RED book 2: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams


So here’s the real reason I was slightly annoyed at not writing up Ringworld sooner – I’d already finished book 2. I’d like to go no more than a few days without blogging about a book once I complete it.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is another re-read and it was prompted both by me thinking about it recently and by being one of the books for January of the UK Kindle Users group on Goodreads.

Dirk Gently is an unusual private detective in that he approaches his cases using his belief in the “fundamental connectedness of all things”, a practice which allows him to charge for seemingly unrelated expenses such as a trip to Bermuda when looking for your lost cat. This particular case involves a murder, an absent-minded professor, a horse in a bathroom, ghosts. a sofa stuck halfway up the stairs and an Electric Monk. To explain the plot too much would be pointless as part of the fun is in discovering how these apparently disparate elements are in fact interconnected after all. Also it would sound like a mess but it really isn’t. It’s easy to forget because he’s so playful but Adams was very clever and the ideas he throws around are just as clever and profound as in, well in anything I’m likely to read anyway.

Time and familiarity has dulled the pleasure of this book a little but not that much. I enjoyed reading about Schroedinger’s Cat again (this was the book that introduced me to the concept). I liked his description of the wane of the home computer boom of the early 80s as the point “when every twelve-year-old in the country had suddenly got bored with boxes that went bing”. I like so many little touches and jokes that made me smile. However unlike the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books it is more a novel than a collection of funny scenes and ideas. It also benefits I think from not having been constantly rehashed through just about every media possible as HHGTTG was. I think I slightly prefer the sequel, which as with Ringworld contains favourite passages that I thought were in this one. But that’s balanced by there being scenes in this that I’d forgotten and enjoyed all the more for re-discovering them.

Like Ringworld I also have a “minor irritation” with an idea that’s in this book but it probably deserves a blog post of its own to explain why. We’ll see if I’m up for that or not.

I’m starting to think that 2012 might be the year of book series – I’ll probably read some more Discworld books, I’ll finish the Straw Men trilogy and have already admitted to wanting to read the Ringworld books – so I am tempted to re-read The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul which is the sequel and possibly even The Salmon of Doubt which is the unfinished 3rd book (although unfinished books are frustrating for obvious reasons).

8/10 – It really is all interconnected – and a readable comic scifi mystery.




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About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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