Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)

ISBN: 0671746723
ISBN 13: 9780671746728
By: Douglas Adams

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About this book

What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge). To find out more, read this book (better still, buy it, then read it) – or contact Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

Reader's Thoughts

Ismael Galvan

Weird and weird and British and weird. That's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective. I just finished Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and needed a second helping of Douglas Adams's zany imagination. I looked up what other works he's done and was like, "Holy @%*! Batman, Adams wrote a detective novel!" A trip to the book store later, I held Dirk Gently in my hands.The beginning has a slow start up. I kept waiting for a story to form. The scenes were nice but where was the plot? And where the hell is this so-called holistic detective I'm so anxious to meet? For a minute I seized by unsettling though, "Oh crap, I spent 1,100 Yen on a dud! I knew I should have went with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe."No! I know Adams wouldn't take my beer money in so cruel a fashion. Then somewhere, a little late by my liking yet happily nonetheless, the magical Adams magic splashed across the pages like a spilled glass of Gargle Blaster. It got stranger, psychedelic-er, sci-fi-er, paranormal-er, and then, AND THEN, I was searching books forums to explain the ending.And then I said, "Oh, well I didn't know who the hell Sam Coleridge was."Despite this speed-bump, I dug this book. It has a darker and more subdued tone than the Hitchhiker's series. I'm anxious to read book two.

Shurrn

I am a firm believer that a bit of British humor is good for the soul...And I am quite American, in case you did not know... “Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see?” Douglas Adams has a highly quotable, laugh out loud writing style which I adore; I seem to remember a blurb describing this book as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with significantly fewer spaceships (I apologize that my memory fails on whom I heard this from) I can't think of a better description myself.This book will forever be on my list of favorite books of all time.There's really not much more I can say about it which could express my love. Some of My Favorite Moments: (view spoiler)[“Hello, Michael? Yes, it’s Susan. Susan Way. You said I shouldcall you if I was free this evening and I said I’d rather be dead in aditch, remember? Well, I suddenly discover that I am free, absolutely,completely and utterly free, and there isn’t a decent ditch for milesaround. Make your move while you’ve got your chance is my advice toyou. I’ll be at the Tangiers Club in half an hour.”“The teacher usually learns morethan the pupil. Isn’t that true?”“It would be hard to learn much less than my pupils,” came a lowgrowl from somewhere on the table, “without undergoing a pre-frontallobotomy.”...he walked a little like an affrontedheron.The other was small, roundish, and moved with an ungainlyrestlessness, like a number of elderly squirrels trying to escape froma sack.“It seems odd,don’t you think, that the quality of the food should vary inverselywith the brightness of the lighting. Makes you wonder what culinaryheights the kitchen staff could rise to if you confined them to perpetual darkness.”“Well,” said Reg, in a loudly confidential whisper, as if introducing the subject of nipple-piercing in a nunnery, “I hear you’vesuddenly done very well for yourself, at last, hmmm?”“Did you know, young lady,” said Watkin to her, “that the Book of Revelation was written on Patmos? It was indeed. By Saint John the Divine, as you know. To me it shows very clear signs of having been written while waiting for a ferry. Oh, yes, I think so. It starts off, doesn’t it, with that kind of dreaminess you get when you’re killing time, getting bored, you know, just making things up, and then gradually grows to a sort of climax of hallucinatory despair. I find that very suggestive.”Pink valleys, hermaphrodite tables, these were all natural stages through which one had to pass on the path to true enlightenment.The door was the way to…to…The Door was The Way.Good.Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn’t have a good answer to.By means of an ingenious series of strategically deployed denials of the most exciting and exotic things, he was able to create the myth that he was a psychic, mystic, telepathic, fey, clairvoyant, psychosassic vampire bat.What did “psychosassic” mean?It was his own word and he vigorously denied that it meantanything at all.“Or maybe she decided that an evening with your old tutor would be blisteringly dull and opted for the more exhilarating course of washing her hair instead. Dear me, I know what I would have done. It’s only lack of hair that forces me to pursue such a hectic social round these days.”Gordon Way was dead, but he simply hadn’t the slightest idea whathe was meant to do about it. It wasn’t a situation he had encountered before."...I bet that even the very lowest form of dysentery amoeba shows up to take its girlfriend out for a quick trot around the stomach lining once in a while...”Richard reflected that Dirk’s was a face into which too much had already been put. What with that and the amount he talked, the traffic through his mouth was almost incessant. His ears, on the other hand, remained almost totally unused in normal conversation.“Exploiting?” asked Dirk. “Well, I suppose it would be if any body ever paid me, but I do assure you, my dear Richard, that there never seems to be the remotest danger of that...”“Let us go. Let us leave this festering hell hole. Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not effit after all.”“Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see?”“Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coinand the catflap!”“The what?” said Richard.“The catflap! A device of the utmost cunning, perspicuity and invention. It is a door within a door, you see, a…”“Yes,” said Richard, “there was also the small matter of gravity.”“Gravity,” said Dirk with a slightly dismissive shrug, “yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely adiscovery. It was there to be discovered.”He took a penny out of his pocket and tossed it casually on to the pebbles that ran alongside the paved pathway.“You see?” he said, “They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later. But the catflap…ah, there is a very different matter. Invention, pure creative invention.”“...If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands.”“Now. Having saved the entire human race from extinction I could do with a pizza...”(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Bernardo

