it’s one of the very few children books that entertain and educate the adult reader. apparently haddon’s next novel (forgot the title) is very good too, nominated for several awards already – it’s an adult novel though.

    n.b. my book blog is at

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