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Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 309 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Dirk Gently Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently's bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

About the Author

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England in 1952. He has written for radio, television and theater and has worked as a hospital reporter, barn builder, radio producer, and script editor. His bestsellers include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 5.2.1991 edition (June 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671746723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671746728
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James M. Fitzwilliam VINE VOICE on March 9, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"In fact," says Dirk Gently, "everything between 'herring' and 'marmalade' seems to be missing."

Dirk Gently is an example of a breakthrough work: An attempt at something quite artistically new, which is all the more amazing because it actually succeeds. In short, this novel is: a Science Fiction Mystery Comedy.

* DG is a quite good Science Fiction book, with elements such as strange alien technology ("The Electric Monk"), time travel, and an immortal -- if VERY absentminded -- being
* DG is a quite good (and, to borrow another reviewer's term, "self-consistent") mystery/detective novel, even if the detective in question IS rather unorthodox!
* DG is a very funny comedy novel, which parodies not only the detective genre, but also makes not-so-subtle jabs at ivory-tower academics, business executives, British Telecom, and computers (and the geeks that use and program them)

Dirk Gently as a character in particular is a truly original creation. It is both very fortunate that we have him in two novels, and cruel and tragic that Douglas Adams did not live to develop him any further. For one example, many of Dirk's college friends think he is psychic, and are always trying to get him to dream-speak upcoming exam questions. Dirk sets out to prove them wrong by creating a complete copy of an upcoming exam, purely by researching past exams in the same course, studying the syllabus, etc., figuring that he will be only about half right on average, and everyone will see that he is just an ordinary guy and leave him alone. Except that the exam he so produces turns out to be identical to the real one. Oops.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
... unless, of course, you're the kind of person who does precisely the opposite of whatever they are told to... oh! Hang on... that's all of us! Folks, not only is this book brimfull of the usual brilliantly quirky insights and satires of the inimitable mr Adams, but it is also an extremely well thought out, self-consistent detective story, with only a few completely fantastic creatures. (Don't be scared now!) And perhaps the odd (almost) impossible occurence. (Surprised?) The characters are an utter delight, and arguably more sympathetic than the cartoon figures from the hitchikers series. Guaranteed: you'll laugh out loud in places, and at least spend a good deal of the rest of the time with a most idiotically pleasant smile on your face. (Try not to drool in public.) Upon finishing, you will find yourself obsessively compelled to schedule an immediate re-reading, seeing as you will most certainly have missed a number of small delights and teasingly hidden clues. This story Rocks! And Haunts! Unmissable!
I also FORBID you to read Dirk Gently's further adventures in "The long dark teatime of the soul"!
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Format: Hardcover
Having finished with the Hitchhiker's series with So Long And Thanks For The Fish, Douglas Adams created a diptych utilizing the character of Dirk Gently, an eccentric character who in this first novel creates the self-titled Holistic Detective Agency. His method does not involve using fingerprint powder, but rather seeing the fundamental interconnectedness of things. As he elaborates to a client, "I see the solution to each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often much more subtle and complex than we with our rough and ready understanding of the physical world might naturally suppose." Missing cats is a specialty, using Schrodinger's quantum mechanics equation. It also serves to exploit old woman seeking their missing cats of their money, that is if he ever gets paid.
Gently cross paths with his old classmate from St. Cedd's College, Cambridge, Richard MacDuff, who is having a trying and interesting time. MacDuff, a computer programmer working for Way Forward Technologies, becomes involved with his old college tutor, Professor Urban Chronotis, the aged Regius Professor of Chronology, and hence bearing the nickname "Reg" whose vice is conjuring tricks, and in the middle of a dinner honouring Samuel Taylor Coleridge, performs a totally inexplicable one involving a salt shaker and a Grecian pot that perplexes MacDuff. Equally perplexing is how a horse entered the bathroom of his professor.
MacDuff has many other things to worry about. He's overdue on a software programme for his boss Gordon Way, he isn't spending enough time with his girlfriend Susan, who's his boss's sister, and he's got a sofa lodged halfway up the stairs to his flat.
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Format: Audio CD
As much as I loved the Hitchhiker series, I actually enjoyed this book this even more. I originally listened to it on tape, and for a while, I was so confused with the plot, I almost turned it off and went on to something else. But, something (probably Adams's brilliant writing) kept me listening, and I stuck it out. As I kept going, more and more things came together, and I became curious...then involved...then engrossed. By the end of the tape, everything was so clear that I had to start all over and listen again to admire the unexpected way the story was woven together. (I understand Richard Dawkins had the same response to this book, and after reading it again the second time, wrote Douglas Adams the first fan letter Dawkins had ever written to anyone.)

It involves: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, ghosts, electric monks, time travel, cell phones and message machines, a pair of women named Susan, Cambridge University, romance, ancient aliens, Schroedinger's cat and a semi-legitimate (but highly imaginative!) detective named Dirk Gently, oh, and...by the way, the end of the world. If you don't see the connection between all these diverse subjects, it's because you don't understand the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, and therefore you really owe it to yourself to give this book a try!

The only downside at all is that Douglas Adams is not around to give us more of this (and all his other) amazing literary character. I love Doug Adams, and his absence is very, very much felt.
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