I did not like this book. I can see my choice to not read it was right on the money.I must say I was very disappointed. I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide series, so I had high expectations for another tounge-in-cheek story.It just goes to show that just because lots of critics think something is good doesn't mean it will be good.*SPOILERS AHEAD*The whole book drags for the first 3/4. Similar to HHG, the are various stories happening in parallel. But, unlikle HHG, the stories don't get connected in the end. The whole electronic monk thing was annoying. Also, the time travel component with the alien ship that was ultimately responsible for creation of life on Earth was yet another rehash of Ray Bradbury's time travel story where dinosuars are hunted.Also, for a book with the title 'Dirk' in it, a good part of the book doesn't involve Dirk. Dirk only comes in about after the midway point. And, one we meet Dirk, I found him very annoying. I wasn't sure to dismiss Dirk or punch him in the mouth.I have no plans to read the rest of this series, but I am glad I read it. Now I know that it really wasn't that good.

Rob Poole

I finished the Dirk Gently book. I read it mostly in one sitting. I did like it, but I will admit that it seems like this book was only setting up characters and ideas for a better book. While I liked Dirk Gently as a character, I can't say that I very much liked any of the other characters, except for maybe the Electric Monk. The cast of boring Brits only seemed to serve as fodder for Dirk to quietly weasel his way into this strange world. Also, things seemed to happen relatively fast throughout the novel. One moment Richard is talking to Reg and then the next Gordon is dead and Richard is to blame and then the next Richard is off the hook and Michael is possessed by a ghost and trying to use a time machine that we only just discovered even exists. As a mystery the novel isn't very mysterious, so I assume it isn't a mystery. As a satire it is much better, being relatively light-hearted and a fun to read. I think Adams' prose is the star in the book. He's a funny guy and effortlessly tells stories that make you smile. I would have enjoyed a novel that more centrally focused on Dirk, but in another fashion I think that maybe that would have been less enjoyable to read. In conclusion, I think it's a classic Adams installment, but I definitely don't like it as much as I liked Hitchhiker's Guide. All the silly science fiction bits in the Guide tickle me, but Dirk Gently isn't quit as fantastical in some ways. I think it's because Arthur Dent is thrust into this whole new incredible world and we as readers feel equally as thrust into this silly bit of science fiction. Dirk has this arrogant air about him because he wants to seem like he already knows what's going on before it ever happens, so we feel less connected to the story because we don't know what's going on. I guess that's why he threw Richard MacDuff into the story, so we could at least have someone a bit more relative, but Richard doesn't seem to have the charm that Arthur Dent has. I am excited to read the next installment. I hope it has deeper characters and more silly bits.

Madeline

I still don't really understand how the ending of this book worked, and trying to describe the plot would be like trying to build a submarine out of cheese. Instead, I'll just share some quotes from this book that I especially loved, because Douglas Adams is the only author in the history of the world who is capable of creating them."'A horse?' he said again. 'Yes, it is,' said the Professor. 'Wait - ' he motioned to Richard, who was about to go out again and investigate - 'Let it be. It won't be long.'Richard stared in disbelief. 'You say there's a horse in your bathroom, and all you can do is stand there naming Beatles songs?'""Richard stood transfixed for moment or two, wiped his forehead again, and gently replaced the phone as if it were an injured hamster. His brain began to buzz gently and suck its thumb. Lots of little synapses deep inside his cerebral cortex all joined hands and started dancing around and singing nursery rhymes." "On the wall was a Duran Duran poster on which someone had scrawled in fat red felt tip, 'Take this down please.'Beneath that another hand had scrawled, 'No.'Beneath that again the first hand had written, 'I insist that you take it down.'Beneath that the second hand had written, 'Won't!'Beneath that - 'You're fired!'Beneath that - 'Good!'And there the matter appeared to have rested.""'Welcome, by the way, to my offices.'He waved a vague hand around the tatty surroundings. 'The light works,' he said, indicating the window, 'the gravity works,' he said, dropping a pencil on the floor. 'Anything else we have to take our chances with.'""'Don't you listen to anything you say? The whole thing was obvious!' he exclaimed, thumping the table. 'So obvious that the only thing which prevented me from seeing the solution was the trifling fact that it was completely impossible. Sherlock Holmes observed that once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.'"

