The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently, #2)

ISBN: 0671881450
ISBN 13: 9780671881450
By: Douglas Adams

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About this book

When a passenger check-in desk at London's Heathrow Airport disappears in a ball of orange flame, the explosion is deemed an act of God. But which god, wonders holistic detective Dirk Gently? What god would be hanging around Heathrow trying to catch the 3:37 to Oslo?And what has this to do with Dirk's latest—and late—client, found only this morning with his head revolving atop the hit record "Hot Potato"?Amid the hostile attentions of a stray eagle and the trauma of a very dirty refrigerator, super-sleuth Dirk Gently will once again solve the mysteries of the universe...

Reader's Thoughts


Very much in the same mould as the previous book, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The Adams approach to humour is still ever-apparent. However, this book is a bit more dependent on a coherent plot, and it has plenty more signs along the way about its direction of travel. Perhaps by now, the audience - myself at least - is becoming used to the Adams style, which makes it feel less 5-star?.It bowls along very well and slips down easily and surprisingly quickly. The end seems to happen rather too quickly and somewhat before the plot has been properly explained and resolved. I get the impression that he hadn't really decided on the denouement, then thought 'what the heck, I'll go for "everything ends up happily ever after"'. I think I would have preferred the Scooby Doo ending.


Lots of hilarious moments, though the pacing's not quite up to the level set in the first Dirk Gently book. The ending especially feels rushed - he spends a long time building up this fantastic web of complexity, and then rips it down with a climax and ending that together are barely longer than "But it all worked out okay in the end."But, as a math student working through too many proofs right now, I really love Dirk's way of thinking! ...especially his reversal of Sherlock-Holmes-style logic:"What was the Sherlock Holmes principle? 'Once you have discounted the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' ""I reject that entirely," said Dirk sharply. "The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something that works in all respects other than one, which is just that it is hopelessly improbable? Your instinct is to say, 'Yes, but he or she simply wouldn't do that.' ""Well, it happened to me today, in fact," replied Kate."Ah, yes," said Dirk, slapping the table and making the glasses jump, "your girl in the wheelchair--a perfect example. The idea that she is somehow receiving yesterday's stock market prices apparently out of thin air is merely impossible, and therefore must be the case, because the idea that she is maintaining an immensely complex and laborious hoax of no benefit to herself is hopelessly improbable. The first idea merely supposes that there is something we don't know about, and God knows there are enough of those. The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human which we do know about. We should therefore be very suspicious of it and all its specious rationality."Words to live by. Stay open-minded, because there's a lot we don't know about.

Allan Dyen-shapiro

I was the generation that devoured the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books back in high school, as soon as they came out, and then went around quoting dialog from them in casual conversation: Adams' work joined the pantheon that included Monty Python movies, Cheech and Chong albums, and the movie The Princess Bride. Did I mention that we didn't date a lot in high school?Anyway, although I'd enjoyed them all (and also enjoyed Adams' work on the original Doctor Who series--he was their best writer), I'd never read the Dirk Gently books. In a manner totally appropriate to Adams' work, I randomly found the second in the series in a second-hand book store and read it, not having read the first. I'd wondered whether Adams would maintain the same style without the luxury of science-fiction tropes to poke fun at--clinically depressed robots, improbability drives on spaceships, and the like. What--a conventional earth-bound narrative that starts with a woman in an airport flying from London to Norway to see her boyfriend? Really? But when the Norse gods joined in, the playfulness ramped up to Hitchhiker's levels. This was a fun read, perhaps not the classic that Hitchhikers was, but definitely worth it--it only took me two days to charge through it.


I loved the Hitchhiker's Guide when I was 12, but I just couldn't get into Dirk Gently. Probably because the first Dirk Gently book begins so very oddly and slowly. Too bad I didn't start here, because this one gets going more quickly. It's funny, odd, but best of all has a sort of odd philosophy running throughout all the events, and especially Dirk's choices. He's the patron saint for those of us who sometimes do things that make no sense to others, but it all works out in the end. Not necessarily because we know what we're doing, but because the universe is like that. HGTTG is full of elaborate set pieces that let Adams' humor shine. But when it comes to a satisfying story and lovable characters, this will always be my favorite. Poor Adams died only a couple days before he was supposed to speak at my college, but the real tragedy in my mind has always been that he never finished the third Gently book.

Allen Brown

A book of complete genius. Whilst not laugh-out-loud funny as the Hitchhikers Guide series, this is neither a radio play masquerading as a book nor a five-book trilogy of a dead-horse flogger: it is actually written as a book. The recent TV adaptations did this book no favours. For the full-on experience of Adams' insanity, read the book.


