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

ISBN: 0671742515
ISBN 13: 9780671742515
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


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.

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.


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.


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.

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'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.

Rachel Haimowitz

I know most people love Douglas Adams for his H2G2 series, and certainly I am one of them, but the (tragically short) Dirk gently series is--at least to me--the much better of the two. Here we see Adams's humor evolving and maturing, moving away from the realm of crude and slapstick humor and solidly into the realm of high-level wordplay. It's still uniquely, bizarrely Adams, with the same profound sense of wacky playfulness and plots more twisted than a coil of rope, but the Gently characters run deeper (and Gently himself is a masterpiece) and the language is sharper, more carefully chosen and masterfully wielded. If you loved H2G2, I cannot recommend the Gently books highly enough. Even if you didn't love H2G2, I cannot recommend the Gently books highly enough.

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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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."

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