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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time [Paperback]

Mark Haddon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 18 2004
Narrated by a fifteen-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions.

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. At fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbour’s dog Wellington impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer, and turns to his favourite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As Christopher tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, the narrative draws readers into the workings of Christopher’s mind.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotions. The effect is dazzling, making for one of the freshest debut in years: a comedy, a tearjerker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Mark Haddon's bitterly funny first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old boy, mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behaviour of his elders and peers.

Late one night, Christopher comes across his neighbour's poodle, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork. Wellington's owner finds him cradling her dead dog in his arms, and has him arrested. After spending a night in jail, Christopher resolves--against the objection of his father and neighbours--to discover just who has murdered Wellington. He is encouraged by Siobhan, a social worker at his school, to write a book about his investigations, and the result--quirkily illustrated, with each chapter given its own prime number--is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Haddon's novel is a startling performance. This is the sort of book that could turn condescending, or exploitative, or overly sentimental, or grossly tasteless very easily, but Haddon navigates those dangers with a sureness of touch that is extremely rare among first-time novelists. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is original, clever, and genuinely moving: this one is a must-read. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this revelatory novel, relaxes by groaning and doing math problems in his head, eats red-but not yellow or brown-foods and screams when he is touched. Strange as he may seem, other people are far more of a conundrum to him, for he lacks the intuitive "theory of mind" by which most of us sense what's going on in other people's heads. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. As the mystery leads him to the secrets of his parents' broken marriage and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him. In the hands of first-time novelist Haddon, Christopher is a fascinating case study and, above all, a sympathetic boy: not closed off, as the stereotype would have it, but too open-overwhelmed by sensations, bereft of the filters through which normal people screen their surroundings. Christopher can only make sense of the chaos of stimuli by imposing arbitrary patterns ("4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don't speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don't eat my lunch and Take No Risks"). His literal-minded observations make for a kind of poetic sensibility and a poignant evocation of character. Though Christopher insists, "This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them," the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening book and a terrific debut novel June 21 2003
This is a very unusual novel mostly because of the narrator's autism. Simple to read, the novel has an interesting rhythm to it as the reader becomes more familiar with Christopher's disability. While I initially thought it would become repetitive, the story takes some turns to make it a consistently enjoyable reading experience.
Christopher begins to write the book to solve the mystery of the murder of Wellington, a neighbor's dog, like his hero Sherlock Holmes. Along the way, we learn about his family situation, his view of the world, his idiosyncrasies, and his school life. He's not exactly an unreliable narrator, but the author does an excellent job of imagining the problems involved when the storyteller has autism and the story is consistent with this perspective.
While not a perfect book, I would recommend this highly, especially to people who want a fresh and different reading experience. It's not at all preachy, and it deals with a little understood disability with honesty; this reader came away from the book with a new understanding of the difficulties of dealing with autism. It is well worth your time to pick this one up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Captivaring Sept. 15 2005
As both an author and father of a child with Asperger's, I was drawn to this book to see if Haddon could truly capture the unique brilliance and absent social skills of an autistic boy. Not only does he succeed at the task, he adds a healthy dash of humor while avoiding the easy trap of pathos a lesser author might have fallen into. The book is stunning in its accuracy of how those with autism view the world and- just as important- how the world views them. It is this last viewpoint that elevates the book to more than just clever, because we see through Christopher's literal-minded eyes the duplicity of the "normal" world, the world that all assume must be superior. In a way, Haddon's book reminds me of that great short story "Gimpel the Fool" by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a story of a simple man who believes all the lies he's told. In the end, it's not those who tried to trick him, but Gimpel himself who's revealed to be the wisest one for remaining firm in his belief that goodness will prevail. So too does Christopher prevail, his detective work unveiling the truth and overcoming all the futile attempts to thwart or dismiss his meticulous investigation.
I don't know if I'll ever write a book with an autistic character, but thanks to Mr. Haddon, I feel like it's already been done for me.
Strongly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educating entertainment May 25 2006
By A Customer
Mark Haddon's real-life experience with autistic children allowed him to craft this masterpiece by providing the perspective of a young autistic teenager's mind. Christopher's why of thinking - and consequently, his actions - make logical sense, but because he lacks a normal person's ability to make intuitive connections or understand the unspoken, Christopher has to rely on the imperfect set of rules he's learned about human behavior. Haddon is a subtle and sensitive writer, leaving it to us to draw the conclusions that Christopher can't. I thoroughly enjoyed Christopher's often poetic digressions on mathematics, religion, astronomy, and cosmology, which helped bring his character alive and provided humor as well as food for thought. This is a book that I highly recommend to everybody - it is not only an interesting read, but also a great learning experience. For the same reason (educating entertainment) I also recommend a series of 3 children's books titled "Why some cats are rascals"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not about the poodle Nov. 26 2004
Light in emotions but deep in description - Haddon has obviously used his experience working with autistic children to great advantage. The result, Christopher Boone. A very raw, well developed character - with realistic ideas about life, and simple views and perspective into humanity. Other characters introduced and situations explored in the novel are quite complex in detail - however Haddon's writing style provides wonderful insight into these situations, as the reader is able to perceive these instances through Christopher's simplistic reasoning.
To be completely honest in my review, I'm no genius, and found a lot of the mathematical parts confusing. Haddon has done quite well simplifying them in layman's terms, though often I found myself skimming over these parts.
The content of these parts is in fact of little importance and by skimming over them I was only further emphasizing the idea that Christopher Boone is a mathematical genius. And Haddon has done particularly well in conveying this through his novel with colorful descriptions and diagrams.
A 2-4 hour read, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is very well presented. The cover has a hole-punched dog, which looks through to a page of reviews on the novel. This book would make a great gift for anyone from teen to elderly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artfully Autistic Feb. 11 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
If having autism could be demonstrated quite literally, this book is it! I have known many individuals with autism over the last 30 years and I saw many of them in the character of the narrator, Christopher. Christopher's character is the essence of the person with autism, who wants the world to be well-ordered and logical. He does mathematical equations in his head to get calm and I wish that would work for me!
I loved reading Christopher's thought processes thoughout the book. Christopher decides to investigate who murdered Wellington, the neighbor's dog. His father tells him to mind his own business and not investigate. But Christopher thinks about what Sherlock Holmes would do and investigates anyway. Christopher reasons that most people who kill others usually kill someone they know and are close to. He then reasons it would not unusual to be murdered by someone in your family on Christmas Day!
This book is a work of art and it provides pathos, wisdom and understanding to the curious world of people with autism in the daytime and the nighttime.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor English Curriculum Selection
This book was included in a high school curriculum, and this review is given with that purpose in mind - English curriculum selection.

