Sunday, December 30, 2007

#50: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
fiction, (c) 1991 , 306pp
rating: ***

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has long been on my shelf of "frequent re-reads". So, for my 50th book of the year, I picked up Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the first book of Douglas Adams' less well-known series. I use the word series loosely, as there are only two books. Adams left a third book, Salmon of Doubt unfinished at the time of his death.

The plot of this book is convoluted at best, but I'm going to try and describe it. The book starts with a series of unrelated events: an electric monk on a horse going through a door in a desert; a young woman going on a date; a young computer programmer having dinner with an old college professor. As the book goes on, these threads start to come together when a side-character is murdered. At that point, Dirk Gently (finder of missing cats and saver of the world) enters the picture to solve the crime using the interconnectedness of all things. Are you confused yet? You should be, because I was. Through a series of strange plot twists, including a time paradox, all things are resolved. To say anything about the plot twists would be to give too much away, so I'll have to leave you with just these things.

The only - the ONLY - reason this book works at all is because Douglas Adams is so clever. His satire of academics and computer programmers is dead on. A lot of the dialogue is really snappy, which is partially why his books lend themselves so well to radio shows and other serials. On the downside, I found the character of Dirk Gently to be irritating instead of endearing. Many of his monologues seemed to be an excuse for Douglas to show off just how freakin' clever he is - which turned me off, as a reader. The ending of the book seemed sort of slapped together as all of the pieces conveniently fall into place within a space of thirty pages.

If you like Douglas Adams' humor, and you've got nothing better to read, go ahead and pick up this book. But I wouldn't go looking for it.

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