I had avoided reading this award-winning book because I don't like stories about dead dogs. My daughter convinced me that isn't really what it's about and that I should read it. When I did, it occured to me that I had more in common with a fifteen-year old, possibly autistic, schoolboy than I would have imagined.
This is an unusual book. Written in the first person by a boy who struggles to fit in with society, he attempts to write a mystery book in order to solve the crime of who killed a neighbour's dog. He likes Sherlock Holmes, hence the title, red things including food, dogs, maths, science, order and his pet rat. He also likes prime numbers and marvellously numbers the chapters that way.
He doesn't like the colours yellow and brown, crowds, noise, disorder or being touched. He attends a special school but in many ways he is just an ordinary boy with the thought processes and patterns like many others. It is the story of how he copes with difficult situations, with society's rules about safety and hygiene, and coming to terms with family dynamics.
The method of being told from the boy's perspective means that the analysis and logic is wholly his. Like most children, he works things out unconventionally but it makes sense in his mind and he provides evidence to back up his theories, sometimes using diagrams and charts. He is academically able in maths and science and understands that he needs to be well fed and rested to function well.
A simple and yet complex story, beautifully told, original, thoughtful and warming. Highly recommended.
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