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on April 5, 2004
The oddball detective Dirk Gently and his "client" Richard MacDuff go on an investigation to solve a murder, AND save the human race from extinction as well....No one could've expected Douglas Adams to write nothing but "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" books his entire life, and so, in 1987, he began a new series of books centered around a *very* unconventional detective named Dirk Gently, who uses his belief "in the interconnectedness of all things" to solve crimes. His introductory adventure, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency," is a very different creation altogether from the popular "Hitchhiker's Guide" books. Like it says on the back cover, "Dirk Gently" is a combination of ghost, horror, detective, time-travel, and romantic comedy. The results are mixed---the book takes a while to get going (Dirk Gently himself does not physically appear for a LONG time), the story is confusing at times, and it just isn't laugh-out-loud funny like the majority of the "Hitchhiker's" series. But "Dirk Gently" still has it's amusing moments, including the plight of Gordon Way, Richard's relationship with his cello-playing girlfriend, Susan, and Dirk hypnotising Richard into doing something that, for me, was totally unexpected and very, very funny (but I won't spoil it for you). Also, as a fan of the popular sci-fi series, "Doctor Who," which Adams wrote some stories for, I was also delighted to see the appearance of Professor "Reg" Chronotis, a character from Adams' "Doctor Who" story, "Shada," who plays an important role here as well.Unfortunately, Adams gives "Dirk Gently" an ending that only raises more questions than it gives answers. Besides not making any sense (well, not to me, anyway), the ending feels hastily written, as if Adams was racing against the clock to meet a deadline with his publishers, couldn't come up with a *plausible* way for Dirk to save the day, and so, he scribbled down a nonsense scene to end Dirk's adventure with. And also, what happened to the Electric Monk, or Michael Wenton-Weakes? Adams doesn't say. So, in the end, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" is a very mixed bag, but I'm going to give it 3 out of 5 stars because it's still a pretty amusing book, with some pretty amusing characters, and I AM curious to see where Adams takes Dirk next. Alright then, onto the second Dirk Gently book, "The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul".... :-)
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on November 25, 2003
This is a very strange book. Adams himself has described it as a "ghost-horror-detective-time-travel-romantic-comedy-epic, mainly concerned with mud, music and quantum mechanics." It's hard to know who the main character really is. The title character, Dirk Gently, doesn't even appear in the story until almost a hundred pages into the book, and until that time, it seems that the story is really about computer programmer Richard MacDuff. But there are also ghosts involved, an Electric Monk from another world, an over 200-year old professor of chronology, and much else.
The story is a murder mystery, of a sort, and the plot gradually begins to centre around Dirk Gently's holistic concept that all things are fundamentally interconnected with each other. Gently himself is a very amusing and talkative character, and the highlights of the book is whenever he appears. The concept of the Electric Monk, and its purpose for existing, is also very entertaining.
Several elements of the story were salvaged by Adams from earlier ideas he had had when he was writing a few scripts (Shada and City of Death) for the "Dr. Who" show on BBC. And the story also reflects Adams's increasing interest in computers. Another bit of noteworthy trivia is that the publishing rights for this book, and its sequel, before either of them had been written, were sold for two million dollars.
Adams stays true to form, and the book is at times very funny. The solution to the mystery is unusual, to say the least, although the ending, suddenly involving quite a bit of sci-fi, is confusing and abrupt, and it's not exactly spelled out in detail how the world was saved. It is an entertaining read, although I can't help feeling it's not quite what it could have been.
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on May 15, 2004
"Dirk Gently's Holistic Dectective Agency" is an OK book. It is a different kind of mystery, as Douglas Adams intended. However, I found this book quite inferior to the "Hitchhiker" series, as it did not have that same pizzaz. Basically, there has been a murder, and some try to solve it. Dirk, the detective in the title who doens't appear until about 1/2 way through, is not interested in solving the murder, no, he wants to know why Richard McDuff, an employee of the victim, climbed into his girlfriend's flat. That McDuff's girlfriend is the victim's sister is beside the point. Dirk feels that all things are interconnected, and also wants to figure out how an old professor managed to do an impossible trick. Soon, we discover, the prof has a time machine, and there is a ghost who wants to reverse a billion year old error, which would mean the end of all life. A few chuckles, but mostly headscratching.
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