Mark Haddon’s first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, was, you remember, a publisher’s dream. Not only did it win pretty much every award going, it also pulled off that remarkable – and highly lucrative – feat of straddling two markets. A charming insight into the mind of a fifteen-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome, it was a huge hit with both adults and children alike. So the first question to be asked about his second novel is: Can he do it again? One has to read less than a third of A Spot of Bother to answer: He hasn’t even tried.
It will be interesting to see how this book is marketed. There is a public duty to prevent any twelve-year-old fans of A Curious Incident… from spending their book-tokens on this one. If they are not, these days, worried about a bit of masturbation, they are probably not quite ready