The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’s house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this.
I went through Mrs. Shears’s gate, closing it behind me. I walked onto her lawn and knelt beside the dog. I put my hand on the muzzle of the dog. It was still warm.
The dog was called Wellington. It belonged to Mrs. Shears, who was our friend. She lived on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the left.
Wellington was a poodle. Not one of the small that have hairstyles but a big poodle. It had curly black fur, but when you got close you could see that the skin underneath the fur was very pale yellow, like chicken.
I stroked Wellington and wondered who had killed him, and why.
Thus begins Mark Haddon’s wonderful novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). And it is a curious book indeed.
The novel is narrated by fifteen-year-old Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. This makes for a very interesting narrative style, which is intriguing to read. One of the implications of this is in the way the chapters are numbered: his love of prime numbers leads to him skipping all others. He starts at chapter 2, followed by 3, 5, 7 and so on – an interesting play with convention by author Mark Haddon. Christopher has problems understanding people and emotions, but he is very good at maths and logic, and takes it upon himself to investigate the death of Wellington. His investigation into the dog’s death leads to life-altering discoveries for himself and his family.
The novel is funny, interesting, strange, exciting and extremely well written. Christopher is a surprisingly believable character, one who you will not soon forget. If you’ve missed out on this little pearl of contemporary fiction, I strongly advise you to remedy this.