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

Harry Kane

I have yet to see or hear a coherent explanation why American Gods breaks records, whereas this gem, which even Gaiman himself I think would agree is in quite a higher league, never did make a splash. Just because it's not set in America? That would be pathetic.

Simon Turney

It's not often that a standalone novel spawns a sequel that is actually better than the first, but that is what Adams achieved with this second Dirk Gently novel.'Teatime' is, to me, an improvement on the first book in two particular ways:1. The character interaction is stepped up to the point where every encounter and conversation makes me belly laugh until I hurt.2. The plot is tighter and less rambling than the first. While that was a strength of Dirk Gently 1, it would have been too much to do it again. This plot is a good, solid, fantasy/sci-fi/mystery one that builds beautifully.Certain passages stand out. I will always remember and love the opening scene with the airport, Dirk's navigation and the car accident, and Dirk with the eagle.Dirk becomes even funnier and more complex in this second outing and, given the wonderful addition of characters like Kate Schechter and Thor, it just couldn't be better.A brilliant novel and unsurpassed in the field of comedy literature for me.


Once again, rather than attempt to describe the latest of holistic detective Dirk Gently's adventures, I will instead present a selection of completely random quotes from the book. They really have nothing to do with each other, but I like them."It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only known exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.""Perhaps it would save time if he went back to get his car, but then again it was only a short distance, and he had a tremendous propensity for getting lost when driving. This was largely because of his 'Zen' method of navigation, which was simply to find any car that looked as if it knew where it was going and follow it. The results were more often surprising than successful, but he felt it was worth it for the sake of the few occasions when it was both.""Confuse your enemy, he thought. It was a little like phoning somebody up, and saying 'Yes? Hello?' in a testy voice when they answered, which was one of Dirk's favorite methods of whiling away long, hot summer afternoons."Oh, Douglas Adams. Shine on, you crazy diamond.


This is very hard for me, you know? I love Douglas Adams; I adore his phrasing, his word structure, and how he manages to make things seem funny,ridiculous, menacing or heartbreaking. I've loved the Hitchhiker books, and he continues to be one of the writers I care for quite immensely.This is why rating this book as 3/5 is so sad for me, this book started off great, with plenty of intrigue and mystery, and a bunch of characters that seemed interesting and off their rockers (in other words, regular Adams fare). So, I thought I was going to love it, and I did!But then I came to the last few chapters, and it seems like someone was on Adams's case, asking him to finish the damn book. The whole thing seems hurried, with characters jumping around and events taking place so fast that you couldn't even tell what had happened until you've read it again. His randomness, which is endearing when used carefully, is tossed about everywhere, as he ties up every single loose end in a matter of a few paragraphs.I won't lie; I felt cheated by the end of this book, and I don't like to be cheated.

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.


If you are starting to get weary of all the reviews of Douglas Adams, do not despair this is the last. (No I do not count the ones that were written after his death.) To make it even better, this is perhaps the best. Or maybe I was just so upset by the last two Hitchhiker books that this seemed like the best. Either way it is a great book.This is the second, and last, book in the Dirk Gentry series. The only reoccurring character is Dirk Gentry and his secretary - although his secretary - although his secretary is very quite for most of the book. Instead of time travel, like the first book, we get to enter into the world of the Gods. Or rather, our world is getting destroyed by ours. Dirk Gentry, in his incompetent way, is put into the position of saving the world of the Gods from themselves, or ourselves, hum, depends on how you look at it.Either way, a great way to end my Douglas Adams reading spree.


This is an interesting enough book, but it's really for dedicated fans of Douglas Adams only. The thin plot wanders along, but the wonderfully humorous descriptions and non sequiturs will keep fans of Adams reading. I love the fridge that had "begun seriously to lurk" in the kitchen. Adams wonderful descriptive prose aside, the book suffers from a lack of tension and a lack of interesting characters. Gently & Kate are, frankly, not particularly interesting people. This is not the masterpiece that is Hitchhiker, but if you've read all of Adams Hitchhiker books more than once, then you'll enjoy this novel. If you haven't read Adams work before, don't start here.


Maybe the only merit of this book is that it shows how The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy could have gone terribly wrong. Why, the 'Hitchhiker's Guide' is a buch of strange and witty ideas that have no direction and almost can't work together. Yet, through the excellent pace and the hilariously funny writing style, Douglas Adams pulls it off and made it into the great sci-fi comedy it became.Here, we again have weird ideas (even involving scandinavion gods) but, really, none of it works. The jokes are few and mostly weak attempts at humour. Because the investigation by Dirk Gently and the girl Kate is just a directionless sequence of silly events happening, there is no tension whatsoever.Since the characters are only slaves to the strange plot twists, they don't have an actual personality so to speak of. For instance, main character Dirk Gently is mostly incredibly stupid when Adams needs him for slapstick humour. But when the plot needs to be advanced at some point, Gently very temporarily becomes a genious that would outsmart even Spade and Marlowe.This is a book that, for the loving memory of Douglas Adams, had better be forgotten.