Jon

Adams' first fiction foray into a world other than the one(s) created for the Hitchhiker's Trilogy is a treat: a detective story filled with the same bizarre happenings and twists, described and narrated in Adams' inimitable comedic style. Unlike the Hitchhiker's books, however, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was written to be a stand-alone story, with a definite beginning, middle, and end. In many ways, this was Adams' first attempt at writing a proper novel--and he succeeds wildly. I was immediately captivated by the character of Dirk Gently, and drawn headfirst into his swirling, wildly-skewed version of reality, where everything is connected to everything else--so much so that something innocent randomly said on page five can (and does) become critically important on page 205. Don't bother trying to figure out the plot before the book ends, because you won't be able to do it. This is a detective novel, yes, but a Douglas Adams detective novel, where spaceships, time travel, Bach, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, tea, pizza, and ex-boyfriends are so intricately linked that your head will be swimming by the time you finish the last sentence. But the dizziness is well-worth the effort.

John Wiswell

Imagine a mystery where you weren't certain what the characters were supposed to figure out, who was involved, how anything could have happened, and where the only character who was even out to figure it out was someone nobody else believed? That is a tough sell for any writer other than Douglas Adams, who pioneered the post-modern comedy that relies more on cleverness in individual scenes that what strings them together. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is even less cohesive that the Hitchhikers series, jumping from a scene with a robot designed to believe as many things as possible and his frustrated horse, to a ghost trying to hitchhike his way home, to a boring a dinner at a college, to the holistic detective agency of a man who uses the highly fallible intricacies of the universe to find missing cats. That detective, his secretary, that ghost, and some unsuspecting bystanders will have to figure out what the mystery is and solve it before... well, I can't tell you or that would spoil. But you get it now, don't you? It's a holistic mystery.Adams gleefully plays upon new age philosophy, new age skepticism, quantum physics, and the mathematical revelations that led many severe non-hippies to realize everything really may be connected in a very physical way that we've all known about all along but never realized. It's all so preposterous that no other writer, even Terry Pratchett, could really swing it. While making more pointed jabs at certain sensitive spots than his other novels, it retains the classic Adams absurd good-naturedness that the world could use a lot more of. Sadly, the world doesn't even have that many of his books.I got a holistic bonus with my reading experience. As I’ve got to spend the week off my feet for my ankle to heal I scooped up a bunch of books out of a box of those I’ve meant to read. A Samuel Coleridge anthology was on top of the pile; I like to keep at least one classic in any batch of books I read. But I decided to start by cheering myself up with the unique stylings of Adams in this, the last of his books I’ve yet to read. His book makes numerous references to Coleridge, and even has a character pick up his own Coleridge anthology to read some of it. Reading about Adams’s character reading Coleridge when it was the next book I meant to read and was two feet away, I felt I got the entire Gently experience.

