The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time established Mark Haddon as a writer of adult fiction. It won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize, The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and the Booktrust award for teenage fiction. The novel’s main appeal is the character of its narrator, fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, whose counselor in his special-needs school has suggested that he write a book, and so he does. Although the words “autism” and “Asperger’s syndrome” are never mentioned in the novel, it soon becomes clear that Christopher has a high functioning form of autism. Because of the particular way his brain is wired, fiction is unappealing to him; he cannot tell lies or understand most made-up stories. As he tells his narrative, the list of his quirks grows ever larger. He cannot eat things colored yellow or brown. He cannot be touched. Seeing three red cars in a row on the way to school means that it will be a good day.
Christopher, however, is a very bright child. In mathematics, his abilities are far beyond his age. He is intensely observant of the world around him, even though its human inhabitants are mostly a mystery to him. He loves puzzles and is very good at them, so it is no surprise that he likes the Sherlock Holmes mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Holmes’s dispassionate analysis of clues is especially appealing to him. Thus he has decided to write a mystery to address his counselor’s assignment.
From the opening pages, Christopher’s special gifts, as well as his special limitations, are apparent. He numbers his chapters using only prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and so forth). He always knows the precise time, and he notices that one of his teachers wears brown shoes with approximately sixty small circular holes in them. When Christopher finds a dead poodle, he is sad; he likes dogs, whose moods are much less puzzling than human moods, and he resolves to discover its killer.
Christopher’s discovery of the dog leads to a skirmish with the dog’s owner, who calls the police. When the policeman asks too many questions...
(The entire section is 870 words.)