May 16, 2012

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams, so it's probably shameful of me not to have read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency until last week.  I love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, whether it be the books, tv series, or movie.  (I haven't listened to the radio shows yet.)  Adams did great work on Doctor Who as both a writer and a script editor, penning some of my favorite episodes.  And yet, for some reason I had neglected his two Dirk Gently books.  When I saw the new British tv show loosely based on Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, I was reminded of my oversight.  

Dirk Gently is a private detective who believes in "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things."  He uses these connections between sometimes seemingly unrelated people or events to solve his cases.  Dirk could be described as eccentric and his methods unorthodox.  Most people just think he is nuts.  The police think he gets in the way.  In this book he has to deal with a ghost, a time traveler, a monk who happens to be an android, and the possible extinction of life on earth.  Plus, there is the matter of the lovely horse who inexplicably appears in an upstairs bathroom. 

This being a Douglas Adams book, it's more science fiction than mystery.  I was surprised to find elements of the Doctor Who stories "Shada" and "City of Death."  The novel is funny, and it's filled with great characters.  Douglas Adams was excellent at creating well-drawn, interesting characters.  I expect the sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, to be just as good.

Sadly, there are only two Dirk Gently books.  Douglas Adams died in 2001 at the age of 49, having only completed eleven chapters of the next Dirk Gently story, The Salmon of Doubt.  Although those chapters were published posthumously in a collection with some of his essays and other writings, readers will never know how Douglas Adams intended that novel to end. But to me, Dirk Gently will always be out there, using the interconnectedness of all things to explain the impossible and the improbable.

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