Unfortunately, Adams' sequel to Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency isn't as tightly-written as its predecessor. On the sentence level, Adams is still writing furiously funny jokes, but The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul ends up feeling like first-class humor wrapped loosely around second-class plot and characters. Adams has been accused of writing punchlines rather than plots, and it shows in this book perhaps more so than anywhere else. I also thought the book's flow suffered greatly in places, with important scenes not having enough space devoted to their development (especially in the last few pages, such as the Valhalla scene). In addition, Dirk Gently's "fundamental interconnectedness" approach to investigation--where everything is important because it's linked to everything else--is still present here, but the linked items don't line up as neatly as they did in the first book. I also found the conclusion lacking: at the end of Dirk Gently's..., I said "Fantastic!" aloud to the room around me; at the end of The Long, Dark... I turned the page and, when there was nothing else to read, said aloud, "That's it?" So: five stars for humor, but minus two for poor plot and flow.


Though I love D.A. this was a disappointing work. Very funny at times but his absurd style together with his desire to only hint at major plot points, left me wondering what the hell was actually going on in the end. Did an old fridge really just spawn a new God that killed the bad guys? And what the hell was that eagle doing? Rushed ending, very few pieces tied. However, I laughed well - especially the line that goes something like, "I've had such a bad day that it would make Saint Francis of Assisi want to kick a baby."


Sometimes, even if you’re Thor, it’s very hard to get to Oslo. At least, if you’re Thor in a universe where humans created gods, and the gods need ongoing worship to exist. See generally This book might have been my introduction to the idea that humans created gods in our own image. And the pathos of being a being created to be worshipped once the worship stops. It also may have been the first book I read where a lawyer and an advertising executive got together to do something really nasty to some naïve . . . being. . . using a cleverly written contract. That might have had some impact on how I approach questions of substantive unconscionability in contract cases. Hm. Anyhoo, a lot of the plot happens off the page in this book and must be inferred from what happens. Some of it – like why an eagle keeps attacking Dirk, who is not much of a Sisyphean figure and why Thor travels around with his own Coke vending machine – are explained at the end, more or less, but others – like why Odin’s man servant has a giant green monster with a scythe and why Dirk’s refrigerator ended up there – are left as exercises for the reader. As well as what exactly Dirk did to keep a particular contract clause from being enforced . . . though Thor finding his inner Thor-ness rendered some of that moot. Dirk Gently of this book is much less like The Doctor of Doctor Who than the Dirk Gently of the Holistic Detective Agency. He’s drifting towards Susan Sto Helit of Discworld (Death’s adopted granddaughter and more than a little bit eldritch herself, despite her stark skepticism of the supernatural) and Shadow of American Gods (though Shadow lacks Dirk’s lively imagination). A more-or-less human character who can see the divine drama, be profoundly moved by it, and figure out the trick of it. I would have loved to have seen where DNA took it. It is also, quietly, freaking hilarious.


This book is good but does not live up to the standards of either the first Hitchhiker's book nor of the first Dirk Gently, novel that I enjoyed almost as much as the first Hitchhiker book.The first Dirk Gently novel was quirky and engaged with spiritual and psychic phenomenon in much the way that Adams engaged in the concepts of science in the Hitchhiker books. The first Dirk Gently novel delivered on quirky characters and situations. The second book is pretty pedestrian. There is an unusual murder, but the majority of the book is about a conflict between Norse gods. The name sake of the novel (Dirk Gently) puts in spotty appearances and the author is not able to pull off demonstrating an interconnectedness between the stories that would make it a stark component of the story.In the end if isn't a bad book. If you are desperate for more Adams than it is better than nothing. But it doesn't sing the way his other works do.--------Have just reread the book for the second time within 2 or 3 weeks. I enjoyed it more the second time. The book has a weird sort of wisdom to it.


I'm not sure whether this is the effect of not being jammed into half a train seat by someone twice the size of me, but The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul seemed less funny but more absorbing than the first book. It helped that it included Norse gods, I think. I had no idea that Douglas Adams had tangled with them.On the other hand, I don't really think that as much seemed to happen, somehow. Less plates seemed to be spinning. I think that was a good thing for the narrative, but it seemed to make the second book different in tone from the first... (And then I wonder if that was just because at no point did I have to stuff my Kindle back into a bag and run to get off a train because I was about to miss getting off at the correct station. I suspect I'm more influenced by the circumstances in which I read books than I realise.)So... on some levels, I enjoyed this more than the first book, and on some levels, less. Quite an odd feeling.I do like the nine tenths of the subconscious being given over to penguins.

Kate K. F.

I have mixed feelings about this book but then Adams is an author who only kind of works for me. In Long Dark Tea-Time, the Norse gods are creating trouble in England and Dirk ends up mixed up with them. In theory, Dirk is solving a mystery about men who died due to a demon but the plot isn't really the point. The idea of the book seems to be discussions into fate, belief and other topics with a strange sort of humor thrown in. I found some of the characters fascinating such as Kate who is pulled into the mess and the portrayals of the Norse gods and Valhalla, but the story itself left me disappointed. I haven't read a lot of Adams, Terry Pratchett is my go to fantasy humor author, because to me he manages better the balance of character, plot and humor.I'd recommend this book to someone who enjoys Adams and is curious to read another take on the Norse gods, but the end left me disappointed.


