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

ISBN: 0671742515
ISBN 13: 9780671742515
By: Douglas Adams

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Genres

Comedy Fantasy Favorites Fiction Humour Mystery Sci Fi Sci Fi Fantasy Science Fiction To Read

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

The Crime Scene Scene

The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul is the second novel in the Dirk Gently series by author Douglas Adams. Dirk Gently is hired by a record producer after he believes he has been stalked by a seven foot tall green eyed monster, However his client soon turns up dead having committed suicide and deciding to take his client's claims seriously happens upon exploding airport counters and a god of Norse mythology.Obviously this is a fantasy novel so it is not really a proper crime novel. That said it was still very humorous and enjoyable.Read the full review here

Jeremy

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.

F.R.

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.

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.

Nathan

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.

Jerzy

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.

Jenz

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.

Phillip

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.

Jayne Ryan

I loved this book in a fun, summer evening bed-time reading kind of way. I have never read anything by Douglas Adams before, but I had seen the Hitch Hiker’s series on TV as a teenager and found myself looking seriously at my older brother and his friends, as they laughed their way through it.So I came to Dirk Gently out-of-order, starting with this book which supercedes ’Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.’ In all probability, and with Adams’ theory of the ‘fundamental interconnectedness of all things,’ it may well be the best place to jump right in.Beyond quirky, and jumping from one character to another, I nearly gave up on the book, thinking there actually wasn’t very much connectedness going on at all. But slowly I came to love Dirk, for his unending willingness to see where the universe would take him, his belief that he would end up where he needed to be, and his preference for throwing his refrigerator away rather than cleaning it out.By the end of the book I was cheering for Dirk, and Adam’s ability to write from the feeling of the soul rather than the intellect won me over. I can’t wait to read the first book. What a shame he passed away before he completed the third book of the series.

Pvw

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.

Lifewithautismandbipolar

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.

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.

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.

Lo

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.

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 do.--theinquisitiveloon.wordpress.com

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