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

ISBN: 0671746723
ISBN 13: 9780671746728
By: Douglas Adams

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction Humor Humour Mystery Sci Fi Science Fiction To Read

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

colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ±

2.5So, I picked this up because it was a BotM in one of my groups and I was in the mood for something light and funny. I wanted real laugh-out-loud kind of humor, but, unfortunately, I thought there were only a few chuckles or wry grins, but I don't think one single vocal laugh in the whole book. Well, not for me, anyway. And most of the humor was towards the beginning and started petering out as it progressed, so... yeah... As for the story itself - it's an odd little thing in which we don't actually meet the title character until a bit more than halfway through (or at least that's what it seemed), and while he was kind of interesting I just didn't care all that much about the overall story.The one character that I wanted to see more of was the Electric Monk and his horse (ok, I guess that's two characters), but after they served their purpose, so to speak, we don't see all that much of them, and that was disappointing.Overall not a terrible story, but I'd hoped for so much more than random zaniness which felt forced in places and often disconnected. Meh.


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.'"


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.


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.


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..


I want an electric monk.As Douglas Admas tells us in this book, every civilization creates mechanical devices designed to save us from our labor. We have diswashers to wash our tedious dishes for us, VCRs to watch those tedious television programs so we don't have to, and finally the Electric Monk to believe on those things we can't be bothere to believe in.Is that cool, or what?As strange as it sounds, the Electric Monk is actually integral to the plot. But this plot is complex enough to deserve it. The main character, more or less, is Richard MacDuff, an up-and-coming young computer programmer who has several unique problems. The first problem is that of his couch - it's stuck in the stairwell and, by all logic as affirmed by the best computer modeling systems, should never have gotten where it was in the first place.The second problem is that he's wanted for the murder of his bosss. He didn't do it, of course, but that kind of thing doesn't really impress the police. And, of course, there's the problem with the woman he loves, Susan, who just so happens to be the sister of the boss whom Richard is accused of murdering.Add into all that the titular Dirk Gently, if that is his real name. Dirk is a man who, since college, has unswayingly, constantly denied having any kind of psychic powers whatsoever - which caused him some problems during his university days when he managed to correctly predict, down the the comma, the contents of a major exam.Now older and weirder, Dirk runs his Holistic Detective Agency. His work rests on one simple principle: the Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Things. Based on a common misunderstanding of quantum theory, Dirk believes that all things are fundamentally connected to all other things, no matter how tenuous those connections might appear to the unaided eye. So during the course of, say, looking for a lost cat, it is entirely possible that he may have to go down to the beach in Bermuda. Because, fundamentally, all things are connected. And billable.Then there's the matter of a time machine hidden in Cambridge and the temptation that can arise from having one. With what amounts to a TARDIS, one could go to any point in time and space. You could visit ancient lands, pet extinct animals or, if necessary, fix something that had gone terribly, terribly wrong. It's tricky, but it can be done. And if you're the ghost of an alien whose simple mistake – putting his trust in an Electric Monk, for example – consigned it to billions of years of insubstantial solitude, a time machine might be very tempting indeed.There's really no good way to summarize this book. As Douglas Adams is fond of doing, there seem to be several plotlines and events which, at first, seem to ha ve no relation to each other. But as you read, you find out that the Electric Monk isn't as funny as we thought he was, that putting a salt shaker into a piece of pottery can cause more problems than you think, and that you should always be afraid of people with nothing to lose.As Dirk claims, all things in this book are fundamentally interconnected, even if it's not obvious at the moment.Yes, even the couch.

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.


One of the things that confounds me about this book is that the title character isn't even mentioned until more than a quarter of the way through the book, and doesn't actually show up until the halfway point or so. Which is a shame, really, since Dirk himself is so very, very interesting. He reminds me a little of Ignatius J. Reilly in his delusional view of his perpetual correctness and willingness to lie to everyone (including himself) to maintain that view. The biggest difference being that Adams, unlike Toole, could actually write humor. Oh, and that Dirk actually IS right, even if it's only by accident.Like a lot of Adams' books (most notably the other Dirk Gently book, Long Dark Teatime of the Soul), the whole thing seems to fall apart a little around the endgame, but the ride is so fun up until then that I still think of it fondly, despite the somewhat less-than-satisfying ending. Not something I can say about Teatime, sadly. Anyway, despite being a little flawed, definitely worth the read.

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.


I recently re-read Dirk Gently, since the first time I read it was in the seventh or eighth grade, and so I really didn't remember much of it. I must say it is absolutely fantastic. It is one of the few books which as I read it I was imagining what you could do for a film version. I think it would be a fantastic work to bring to the big screen, particularly after the modest success of Hitchhiker's...That said, I love Douglas Adams. The man was a genius at creating characters, and the Gently series might be more endeared to me than the Hitchhiker's.

Ian Wood

Douglas Adams' underated masterpiece leads Dirk Gently from a search for a missing cat to unlocking the secrets of time travel and saving the human race from total extinction. I thought no-one could write a better comic novel than 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' until I first read this. I've subsequently re-read this novel countless times and it never fails to entertain, I'm still finding references to literature and popular culture that I've previously missed. That a novel can be re-read despite the reader knowing what is about to happen is a testement to any novel but this one can be re-read with a suspition that something different will happen this time!


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.

Steve Mitchell

The five books that make up the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (I know, I know) are my favourite novels of all time. However, Dirk Gently is my favourite character that the late Douglas Adams created: just piping Ford Prefect and Marvin, the paranoid android, to that particular title.In his first outing, the holistic detective that bases his investigations on the fundamental interconnectedness of everything becomes embroiled in a case where he immediately realises that two aspects are actually impossible. Fortunately the word impossible is not found in our hero’s dictionary; in fact, everything from herring to marmalade appears to be absent.It is a case that pans out to include ghosts, electric monks, horses inexplicably in second storey bathrooms, murder, pizza, clairvoyance, a stuck sofa, a visitor from Porlock and a university professor adept at conjuring tricks in a plot that a mere mortal such as I would only ruin if I attempted to summarise. This is one of those books that you just have to read, although background knowledge of the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge would be beneficial in this case.


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"]>

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.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *