Christopher Boone is a 15 year-old boy who has been living with his working-class father for the past two years since his mother, he’s been told, died of a heart attack. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time begins with Christopher’s discovery of Wellington, his neighbor’s dog, dead, impaled by a pitchfork. He decides he must solve the mystery of the dog’s death, in part because he has come under suspicion of the crime, but mostly because the situation has presented the ultimate puzzle to solve. Although never fully explained in the text of the novel, Christopher is Autistic, and logic and puzzles are the tools he uses to make the world around him make sense.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon’s debut novel, is written in first person from Christopher’s point of view. In this manner, Haddon takes us along this young man’s journey with unmatched empathy and insight into the Autistic mind. Christopher’s adventure is by turns heart-wrenching, hilarious, tragic, and at times, even shocking. Through his narrative, however, the storytelling is detached, almost simplistically matter-of-fact. But therein lies the magic of this masterfully crafted book. Haddon allows the reader to experience life as Christopher has learned how to deal with it; sharing the literal-minded observations and self-imposed patterns that he relies on to filter the overwhelming world around him.
Christopher Boone warns the reader from the start: “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them.” It may be true that the “funny” that most people find in jokes is lost to Christopher’s unique logical processes. But it’s the furthest thing from the truth that the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time doesn’t overflow with not only unmatched humor, but great poignancy and warmth. This is a novel that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a well-honed mystery, wishes to gain insight into the mind of a person with Autism, or is simply a fan of engaging, smartly-written literature.