The first Dirk Gently was deeply flawed, but I liked it. This one showed a lot of promise, at least for me, given my fondness for mythology. But really...I don't have a lot to say about it. It reminds me somewhat of Mostly Harmless: A wandering, mean-spirited, poorly-paced, and very, very confused novel without the high quality of humor present in most of Adams' oeuvre. The "ending" (HA!) is at best, awkward, and at worst, complete crap. I felt no sense of resolution, and the first time I read the book, had to reread the last few chapters a few times just to make sure I knew what was going on. There are very, very few books I have this problem with, so I have difficulty believing that the problem is on my end. It just feels like old Doug phoned this one in.


The back jacked of this book promised me it was "Funnier than Psycho" and "Shorter than War and Peace." Now, I thought that these were jokes. I assumed that that tag was cute and that it would be quite funny. In fact, funnier than Psycho is about as good as the humor was. It was there, but rarely very funny and generally simply kinda cute. It was in fact shorter than War and Peace. I didn't expect much for plot. It is a Douglas Adams book after all, but I had hoped for decent characters. Unfortunately there is so much going on that none of the characters has a real chance to develop. The shifting character perspective didn't help either. The book was quite short, and chapters told from multiple character points of view don't really have enough room to let the characters grow, just paint the bare bones plot. The ending was just bad. Not that what happened was bad, but it seemed that Adams' editors told him he needed to cut 50 pages, and he subsequently decided to cut 50 of the last 55. The action was jammed together, not fleshed out, and a little hard to follow. For as mediocre as the rest of the book was, the ending was a let down. I don't think I'd recommend the book to anyone except the most devoted Adams fan. Unless your reading goal includes being able to say "Yeah, I've read ALL of his books," I don't see any reason why you should pick this up.

Andy Karlson

Neil Gaiman once said of Terry Pratchett, "He works as hard at writing books as Douglas Adams worked at not writing them." In other words, Adams was an inveterate procrastinator who coasted on his own brilliance, charm, and wit, and it's nigh-miraculous that he ever completed anything at all. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul embodies this tendency more than any other of his books. It's like what I imagine taking a long country drive in a vintage Jaguar XKE might be like: great, zippy fun at first, with a middle portion that gets somewhat rattly and loose, and then an abrupt and jarring finish as the wheels fall off and the whole thing skids to a not-totally-unsatisfying halt. And yet, just for the fun of the ride, the pointed insights, and the sheer, shabby brio of the protagonist, I can't bring myself to give it less than four stars. Even as Adams wraps up in a handful of pages a climax and denouement that deserved three or four chapters, I found myself forgiving the awkwardness and too-tidy wrapping-up-ness of it. After all, it was such a breezy ride up to that point--and thanks to Neal Gaiman, I knew what I was getting into in the first place--that it would be almost churlish to complain.


As much as I enjoyed ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’, I have to say that ‘The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul’ is the better book. The reason for that is simple – you get more Dirk for your pound! Whereas it was halfway through before this most intriguing of detectives put in an appearance in the first novel, here he arrives in Chapter Three – waging a war with his cleaner as to which of them is actually going to open the fridge door (something which hasn’t been done in over three months) and clean out whatever he or she finds within. It’s a highly amusing vignette, and one which Adams has the genius to turn into a major plot point.Having now re-read the whole canon, I think I’m qualified to examine Dirk Gently as a detective – and I find he actually has a great deal in common with Sherlock Holmes. (A man with whom he has fundamental differences on the subject of eliminating the impossible). Like Holmes he seems to be asexual, with a love of clutter and a great deal of esoteric information at his fingertips. Indeed he is possibly even more observant than Sherlock, as there are things that Dirk would spot which Sherlock would never give a moment’s credence to. Unfortunately though, there isn’t a John Watson equivalent on the scene to recount episode after episode of this great man’s adventures, but then Gently may be an even more infuriating person to hang around with than his Baker Street colleague.Indeed this tale opens with Gently’s secretary, having finally abandoned him, working at the check-in at Heathrow Terminal Two. When a passenger can’t board a plane the check-in desk shoots suddenly, and inexplicably, hundreds of feet into the air. From there we encounter angry eagles, mysterious Coke machines, one of the most truly bizarre murders in fiction (which is then, truly bizarrely, labelled a suicide by the police) and the entrance to Valhalla through London’s St Pancras station. Once again Adams’ plotting is not as strong as it could be, and the final quarter does drag somewhat, but it’s brilliantly written and the jokes do keep coming.It is a real shame that Adams died and we don’t have half a dozen more Gently tales (though given his productivity, that probably would have been unlikely anyway). But at least we have the two, and I promise it won’t be another twenty years before I re-read them again.

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