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.

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.

Luisa

Kind of crazy... but a tub read nonetheless. Douglas Adams has a way of writing nonsensical things in a way that males them amusing, but this in now way compares go the wonderfully entertaining Hitchhikers series. Richard is not really a character that I loved. Dirk thinks too highly of himself and the final solution seemed too simple and easy in my opinion. however, Reg is an adorable old man, even if a little loony.I guess the ending really felt like a bit of a let down after I had found all of the rest quite funny.I'll read the second one now because I'm one of these people who like to complete the series.

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.

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.

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!

Lilyan

Where does one start with this book? I'm not really sure what I just read myself. I doubt Adams really knew what he was writing. Abstract doesn't even begin to describe it. I'm not very clear on the ending, it's just so random, but infinitely funny and entertaining. I'm not usually a fan of such work, reminiscent of Pratchett, Christopher Moore and to some extent, Gaiman, but this book was so enjoyable. True, there really wasn't a plot or any point to it, but it was just funny, wild, intelligent and delightfully absurd. Great job with the characters, especially Reg and Dirk. Witty dialogue, quirky characterizations, ridiculous events. A breath of fresh air really.Recommended for fans of Pratchett, lovers of silliness, quantum theorists and time travellers.

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"]>

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.

Jeremy

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.

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.

Michael

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.

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.

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!

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.

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