dirk gently's holistic detective agencyDouglas Adams
Pocket Books
1987

This time there was just the dead earth, a rumble of thunder, and the onset of that interminable light drizzle from the northeast by which so many of the world’s most momentous events seem to be accompanied.

There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it.  But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time-traveller, and the devastating secret of humankind!

To the casual reader of the sci-fi genre, the name of Douglas Adams is understandably tied to the much-loved (and deservedly so) Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series.  Beyond that, Adams did write other stores and for other media, including television and radio.  One of other series of books – two of ’em, sadly – involve the inspired madness that was the Dirk Gently character.

From what I understand, the primary impetus for the first novel in the two Dirk Gently books – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – came about from two scripts Adams wrote for the television show Doctor Who, and a few incidence that happened to Adams while attending University.  Described by Adams himself as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic” on the cover…yeah, that would be exactly what I would expect to hear the author himself say.  In that dry pithy British way of his.

As far as the book goes, well…let’s see.  We have a (loosest sense of the word, here) “protagonist” that is a wishy-washy, pompous jerk that really can’t be bothered to do much of anything, let alone ply his trade and more or less bumbled into his cases by accident, and won’t pay his secretary.  Then there’s that professor in the University whose apartment is a time machine, where a horse appears in his bathroom out of nowhere, a couch that is impossibly stuck in a hallway, a time traveling antagonist who wishes to prevent life from developing on Earth, and somehow “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” factors in there somehow.

Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency is an absurd, spastic, and irreverent novel that took me a bit longer than most to make through, mostly due to the sheer insanity of the prose.  In other words, it’s a book only Douglas Adams could write.  And if his style of (for lack of a better example, I guess) gonozo absurdism is something you fancy, then you shall enjoy this little trick into wackiness.

Advertisements