Mark HaddonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMark HaddonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThis book is dedicated to SosWith thanks to Kathryn Heyman, Clare Alexander, Kate Shaw andDave Cohen2. 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, theway dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running orasleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the forkmust have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallenover. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any otherwounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died forsome other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain aboutthis.I went through Mrs. Shears’s gate, closing it behind me. I walked onto her lawn and kneltbeside 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 onthe opposite side of the road, two houses to the left.Wellington was a poodle. Not one of the small poodles that have hairstyles but a big poodle. Ithad curly black fur, but when you got close you could see that the skin underneath the fur was avery pale yellow, like chicken.I stroked Wellington and wondered who had killed him, and why.3. My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world andtheir capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.Eight years ago, when I first met Siobhan, she showed me this pictureand I knew that it meant “sad,” which is what I felt when I found the dead dog.Then she showed me this pictureand I knew that it meant “happy,” like when I’m reading about the Apollo space missions, orwhen I am still awake at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning and I can walk up and down the street andpretend that I am the only person in the whole world.Then she drew some other picturesbut I was unable to say what these meant.I got Siobhan to draw lots of these faces and then write down next to them exactly what theymeant. I kept the piece of paper in my pocket and took it out when I didn’t understand whatsomeone was saying. But it was very difficult to decide which of the diagrams was most like theface they were making because people’s faces move very quickly.When I told Siobhan that I was doing this, she got out a pencil and another piece of paper andsaid it probably made people feel very
and then she laughed. So I tore the original piece of paper up and threw it away. And Siobhanapologized. And now if I don’t know what someone is saying, I ask them what they mean or I walkaway.5. I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He wasleaking blood from the fork holes.I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, crossand concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs.Shears running toward me from the patio. She was wearing pajamas and a housecoat. Her toenailswere painted bright pink and she had no shoes on.She was shouting, “What in fuck’s name have you done to my dog?”I do not like people shouting at me. It makes me scared that they are going to hit me or touchme and I do not know what is going to happen.“Let go of the dog,” she shouted. “Let go of the fucking dog for Christ’s sake.”I put the dog down on the lawn and moved back 2 meters.She bent down. I thought she was going to pick the dog up herself, but she didn’t. Perhaps shenoticed how much blood there was and didn’t want to get dirty. Instead she started screaming again.I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and rolled forward till I was hunched up withmy forehead pressed onto the grass. The grass was wet and cold. It was nice.7. This is a murder mystery novel.Siobhan said that I should write something I would want to read myself. Mostly I read booksabout science and maths. I do not like proper novels. In proper novels people say things like, “I amveined with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud. I cannot contract into the firm fistwhich those clench who do not depend on stimulus.”  What does this mean? I do not know. Nordoes Father. Nor does Siobhan or Mr. Jeavons. I have asked them.Siobhan has long blond hair and wears glasses which are made of green plastic. And Mr.Jeavons smells of soap and wears brown shoes that have approximately 60 tiny circular holes ineach of them.But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery novel.In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them.It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of thebook.Siobhan said that the book should begin with something to grab people’s attention. That iswhy I started with the dog. I also started with the dog because it happened to me and I find it hard toimagine things which did not happen to me.Siobhan read the first page and said that it was different. She put this word into invertedcommas by making the wiggly quotation sign with her first and second fingers. She said that it wasusually people who were killed in murder mystery novels. I said that two dogs were killed in TheHound of the Baskervilles, the hound itself and James Mortimer’s spaniel, but Siobhan said theyweren’t the victims of the murder, Sir Charles Baskerville was. She said that this was becausereaders cared more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in a book, readers would want1 I found this in a book when Mother took me into the library in town in 1996.
to carry on reading.I said that I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who had died but I didnot know any people who had been killed, except Mr. Paulson, Edward’s father from school, andthat was a gliding accident, not murder, and I didn’t really know him. I also said that I cared aboutdogs because they were faithful and honest, and some dogs were cleverer and more interesting thansome people. Steve, for example, who comes to the school on Thursdays, needs help to eat his foodand could not even fetch a stick. Siobhan asked me not to say this to Steve’s mother.11. Then the police arrived. I like the police. They have uniforms and numbers and youknow what they are meant to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman. Thepolicewoman had a little hole in her tights on her left ankle and a red scratch in the middle of thehole. The policeman had a big orange leaf stuck to the bottom of his shoe which was poking outfrom one side.The policewoman put her arms round Mrs. Shears and led her back toward the house.I lifted my head off the grass.The policeman squatted down beside me and said, “Would you like to tell me what’s going onhere, young man?”I sat up and said, “The dog is dead.”“I’d got that far,” he said.I said, “I think someone killed the dog.”“How old are you?” he asked.I replied, “I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.”“And what, precisely, were you doing in the garden?” he asked.“I was holding the dog,” I replied.“And why were you holding the dog?” he asked.This was a difficult question. It was something I wanted to do. I like dogs. It made me sad tosee that the dog was dead.I like policemen, too, and I wanted to answer the question properly, but the policeman did notgive me enough time to work out the correct answer.“Why were you holding the dog?” he asked again.“I like dogs,” I said.“Did you kill the dog?” he asked.I said, “I did not kill the dog.”“Is this your fork?” he asked.I said, “No.”“You seem very upset about this,” he said.He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stackingup in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and heoperates the slicing machines. And sometimes a slicer is not working fast enough but the breadkeeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not alwaysas a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it.The policeman said, “I am going to ask you once again ”I rolled back onto the lawn and pressed my forehead to the ground again and made the noisethat Father calls groaning. I make this noise when there is too much information coming into myhead from the outside world. It is like when you are upset and you hold the radio against your earand you tune it halfway between two stations so that all you get is white noise and then you turn thevolume right up so that this is all you can hear and then you know you are safe because you cannothear anything else.The policeman took hold of my arm and lifted me onto my feet.I didn’t like him touching me like this.And this is when I hit him.
