Mark Haddon uses Christophers condition to show adult behaviours through the eyes of an autistic child. It is simple, effective and at times very frustrating for the reader who 'feels' for how Christopher is treated by people who simply do not understand or have time for him. It also highlights beautifully the confusing lives that adults lead! On the day he is told his mother is dead, he records his Scrabble score, and notes that supper was spaghetti with tomato sauce. But he isn't callous or indifferent. He can cope with facts, with concrete detail; emotions confuse and alarm him.
Charlotte Moore of the Guardian Newspaper says "Autistic people are not easy subjects for novelists. Their interests are prescribed, their experiences static, their interaction with others limited. Haddon ingeniously uses Christopher's admiration for Sherlock Holmes to lead him out of this stasis, not to effect some miraculous "cure", but so that a story can happen. Detective fiction, relying on the accumulation of material facts, is the only fiction that makes sense to Christopher. As he collects facts relating to the death of the dog, he unwittingly pieces together a jigsaw that reveals to the reader the lies, grief and evasions of his parents' lives."