Karan

One reading is just not enough to appreciate this unassuming masterpiece. The book starts off with visions of absolute nothingness and absolute.. pinkness. From there it meanders to Cambridge, where a dinner is being hosted in memory of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at his old college, St. Cedd's. One thing leads to another, and skipping over an inexplicable magic trick, and an even more inexplicable murder of a tech billionaire, we reach the point where the stage is set for the entry of Dirk Gently (nee Svlad Cjelli), previously also of St. Cedd's College, Cambridge. We find him knee deep in handling a phone call with a disgruntled cat owner, whose cat he has been trying to locate for the past 8 years at great expense (to the client), and without result. I must quote this passage, where he is explaining to the cat owner why his agency is called "The Holistic Detective Agency": "I'm very glad you asked me that, Mrs Rawlinson. The term `holistic' refers to my conviction that what we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. I do not concern myself with such petty things as fingerprint powder, telltale pieces of pocket fluff and inane footprints. I see the solution to each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often much more subtle and complex than we with our rough and ready understanding of the physical world might naturally suppose, Mrs Rawlinson."Let me give you an example. If you go to an acupuncturist with toothache he sticks a needle instead into your thigh. Do you know why he does that, Mrs Rawlinson?No, neither do I, Mrs Rawlinson, but we intend to find out. A pleasure talking to you, Mrs Rawlinson. Goodbye." There you have it. The philosophy of Mr Gently, the detective in a nutshell. The rest of the book is all about how he manages to use these methods to solve an entire array of mysteries - and also save all life on earth in the process.Speaking of his methods, here's another gem:“Sherlock Holmes observed that once you have eliminated the impossible then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.” Even Mr. Holmes would have doffed his deerstalker at that!To summarise, as mentioned in the beginning, this is definitely not a book that can be fully appreciated in one reading. It needs to be savoured a second time, to get the real flavour out of it. After many many years, I finished a book and instinctively turned back to page 1 and started reading it again. It turns out I was not the only one. Richard Dawkins also did the same, and what's more, wrote a fan-letter to Douglas Adams after reading it the second time. This connected the two and sowed the seeds of a life-long friendship. (Read this "lament" - written on the day following Adams's death in 2001 - to understand their relationship better - http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/ma...)I will let the second reading sink in, and maybe read it once more, after a few months. Closing with the most famous quote from the book: “Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” Gosh, Douglas Adams, you went much too soon..

Nell Grey

** spoiler alert ** Definitely an original, clever and admirable novel with twists, turns and illusions - rather like sleight of hand performed by a time-travelling magician.I loved the allusions and parallels that I noticed, especially the ones about Kubla Khan, Coleridge's mysterious poem, said to be written after an opium-induced dream, the completion of which was interrupted by the arrival of a person from Porlock. Strangely, just after I'd finished the book I saw part of a programme called Unfinished Masterpieces in which Andrew Motion was speaking of Khubla Khan, and put forward the idea that perhaps there was no such person (from Porlock), that the poem was simply unresolved and better left in this mysterious state with the accompanying story than finished and losing that delicious sense of strangeness. I think he might have something there.I did find trying to note and remember all the seemingly important 'clues' in the first third of the story a slight strain, but settled in as soon as Dirk arrived on the scene and really enjoyed the middle. I felt that it ended rather suddenly, almost as if Douglas Adams had exhausted the possibilities of cleverness and wanted to move on to something new.

♥Xeni♥

What did I think? Hmm... I thought that this book was amazing. Mainly because I totally sync with the author's writing style, but also due to the plot, the characters and the subject matters he deals with in this book! I saved so many quotes to my iPhone while reading this... my poor Notes app is overfilling! But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First off, Adams is just a genius writer. I do believe that everyone can agree with that sentiment. His Hitch Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy series is one of the most popular out there, after all! (And one that I've read through a couple of times as well!) I actually wanted to read the second book in this series, The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, for some reason which I can't remember now, but it included GoodReads, something someone said about it, and the crazy title. But before I can read any book in the middle of a series, I really need to read the first books in that series! Thus commenced the lovely road that was Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. And it really was a lovely book to read. Amusing, quirky, filled with paradoxes and conundrums and so forth (say, have you ever gotten a sofa stuck in the staircase that leads to your flat in such a way that it is technically impossible to even have found its way there? If so, you might want to consider the possibility of (view spoiler)[the involuntary of a time machine! (hide spoiler)]). What I loved most about this book was the way that Adams always includes real scientific newsworthy discoveries into his plots. Who else would base a detective agency based on quantum theory? Who else would set a whole book around such crazy things as ghosts and time travel and saving the universe and still have it coming out slightly believable? Why, Douglass Adams of course!Anyway, I've been having trouble gathering my thoughts for decent reviews lately, so I think I should leave this one where it is without spoiling any more of the story. I hope to be enjoying the second book in the series just as much as this one!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Reinhold

