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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
Front cover of first edition
(quote from Ian McEwan)
Author(s) Mark Haddon
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Mystery novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape (UK)
Doubleday (US)
Publication date May 2003
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Pages 226
ISBN 0-09-945025-9
OCLC Number 59267481

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. Its title quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story " Silver Blaze". Haddon and The Curious Incident won the Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

The novel is narrated in the first-person perspective by Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties" living in Swindon, Wiltshire. Although Christopher's condition is not stated, the book's blurb refers to Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome. In July 2009, Haddon wrote on his blog that "curious incident is not a book about asperger’s....if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. The book is not specifically about any specific disorder," and that he is not an expert on autism spectrum disorder or Asperger syndrome.


Christopher John Francis Boone
The 15-year-old protagonist of the novel, who investigates the murder of Mrs. Shears' large black poodle.
Ed Boone
Christopher's father, a boiler engineer. Prior to the beginning of the story, he has been living with Christopher as a single parent for two years.
Judy Boone
Christopher's mother. Early in the book, Christopher writes that she died of a heart attack two years before the book's events.
Christopher's para-professional and mentor at school. She teaches him how society works and how to behave within its complex guidelines.
Mr Roger Shears
One of the neighbours who lived near the Boones, but has left his wife before the story begins.
Mrs Eileen Shears
Mr Shears's wife, who attempts to console Ed for a time after Christopher learns of his mother's death.
Mrs Alexander
An old lady, who is one of Christopher's neighbours, who offers information to help Christopher's investigation regarding his parents and Mr and Mrs Shears.
Mrs. Shears' large black poodle, which Christopher finds dead in her garden, with a garden fork sticking out of him.


Christopher, a fifteen-year-old boy with an autistic spectrum condition, lives with his father; he explains that his mother, Judy, died two years ago. He discovers the dead body of Wellington, the neighbour's dog, speared by a garden fork. Mrs Shears, Wellington's owner, calls the police, and Christopher comes under suspicion. When a policeman touches him, he hits the policeman, and is arrested, then released with a caution. He decides to investigate the dog's death, despite his father's orders to stay out of other people's business. However, he is severely limited by his fears and difficulties when interpreting the world around him. Throughout his adventures, Christopher records his experiences in a book: a "murder mystery novel". During his investigation, Christopher meets people whom he has never before encountered, even though they live on the same street, including the elderly Mrs Alexander, who informs Christopher that his mother had an affair with Mr Shears and had been with him for a long time.

Ed, his father, discovers the book and confiscates it from Christopher, after a brief fight between them. While searching for the confiscated book, Christopher uncovers a trove of letters which his mother wrote to him, dated after her supposed death, which his father has also hidden. He is so shocked by his father lying about his mother's death that he is unable to move, curls up on the bed, vomits and groans for several hours until his father returns home. Ed realizes that Christopher has read the letters and cleans him up. He then confesses that he had indeed lied about Judy's death and also that it was he who killed Wellington, stating that it was a mistake resulting from his anger after a heated argument with Mrs Shears. Christopher, having lost all trust in his father and fearing that Ed may try to kill him since he had already killed the dog, runs away. Guided by his mother's address from the letters, he embarks on an adventurous trip to London, where his mother lives with Mr Shears.

After a long and event-filled journey, evading policemen, and feeling ill from the overwhelmingly large amount of information and stimuli from the trains and crowds around him, he finally finds his way to his mother and Mr Shears' home, and waits outside until they arrive. Judy is delighted that Christopher has come to her; she cannot believe that Ed would tell Christopher that she was dead. Mr Shears does not want Christopher living with them and never did. Moreover, very soon after arriving, Christopher wants to return to Swindon in order to take his mathematics A-level. His mother leaves Mr Shears, their relationship having broken down because of the conflict and his rejection of Christopher. Judy then moves into a rented room in Swindon, and after an argument with Ed, agrees to let Ed meet Christopher for daily brief visits. However, Christopher remains terrified of his father and makes repeated attempts to prevent him from talking. He hopes Ed will be imprisoned for killing Wellington. The story ends with Ed getting Christopher a pet dog, and promising that he will rebuild trust with Christopher slowly, "no matter how long it takes". Christopher asserts that he will take further A-level exams and attend university. He completes his first mathematics A-level with top grades and, despite previously wanting to be an astronaut, his ultimate goal is to become a scientist. The book ends with Christopher optimistic about his future, having solved the mystery of the murdered dog, gone to London on his own, found his mother, written a book about his adventures, and achieved an A* in his A-level maths exam. Christopher goes on to live with his mother, and occasionally visits his father's house.


The book is dedicated to Sos Eltis with thanks to Kathryn Heyman, Clare Alexander, Kate Shaw and Dave Cohen.


The book was joint winner of the 2004 Boeke Prize, won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year award and sold more than two million copies. Haddon states on his official website that he knows "very little" about Asperger's syndrome and that Christopher Boone is inspired by two different people. According to Haddon, none of these people can be labelled as having a disability. Haddon added that he "slightly regret[s]" that the term Asperger's syndrome appeared on the cover of his novel. More recently, in an interview with The Independent, however, he stated that he is "now thoroughly irritated" that this term appeared on the cover because people imagined that he was an expert on the subject and kept contacting and asking him to appear at lectures about autism.

Stage adaptation

A stage adaptation, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, premièred at the National Theatre on 2 August 2012.

The production, which runs until late October 2012, will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on Thursday 6 September 2012 through the National Theatre Live programme.

The show is transferring to the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, from March to May 2013.

Film adaptation

A film adaptation, written and directed by Steve Kloves, is currently being planned.

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