#2 – ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’, Douglas Adams

‘Dirk Gently…’, Douglas Adams- 8.2/10

Finished on: 05.02.2016

“Gordon Way’s astonishment at being suddenly shot dead was nothing compared to his astonishment at what happened next.”

Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Douglas Adams is famous for writing ‘A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ however, upon finding this book on a discrete book stall, in a market in Rome, I decided to read ‘Dirk Gently’ first. This book is a perfect, smooth blend of comedy and science fiction from the first bite to the last swallow of words, and Adams himself rates it as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic”.

Another example of multiple P.O.Vs (viewpoints) for effect, the story of the eccentric band of characters and their often individual, often not, exploration of complex ideas about space and time was fascinating, humorous and really created a sense of identity for each characters. Shrouded in mystery and history; from Cambridge to Salaxan past, I thoroughly enjoyed the effortlessness of Adams’ writing on the rollercoaster of laughter and confusion that the book takes on.

Douglas Adams also stitches his characters up to be engaging, with a certain reality in their personalities, but he wasn’t wrong with his 12 word genre description. Though initially, the book seems to be a compilation of seemingly unrelated events, there’s more than a handful of “oh!” moments in store with this novel. Though it has been reviewed to be of the same substance of the ‘Hitchhiker’ books, I would argue that this isn’t so much a negative; there are enough differences in style/technique and plot for ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ to be as rewarding a stand-alone book!

LIKED: The references to Samuel Coleridge were particularly well received! He is one of my granddad’s favourite Romantic poets, and the poems ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ feature prominently in the novel, the latter being a poem I often heard recited in my childhood! I also liked the Sofa Problem (as Adams himself writes, “Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn’t have an answer to.”), and the carefree but accurate nature of the plot!

‘Dirk Gently …’ has recently been made into a BBC America show, also on Netflix. This TV adaptation is refreshingly different and with a whole host of new characters and new mysteries, it was almost as enjoyable as my first read of the book!



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