It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the
middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears’ house. Its eyes were
closed. It looked as 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
I went through Mrs Shears’ gate, closing it behind me. I walked
onto her lawn and knelt beside 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 on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the
Wellington was a poodle. Not one of the small poodles that have
hairstyles but a big poodle. It had curly black fur, but when you got
close you could see that the skin underneath the fur was a very 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 and their capital cities and every prime number
up to 7,057.
Eight years ago, when I first met Siobhan, she showed me this picture
and I knew that it meant ‘sad,’ which is what I felt when I
found the dead dog.
Then she showed me this picture
and I knew that it meant ‘happy’, like when I’m
reading about the Apollo space missions, or when I am still awake at 3
am or 4 am in the morning and I can walk up and down the street and
pretend that I am the only person in the whole world.
Then she drew some other pictures
[various happy, sad, confused, surprised faces]
but 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 they meant. I kept the piece the piece of paper in my
pocket and took it out when I didn’t understand what someone was
saying. But it was very difficult to decide which of the diagrams was
most like the face they were making because people’s faces move
When I told Siobhan that I was doing this, she got out a pencil and
another piece of paper and said it probably made people feel very
and then she laughed. So I tore the original piece of paper up and threw
it away. And Siobhan apologised. And now if I don’t know what
someone is saying I ask them what they mean or I walk away. 5.I
pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged
him. He was leaking blood from the fork-holes.
I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods.
Happy, sad, cross and 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 towards me from the patio. She was
wearing pyjamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink
and she had no shoes on.
She was shouting, "What in fuck’s name have you done to my
I do not like people shouting at me. It makes me scared that they are
going to hit me or touch me 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 metres.
She bent down. I thought she was going to pick the dog up herself, but
she didn’t. Perhaps she noticed 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 with my 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 books about science and maths. I do not like proper
novels. In proper novels people say things like, "I am veined with
iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud. I cannot contract into
the firm fist which those clench who do not depend on stimulus" .
What does this mean? I do not know. Nor does Father. Nor do Siobhan or
Mr Jeavons. I have asked them.
Siobhan has long blonde 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 in each of them.
But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery
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. Siobhan said
that the book should begin with something to grab people’s
attention. That is why I started with the dog. I also started with the
dog because it happened to me and I find it hard to imagine things which
did not happen to me.
Siobhan read the first page and said that it was different. She put this
word into inverted commas by making the wiggly quotation sign with her
first and second fingers. She said that it was usually people who were
killed in murder mystery novels. I said that two dogs were killed in
The Hound of the Baskervilles, the hound itself and James
Mortimer’s spaniel, but Siobhan said they weren’t the
victims of the murder, Sir Charles Baskerville was. She said that this
was because readers cared more about people than dogs, so if a person
was killed in the book readers would want to carry on reading.
I said that I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who
had died but I did not know any people who had been killed, except
Edward’s father from school, Mr Paulson, and that was a gliding
accident, not murder, and I didn’t really know him. I also said
that I cared about dogs because they were faithful and honest, and some
dogs were cleverer and more interesting than some people. Steve, for
example, who comes to centre on Thursdays, needs help to eat his food
and 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 you know what they are meant
to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman. The policewoman
had a little hole in her tights on her left ankle and a red scratch in
the middle of the hole. The policeman had a big orange leaf stuck to the
bottom of his shoe which was poking out from one side.
The policewoman put her arms round Mrs Shears and led her back towards
I lifted my head off the grass.
The policeman squatted down beside me and said, "Would you like to
tell me what’s going on here, 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 to see that the dog was dead.
I like policemen, too, and I wanted to answer the question properly, but
the policeman did not give me enough time to work out the correct
"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 stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle
Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing
machines. And sometimes the slicer is not working fast enough but the
bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind
as a machine, but not always as 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 noise that Father calls groaning. I make this noise when
there is too much information coming into my head from the outside
world. It is like when you are upset and you hold the radio against your
ear and you tune it halfway between two stations so that all you get is
white noise and then you turn the volume right up so that this is all
you can hear and then you know you are safe because you cannot hear
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. Here is 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, and they are 1)
drawn with a pencil, 2) exhausted, and 3) pulled across a
window, and meaning 1 refers to both the face and the curtains,
meaning 2 refers only to the face, and meaning 3 refers
only to the curtains.
If I try to say the joke to myself, making the word mean the three
different things at the same time, it is like hearing three different
pieces of music at the same time which is uncomfortable and confusing
and not nice like white noise. It is like three people trying to talk to
you at the same time about 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 arresting you for assaulting a police officer."
This made me feel a lot calmer because it is what policeman 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 try any 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 back door and I got inside. He climbed into the
driver’s seat and made a call on his radio to the policewoman 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 pick you up."
And she said, "Sure. I’ll catch you later."
The policeman said, "Okey-doke," and we drove off.
The police car smelt of hot plastic and aftershave and take-away chips.
I watched the sky as we drove towards the town centre. It was a clear
night and you could see the Milky Way.
Some people think the Milky Way is a long line of stars, but it
isn’t. Our galaxy is a huge disc of stars millions of light years
across and the solar system is somewhere near the outside edge of the
When you look in direction A, at 90º to the disc, you don’t
see many stars. But when you look in direction B, you see lots more
stars because you are looking into the main body of the galaxy, and
because the galaxy is a disc you see a stripe of stars.
And then I thought about how, for a long time scientists were puzzled by
the fact that the sky is dark at night, even though there are billions
of stars in the universe and there must be stars in every direction you
look, so that the sky should be full of starlight because there is very
little in the way to stop the light 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 they were moving, some of
them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which was why their light
never reached us. I like this fact. It is something you can work out in
your own mind just by looking at the sky above 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 has been thrown into the air, and they will come
to a halt and they will all begin to fall towards the centre of the
universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us seeing all the
stars in the world because they will all be moving towards us, gradually
faster and faster, and we will know that the world 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. They will probably have become extinct by then. And
even if there are people still in existence they will not see it because
the light will be so bright and hot that everyone will be burnt to
death, even if they live in tunnels. 19.Chapters in books are
usually given the cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6 and so on. But I have decided to give my
chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7,
11, 13 and so on because I like prime numbers.
This is how you work out what prime numbers are.
First, you write down all the positive whole numbers in the world. 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11121314151617181920 21222324252627282930
31323334353637383940 414243444546474849etc. Then you take
away all the numbers that are multiples of 2. Then you take away all the
numbers that are multiples of 3. Then you take away all the numbers that
are multiples of 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and so on. The numbers that are
left are the prime numbers. 2357 11131719 2329 3137 414347etc.
The rule for working out prime numbers is really simple, but no
one has ever worked out a simple formula for telling you whether a very
big number is a prime number or what the next one will be.
Excerpted from "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon. Copyright © 2004 by Mark Haddon. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.