Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

In Mark Haddon's 2003 mystery novel, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," a teen named Christopher investigates the seemingly-random murder of his neighbor's dog. The rub is that Christopher has an unspecified autism spectrum disorder: he is unable to lie, gets fixated on trivial matters for hours, and cannot easily read other people. But Christopher has a gifted mathematical mind and unyielding persistence. Can he figure out what happened to the dog? And what darker truths will he uncover in the process?

I have fond memories of reading "Flowers for Algernon" back in middle school, and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" evoked most of the same feelings. Like Daniel Keyes's classic, the book's journal entries are fun to read because they're from a narrator whose mind works just a bit differently. An ordinary detective might not go into the homunculus fallacy or the Monty Hall problem while talking about a case, but Christopher does. All in all, Haddon has done a great job of portraying a living, breathing character who happens to be autistic

Like all mysteries, the story loses some steam when the twist is revealed, and the denouement is a little pat for my taste. Still, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is a fine choice for your holiday reading.


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