I hate lengthy descriptions. Once descriptive or expositive text goes past a few sentences, I tend to start skimming. It helps that Douglas Adams puts most of his humor into those parts, but still, I have to admit to doing a fair bit of skimming in the early parts of this one.Once we finally got to some action, I did get hooked in, but the plot wanders off from time to time. There's a good deal of set up with the mysterious boy in the murdered client's house; and then, poof, you never see or hear about him again.The ending reminded me of the accusation thrown at the Nick and Nora characters in the movie "Murder by Death": the last-minute introduction of withheld information so as to wrap up the end in a surprise that manages to be rather dissatisfying.So, the opening and ending are the weakest parts. In between is Adams's trademark humor and quirky characters, which was very definitely enjoyable and worth a read. If you're into that sort of thing.Enough reviews said positive things that I'm letting myself complain more than usual, just to point out the drawbacks. That said, I'll probably eventually reread it.


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.


Unlike his “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series (a collection of humorous vignettes without much of a plot, continuity, or character development), Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series (two novels and some sketches for a third one, included in the “Salmon of Doubt”) is in fact literature of the first degree. In the second novel, “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul,” Dirk Gently, a private “holistic” investigator (an eccentric slob, perpetually broke, capricious, silly, and wonderfully insightful), while minding his client’s (Kate, a somewhat confused gal from New York) interests, unravels a pseudo-conspiracy involving the Norse gods (all of them), in which the gods are the victims.Employing his own special methods (which differ from Sherlock Holmes’ methods in that Dirk has a soft spot for the impossible and does not like to dismiss it), Dirk manages to a) side with the gods b) save them c) punish the guilty d) help his client e) end up broke again. The last bit is fine by him (in the previous novel, he sent a bill to a client of his, whose missing cat he was supposed to find, with just one item on it, “Saving the Universe. No charge”).Laced with Adams’ trademark humor, this novel certainly puts its author in the same category with Mark Twain, Chekhov, and Maupassant. I’m not exaggerating.


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.

Joe Revelator

Anyone who hasn’t at least heard of Douglas Adams or his fictional stories should immediately take a time-out to contemplate life, and how dull it’s been up until now. Seriously, we’ll wait…Just have a seat on the edge of the bed, or on the edge of anything that won’t run off, and consider how ridiculous this has all really been–this whole, life thing. Because Douglas Adams has considered it. Extensively.Done…? Good.Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, wrote an unrelated set of novels about a Holistic Detective named Dirk Gently. The first book, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, was referred to by Adams as “…a kind of ghost-horror-detective-time-travel-romantic-comedy-epic, mainly concerned with mud, music, and quantum mechanics.”Whereas The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul could be considered more of a mildly depressed, slightly whimsical, and utterly impossible look at the dark brooding nature of bored Norse gods, and the drudgery of an immortal existence.I was loaned this book after my review of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, whose literary theme closely resembles that of The Long Dark Tea-Time. Namely how it revolves around the old-world gods who are trying, and failing, to live comfortably in a modern society that has all but forgotten them. In fact it was Gaiman who, in the same year as this book’s publication in 1988, released a companion book to Hitchhiker’s Guide called Don’t Panic. One doesn’t get a sense of intellectual theft between Gaiman and Adams though, since the feel of American Gods is more of an epic drama being battled out between mythical heroes. And The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul feels like…well, exactly what its title implies.“The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks.”The plot is so twistingly strange that trying to explain Tea-Time’s flow would be like sportscasting the flight of a bumblebee in real-time. It jogs back and forth, cuts in and out of reason, and takes breaks now and again to ponder about the strangeness it’s arrived at. It never takes so sharp a turn as to lose the reader, but it makes quantifying Tea-Time as convoluted as Douglas Adams’ quote (see above) about the first book in this series.To start, Dirk Gently is a man waging a silent, passive war against his housekeeper. The unspeakable horror that has evolved inside his filthy refrigerator has gotten so noxious, so vile, that his maid refuses to open the thing. Since she also proves too clever for Dirk to trick into cracking the seal, thus her being forced to clean it, Detective Gently is left with only one sensible option: he must buy a new refrigerator.His only prospective client is a paranoid shut-in who rants about monsters wielding scythes and deals being made with the devil. So it is to this mogul-turned-basketcase Dirk goes to visit. On his way he muses about how best to liberate his client’s substantial fortune, and what sort of refrigerator he should buy with his earnings. It isn’t until he arrives at his client’s estate that the severity of the old loon’s paranoia becomes evident, and Dirk finds the man’s decapitated head revolving slowly on a record player’s turn-table. The head appears to have been severed from the body by a long hooked blade. Something like a scythe.“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”It’s hard for characters to be portrayed as care-free and eccentric, without having them come off nihilistic and apathetic. Both Dirk and the female protagonist manage this wild eccentricity without straying into blatant insanity, or becoming wholly uprooted from their reality (although vacations are taken). Fans of the Hitchhiker’s series won’t be disappointed, even if Adams’ humor strays more into Valhalla, and less into spaceships. And anyone new to Adams’ work will be in for a treat, riding along with a private investigator who believes that if you haven’t any idea where you should be headed, just follow a driver who looks like they


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.

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