Monday, January 21, 2008

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams

As promised in my review of The Salmon Of Doubt, I read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency next. And you know, it was a fine read. It wasn't like reading Hitchhiker's, but it was good. I hate to damn it with faint praise, but that's what I think.

So what is it all about? Well, I guess you'd call it a comedy about several individuals whose lives (and one death) all interact in various improbable ways. The story takes place mostly on earth and mostly in the now that was present in the late 80's (when there were car phones but not cell phones), though there are some excursions to far away points in both time and space. There's also a couch stuck in a hallway in such a way that it cannot possibly be removed and could not have gotten there in the first place.

If there's a problem with this novel, it may be that there are too many plot lines that converge in too many convenient ways for me to suspend my disbelief completely. I know it's the whole point of the Dirk Gently mythos - everything is tied together in improbable ways that only Dirk can ferret out - but I just couldn't quite swallow it all. That may have limited the impact of some of the humor.

Oh, and despite the title I don't think that Dirk Gently is actually the main character. In fact it's hard to say who is in that role. There are several to chose from, and some never meet Dirk himself in the course of the story.

In the end I'd say this was a fun book, but didn't contain the laugh out loud humor that other work by Adams - like the Hitchhiker's series - is known for. At some point I'll reread Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul and see how it has held up. I recall there were some funny bits about Thor in that one.