Mark Haddon

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

 

A triumphant autistic fantasy.

 

Haddon manages to write a consistently engaging book from the perspective of an autistic teenager. It’s obviously written by someone who’s not autistic – his non-autistic readers can too easily enjoy the style and the structure – but it’s still an impressive imaginative feat.

 

It’s more than that. It’s very satisfying as a detective novel. Who did kill the dog? And finding that out only invites more questions – bigger and more gripping ones. There’s that lovely twist of the knife when we realise this diverting investigation about other people actually is coming right back to suddenly be very personal. There are plausible surprises that really manage to surprise you, and integrate perfectly with the crime plot.

 

It’s more than that. These characters, Christopher, his family and neighbours, really manage to come across as authentic. They are imperfect, they do good things, bad things, but always understandable things. Sometimes you want to get into the pages and shout at them, but even when they arouse our anger they’ve still got our sympathy.

 

And this is not even to mention the pleasure of Chris’ deadpan narration of constant, often laugh out loud funny, dialogue misunderstandings, nor the thought-provoking philosophical asides. Or the page turning odyssey in Chris’ epic flight to London – as riveting a narrative as any dramatic escape I’ve come across in thrillers.

 

Top stuff. Very original. Good characters. Good episodes. Excellent structure. What else do you want?

 

March 2005