Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Book 10: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

By Mark Haddon

Upon first glance, the premise rings very similar to Jonathan Lethem’s ’Motherless Brooklyn’ (scroll to the bottom) featuring an unlikely protagonist-detective with a mental condition determined to solve a murder.

‘Motherless Brooklyn’ has Tourette-afflicted Lionel trying to find out who killed his boss. ‘The Curious Incident’ has 15-year-old autistic math savant, Christopher, using his peculiar logistical skills to figure out who killed his neighbour’s poodle.

But where ‘Motherless’ plays like a straight-up homage to the hard-boiled detective genre, ‘Curious’ is more like a post-modern Hardy Boy. The dog-killer is actually revealed to Christopher in the middle of the story, so not much of a conventional mystery novel there. Ultimately, it’s a heartfelt story about a family dealing with the hardships of raising an autistic child which is told via the kid’s idiosyncratic POV and the odd quirky illustration.

Curious received much critical praise, was on a number of best-selling lists, and won a few awards, so you’ll find lots of online reviews if you’re interested in finding out more.