13. This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them. Hereis a joke, as an example. It is one of Father’s.His face was drawn but the curtains were real.I know why this is meant to be funny. I asked. It is because drawn has three meanings, andthey are (1) drawn with a pencil, (2) exhausted, and (3) pulled across a window, and meaning 1refers to both the face and the curtains, meaning 2 refers only to the face, and meaning 3 refers onlyto the curtains.If I try to say the joke to myself, making the word mean the three different things at the sametime, it is like hearing three different pieces of music at the same time, which is uncomfortable andconfusing and not nice like white noise. It is like three people trying to talk to you at the same timeabout different things.And that is why there are no jokes in this book.17. The policeman looked at me for a while without speaking. Then he said, “I am arrestingyou for assaulting a police officer.”This made me feel a lot calmer because it is what policemen say on television and in films.Then he said, “I strongly advise you to get into the back of the police car, because if you tryany of that monkey business again, you little shit, I will seriously lose my rag. Is that understood?”I walked over to the police car, which was parked just outside the gate. He opened the backdoor and I got inside. He climbed into the driver’s seat and made a call on his radio to thepolicewoman, who was still inside the house. He said, “The little bugger just had a pop at me, Kate.Can you hang on with Mrs. S. while I drop him off at the station? I'll get Tony to swing by and pickyou up.”And she said, “Sure. I'll catch you later.”The policeman said, “Okeydoke,” and we drove off.The police car smelled of hot plastic and aftershave and take-away chips.I watched the sky as we drove toward the town center. It was a clear night and you could seethe Milky Way.Some people think the Milky Way is a long line of stars, but it isn’t. Our galaxy is a huge diskof stars millions of light-years across, and the solar system is somewhere near the outside edge ofthe disk.When you look in direction A, at 90 to the disk, you don’t see many stars. But when youlook in direction B, you see lots more stars because you are looking into the main body of thegalaxy, and because the galaxy is a disk you see a stripe of stars.And then I thought about how for a long time scientists were puzzled by the fact that the skyis dark at night, even though there are billions of stars in the universe and there must be stars inevery direction you look, so that the sky should be full of starlight because there is very little in theway to stop the light from reaching earth.Then they worked out that the universe was expanding, that the stars were all rushing away
from one another after the Big Bang, and the further the stars were away from us the faster theywere moving, some of them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which was why their light neverreached us.I like this fact. It is something you can work out in your own mind just by looking at the skyabove your head at night and thinking without having to ask anyone.And when the universe has finished exploding, all the stars will slow down, like a ball that hasbeen thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall toward the centerof the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us from seeing all the stars in the worldbecause they will all be moving toward us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that theworld is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness,just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling.Except that no one will see this because there will be no people left on the earth to see it. Theywill probably have become extinct by then. And even if there are people still in existence, they willnot see it because the light will be so bright and hot that everyone will be burned to death, even ifthey live in tunnels.19. Chapters in books are usually given the cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on. ButI have decided to give my chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and so on because I like primenumbers.This is how you work out what prime numbers are.First you write down all the positive whole numbers in the world.Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 2. Then you take away all thenumbers that are multiples of 3. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 4 and 5and 6 and 7 and so on. The numbers that are left are the prime numbers.The rule for working out prime numbers is really simple, but no one has ever worked out asimple formula for telling you whether a very big number is a prime number or what the next one
will be. If a number is really, really big, it can take a computer years to work out whether it is aprime number.Prime numbers are useful for writing codes and in America they are classed as MilitaryMaterial and if you find one over 100 digits long you have to tell the CIA and they buy it off youfor 10,000. But it would not be a very good way of making a living.Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think primenumbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if youspent all your time thinking about them.23. When I got to the police station they made me take the laces out of my shoes and emptymy pockets at the front desk in case I had anything in them that I could use to kill myself or escapeor attack a policeman with.The sergeant behind the desk had very hairy hands and he had bitten his nails so much thatthey had bled. This is what I had in my pockets:1. A Swiss Army knife with 15 attachments including a wire stripper and a sawand a toothpick and
So I am writing a murder mystery novel. In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book.