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

ISBN: 0671625829
ISBN 13: 9780671625825
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

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.

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.

♥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"]>

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.'"

Andrea

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.)

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.

Claudiu

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.

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.

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.

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.

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