I’ll start with what I found most curious about this book and that is that we are supposed to believe that the owner of the titular dog does not press charges against the person who kills her dog in the most horrible of fashions – by stabbing it with a garden fork. As a dog lover I find it almost improbable that the women, who reportedly doted on her pet, would not press charges. While I can understand the main character’s dismissal of the event once he’s solved it through his ‘detecting’ I was uncomfortable with the killing being pretty much dismissed in the plot.
That aside I think this was a very enjoyable read and like the Neil Gaiman book I read recently it was a lucky find at the local Sue Ryder charity shop. This one should have only cost me 50p, but I gave them a quid and for that price I was happy enough that I got my money’s worth.
Christopher, the main character and narrator, is a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s who has some very interestingly unique thoughts and observations on the minutiae of life. The story is more about his complicated and sometimes violent family life, his coping with the rest of the world and his condition induced hang-ups, than the dead dog, and specifically about the split between his mother and father and their interactions with the neighbours.
There are inevitably quite a few mathematical references which a lot of readers will probably not really be interested in, not least of all a totally unnecessary Appendix with a right-angled triangle proof, and I found that Haddon had not really made them accessible to readers without a mathematical background. I’ve done Maths a lot and I skipped a few sections just to get to the next bit of the proper story. Haddon’s excuse of course will be that the writer (Christopher) was obsessively interested in these things and that’s why they’re in Christopher’s book – the conceit being that his teacher suggested he write it.
I’m not entirely sure why it won Whitbread Book of the Year in its original year of publication, but it certainly was thought-provoking, heart-warming and at times amusing.