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


I recently finished reading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams for one of the challenges I'm in. It's been quite a while since I've read a Douglas Adams book (last one was Salmon of Doubt a few years back) but I knew I'm in for a treat. And indeed, it has the same excellent humor as we are already used to from the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.[return][return]The main plot idea seems to be Gordon Way's shooting during a call to his sister Susan's answering machine and Richard MacDuff's (an employee of Gordon's working on a program to convert data into music, currently dating Susan) seemingly implication in the murder; even if Gordon Way is dead his ghost is still roaming around. Dirk Gently, Richard's former college friend, believes in the fundamental interconnectedness of everything and tries to help Richard to prove he's innocent.[return][return]However, this is just a small part of the plot, in fact a very small one: time travel, aliens and other ideas are mixed in to create another great and funny Douglas Adams book.[return][return]Towards the end I was totally lost since I had no idea what the Coleridge connection is. After some searches on the internets, I discovered that the novel cannot be fully understood without familiarity with Samuel Taylor Coleridge life and works, particularly The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan poems. I found some notes though on a website so things got clearer.[return][return]During these searches on the net I also found out that the sofa irreversibly stuck on the stairs is based on an incident that happened during Adams’ college life.[return][return]Overall, a great read, 4 out of 5 stars.[return][return]I can't wait to read the next Dirk Gently book, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.


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.


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.


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!


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.


I thought I had read this before, but clearly I hadn't. If I had, I would have read it ten times by now, because it is that good. The plot is as clear as a pointillist painting, so the reader's understanding of the ending really depends on where said reader is standing in relation, and how much processing power that reader is willing to give it. Adams doesn't focus so much on the humor and inventive side notes as he did with my beloved Hitchhiker's Guide, though it is both funny and creative. The first third to half of the book might feel like vastly unrelated bits of plot being strung together, so I imagine it would be easy to assume, say, that the (redacted) is just a strange aside that won't come much into play... and you would be shocked and perhaps confused later, because everything comes into play.To sum up, I loved this perhaps more than the Hitchhiker's Guide, and look forward to reading it again at some point so I can spot the clues even earlier.(Oddly enough, I recently read Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead and think that Claire DeWitt and Dirk Gently are at least literary cousins, being odd, holistic, and excellent detectives, though in very different worlds.)


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"]>


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.

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.


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..

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.


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.


Nobody writes quite like Douglas Adams. His style is inimitable, filled with irreverence, comedy, and a willingness to write things as they ought to be, and not as they are. Just kidding on that last one. I have no idea what that would even mean.There's a freshness and a verve to Douglas Adams that makes everything that he writes quite enjoyable. I am, it must be said, very skeptical of those storytellers who place more importance on writing technique & style before than on character, plot, and conflict, but Douglas Adams has managed to win me over in spite of this. You can tell that he enjoys his writing: a playfulness oozes through the words, bringing with it many a disbelieving, charmed chuckle. Furthermore he, unlike many of the great thriller authors, is far from formulaic. The plot whizzes round n round like a pinball stuck in a machine, but it is quite in keeping with the rest of the silliness throughout.This is not a classic in the traditional sense, but I found compelling in that it is a story by someone who enjoys what he is doing and that makes it a better read than most.

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!

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