Curious Kid Unravels ‘Curious Incident’

SAVANT TEENAGER CONDUCTS MURDER MYSTERY

By Trey McConnell
Valencia Voice

Mark Haddon’s bitterly funny debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a disenchanted murder mystery of all aspects; portrayed by an autistic version of Adrian Monk.

Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of the novel, finds peace by groaning and doing math problems in his head, turning the radio dial in between stations to hear the white noise, and fabricating arbitrary patterns (five days later I saw 5 red cars in a row, which made it a Super Good Day, and I knew that something special was going to happen.”)

Although almost everyone thinks of him as abnormal, it’s far more involved and requires patience to understand such a fragile teenager. Christopher excels in maths and sciences but the problem derives from his lack of the intuitive concept, “theory of mind”. He is virtually wired with minimal social skills.

When the next-door neighbor’s poodle, Wellington, is brutally murdered and Christopher is found there holding him in his arms, he is a quick target of suspicion and is falsely accused.

Knowing he was just tending to the dog (Christopher loves dogs because he knows what they’re thinking all the time) he decides to imitate Sherlock Holmes, his favorite character, and set off on a perilous journey to find out who murdered him.

With the encouragement of Christopher’s social worker, Siobhan, he decides to write his own murder mystery, which navigates his complete, chaotic tale of boldly interacting with strangers and even spending one night in jail.

As the conundrum unwinds and he begins to discover the missing details of his parent’s tattered marriage, Christopher battles the complex emotions of the world. His only chance to solve the mystery and complete his book is to rebel against his father’s command.

He constructs literal-minded observations, almost poetic in their prose, to avoid breaking his promise to his father. While unraveling the poignant enigma, he must resort to deductive logic to better understand the social complexities of the world.

Haddon, a first-time novelist, successfully formulates an elaborate plot and devises the perfect, sophisticated yet complicated, narrator who labels his chapters only in prime numbers; while presenting graphs and diagrams of intricate theories like the universe collapsing into a massive black hole.

Twisting and turning on almost every page of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time dawns a new concept of storytelling and proves Haddon to be a compelling literary voice.