I very much disliked this book. Read more
Published 4 days ago by joanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by Saud Alnajjar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great work. Although hidden under a deceptively simple discourse, its depth is remarkable.
Published 1 month ago by Nelly Martinez
3.0 out of 5 stars The book itself was so-so.
The book came in the time stated and was in the shape stated. The book itself was hard to get into and I had to force myself to finish it.
Published 4 months ago by elliemae79
4.0 out of 5 stars great!
this is a great book. the story is about a boy with autism, it's awsome, you guys should read it!
Published 5 months ago by CYNTHIA PENG
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to have and share
Read this book in English literature class . Gave it to a patient who had a grandson with autism . Can't deny the fact this is a very good book . Higly recommend if
Published 6 months ago by Marina
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read to understand the world we live in and ourselves
I found this book quite bizzare at first. It offers a prospective of an autistic person on the world. It immitates the specifics of the logic of such person. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Olena Bada
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific insight into what life might be like for a sufferer of...
Part story, primarily observations, this book explores the isolated world of an adolescent child suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Len
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Such an interesting read - I was required to read this for a university course studying autism, but I would recommend outside of studies too.
Published 10 months ago by Liddy Swales
4.0 out of 5 stars Never read a book like this one!
A most amazing read! I cannot think of anything to which I might compare it. Closest I can imagine might be Flowers for Algernon so far as being brought into the perspective of a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. D. John Mclean
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