Tag Archive: Mark Haddon

Jun 15

Book Review – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

WHAT’S PLAYING: Solomon Burke “The Judgment”

This week’s second book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.



Christopher Boone is a 15-year old autistic savant in Swindon,England. He hates being touched, cannot tell a lie, or understand metaphors or jokes. He is a whiz at math and enjoys puzzles. When he finds Wellington, the neighbor’s poodle, skewered on a pitchfork, he sets out to solve the mystery and write a true account of his detective work. In doing so, he stumbles upon the messy, illogical, emotionally complicated secrets of his parents and their neighbors.

I absolutely loved this book. I started reading it after breakfast and didn’t look up again until I was done. The thing that makes this book so compulsively readable is Christopher who, despite his autism or maybe even because of it, is a beautifully rendered, original and nuanced character. Haddon puts us deep inside Christopher’s mind, so deep in fact, that I found myself questioning the common sense and erratic emotionalism of the so-called normal people around him.

His solo journey from Swindon to London is just as suspenseful and harrowing as any scene in a hardboiled detective novel. He literally sees everything around him and is unable to edit the onslaught of sensory data in a new environment. And he is afraid of strangers and ill-equipped to ask for their help.

In fact, Christopher is ultimately more hard-boiled than any gumshoe in previous detective fiction. Unlike Sam Spade or Nick Charles, he has no sentimental streak, no underground reservoir of emotional identification with other human beings — although he is fond of dogs.

This book is a prime example of how character defines story. In the hands of a less talented author or told by any other narrator, the plot would have felt melodramatic and maybe even a bit boring. But Haddon manages to pull it off without a hitch. An excellent read!


Favorite Line/Image:  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 s if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this.


Bottom Line:  Read it! Read it now! Seriously, why aren’t you reading it yet?


Coming Up Next: Pay Me in Flesh by K. Bennet


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Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/06/book-review-the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/

Jun 12

Book Review – Heartless by Gail Carriger

WHAT’S PLAYING: The Cataracs feat. Dev “Top of the World”

I’ve fallen woefully behind on my book a week challenge, so I decided to up the ante to two books a week.

This week’s first book is Heartless by Gail Carriger.

Alexia Tarabotti is back! Eight months pregnant and as formidable as ever. When a ghost appears with a garbled message that seems to indicate a supernatural plot to assassinate Queen Victoria, Alexia leaps (or rather waddles) into action and starts digging into the past. To do this, she enlists the help of her longtime friends, the vampire Lord Akeldama and Ivy Turnstell née Hisselpenny. All this while her sister Felicity is trying to genteelly run away from their parents by moving in with Alexia and joining the suffragette movement. But Lady Maccon has another problem – the vampire hives want her dead because of the child she carries.

Alexia Maccon is one of the best protagonists I’ve ever come across. She’s independent, strong, intelligent and fierce. I love how she forges ahead through even the most difficult circumstances with practicality, calm, and of course, tea. Though her powers are not extensive or miraculous when compared to her supernatural companions, she still manages to be awesome.

If I had to pick one thing to complain about, it would be the plot. It just moved slower than in the other books, and a couple of the twists were obvious red herrings that I could have done without.

Still, I have to say it was wonderful to visit with Alexia and friends once again and, as usual, Carriger’s world building left me in awe.

Favorite Line/Image: They poured out the lower doors and windows of the castle, howling to the skies. They evolved into a kind of cohesive moving liquid, flowing down the hillside as one silvered blob, like mercury on a scientist’s palm. The howling became deafening as they neared, and they were swifter than Alexia remembered, full of eternal rage at a world that forced such a cost of immortality upon them. Any human would flee, and Alexia could see that even the vampires were tempted to run away from the massive supernatural force charging toward them.

At the front ran the biggest of the lot, a brindled wolf with yellow eyes, intent on but one thing—a smell on the evening breeze. It was the scent of mate, and lover, and partner, and fear, and something new coming. Near to that, twining with it, was the scent of young boy, fresh meat to be consumed. Underneath was the smell of rotten flesh and old bloodlines—other predators invading his territory. Dominating it all was the odor of industry, a monstrous machine, another enemy.

Bottom Line: Once again, Gail Carriger delivers a wonderful romp, replete with mannerly humor and humorous manners.


Coming Up Next: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon



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Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/06/book-review-heartless-by-gail-carriger/