Auf den ersten Seiten sitzt man bei diesem Buch und fragt sich, worauf will dieser Kerl eigentlich hinaus. Man versteht nur Bahnhof und erst langsam lüften sich die Schleier. Wie verbindet man einen elektrischen Mönch, ein Pferd im Badezimmer, einen ermordeten Millionär der als Geist weiterlebt aber dessen Leiche verschwunden ist, ein Sofa das im Stiegenhaus steckt, einen versponnen Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Chronologie (der selbst nicht weiß womit sich sein Lehrstuhl eigentlich beschäftigt) und einen aus Transsylvanien stammenden Privatdetektiv der scheinbar vollkommen abseits der Realität steht? Schwierig, sehr schwierig, das ist klar. Anders aber als in vielen Krimis in denen das Rätselraten Teil des Leseerlebnisses ist, kommt man hier kaum zu vernünftigen Schlüssen, das liegt natürlich daran, dass nicht viel alltägliche Erfahrung hinter der Handlung steckt, es ist einfach echt schräg. Klar kommt man dennoch zu Ergebnissen und es zeichnet sich auch der Schatten eines Zusammenhangs von Anfang an ab, bloß es ist irgendwie nicht wirklich passend - und auf das Ergebnis kommen wohl nur die Allerwenigsten auch nur ansatzweise.Sprachlich ist Douglas Adams auch in diesem Werk natürlich brilliant. Sein Wortwitz und seine Art zu schreiben sind etwas ganz Besonderes. Stilistisch aber auch seitens des Plots hat Adams es in diesem Buch allerdings übertrieben. Es passt alles nicht wirklich zusammen, und auch wenn es am Ende passend gemacht wird, kommt selten wirkliche Lesebegeisterung auf. Positiv fällt auf, dass die Charaktere nicht so flach sind, wie man sie bei einem Buch das vor allem Spaß (im engeren Sinn) machen will, erwarten würde.Dennoch bleibt das Buch aufgrund seiner verworrenen Handlung nur sehr schwer zu lesen, denn die Konzentration ist nur sehr schwer zu halten. Es plätschert meistens einfach dahin und die wirklich großen Reißer sind leider nicht drinnen. Bestimmt nicht der beste Adams den es gibt.

Kurt

This book has all of the random lunacy of the best of the Hitchhiker Trilogy, and I love it. The story, such as it is, is that a man is murdered, and in the aftermath, his friend meets up with a holistic detective who may be completely brilliant and may be psychic and may be a liar and is probably a little of each. They wander around for a bit, mostly to give Adams the chance to skewer the education system, the practical details of life as a ghost, the standard elements of detective noir, and mankind's willingness to make machines do everything we don't like to do (the best example: The Electric Monk, who will believe anything, even contradictory notions, so that you don't have to). There are musings about the origin of mankind, especially toward the end, and I do think that the book suffers a bit when Adams starts tying together the many threads of his narrative, being painfully obvious in a few places and a bit too subtle in others, but this is still a strong and very funny book that made me chuckle out loud more than once, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed the first three Hitchhiker books.

Beth

I first read this book quite a while ago, probably not long after it came out. A time we could look forward to a Douglas Adams book instead of having to look back to the past. He is missed.I don't think I got anything more out of Dirk Gently than I did twenty years ago, but that's just fine.It's funny without being silly, wry without being mean. I love Adams's humor, his turns of phrase, and how everything comes together in the end. Or the beginning. Or both.

Nikki

One of the most annoying things about reading the Kindle edition of this book was the fact that popular highlights show up and you can't turn them off, at least not easily. It drove me mad. It was inevitably the parts that you'd pick out as funny for yourself, not anything surprisingly good...Anyway, I grew up with Douglas Adams' work in the background, on the radio while we ate or while me and my sister played after dinner and my dad tried to relax. He's a big Douglas Adams fan, though he sticks mostly to the radio stuff, thinking that has more life.I do enjoy Douglas Adams' writing, but I didn't find Dirk Gently as compulsive to read as Hitchhiker's Guide. There were a lot of good bits -- things I might pull out as memorable quotes -- but it didn't come out that memorably as a whole. The quotes are memorable without the story surrounding them. They're sort of bon mots that felt sort of pasted in, for the most part.It's fun, don't get me wrong, and it was excellent train reading: entertaining without needing my full focus.

Ugh

I hadn't read any Douglas Adams before. The first few chapters, I thought "This writing isn't all that great, and I'm not sure what's going on", and that was about that. Then, after a few chapters, I started to be charmed a little, and the plot started to suck me in. For the first half of the book, that's pretty much where I remained: fairly interested and occasionally amused. Then, around halfway through, things started coming together, and I realised that although Adams may not have been among the greatest ever prose writers, he could damn sure conceive and construct a story. And the comedy just kept getting better too. And then, with around 30-odd pages to go, almost out of nowhere, he blew me away for the first time, really amazing me with the (actually fairly small and insignificant) turn the plot took. And over the final few pages, he consistently dazzled me with the sheer scale, audacity and intricacy of what he'd pulled off, as well as filling me with a fairly hefty sense of wonder. I actually had to stop reading for a minute or so every few pages to give myself chance to recover. When I'd finished, it felt as if a small but important fuse had blown somewhere in my brain. I kept going back and rereading small sections to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and to appreciate things for a second time. Overall, the set-up is OK, but the payoff is fantastic!

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