Thursday, 30 August 2012

Books: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

If you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy then it’s a safe bet that you will also love this book.


Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency has that unmistakably
unique Douglas Adams sense of brilliant weirdness about it.
Usually when reviewing a book it’s normally quite a simple task to provide a brief one chapter summary at the start of the review to summarise the basic plot of the story, but with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency the brilliantly unique quirkiness of the story make it a somewhat more difficult task to sum it all up in one paragraph.

So instead I’ll quote from Douglas Adams himself when he describes it as, “A thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic.”  There are so many elements to this book that it’s extremely hard to categorise, but that comment from Douglas Adams sums it up as accurately as it’s possible to do in one sentence.


And although the title might suggest that Dirk Gently is the one man star of the show, in actual fact there are several interesting characters in this book with Dirk himself not actually making a first appearance until a few chapters into the story.  In actual fact Richard MacDuff, a computer programmer who’s creations include software to convert company accounts into music and a 3D computer model to attempt to work out how to remove the sofa stuck halfway up his stairs, is perhaps closer to what you would usually describe as the main character than Dirk.


Kobo (UK)


Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency starts off with several seemingly totally unrelated story-lines but in the end they all finally tie together and make perfect sense.  In fact the significance of some of the specifics of the plot don’t become apparent until the very end so if I was going to be ultra critical I would possibly say that revealing some of the key elements of the plot earlier on may have added to the suspense.  That would of course be unnecessarily harsh, however, as you don’t buy a Douglas Adams book for the suspense.  You read his work for the exceptionally unique comedy and the imaginatively creative ideas which he crams into all of his novels and on that score Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency reliably delivers.

Douglas Adams’ writing is probably more deserving of the title ‘science fiction’ than any other writers as he always fills his stories with lots of off-the-wall fictional science based creative hypotheses.  Sometimes these are integral to the plot and other times they maybe only get a brief mention for a couple of paragraphs as an interesting side note, but they are always very imaginative and always get you thinking.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is no different in this respect and for a book which you would first and foremost categorise as a comedy book, there are also a large number of imaginative concepts found within its pages.  For anyone who has read The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy this won’t of course come as any surprise, but it’s still worth giving credit to the level of mental stimulation you will get from reading this book.




And for all this is a comedy book, one of my favourite passages was in fact a serious section where the main character, Richard MacDuff, describes the power of the human mind.  He explains how when a ball is thrown there are numerous complex calculations which need to be calculated to determine the ball’s path such as initial velocity, direction of travel, gravity, air resistance, etc, and yet someone who maybe has difficulty with simple maths equations can instantly process all of these calculations in a fraction of a second and thus catch the ball.

Adams then goes on to compare the complexity of the ball’s flight to the complexity of music and the way our emotions respond to it, and then continues on to our emotional response to the beauty of nature and other elements of life.  It’s a fascinating and beautifully written section and it just shows that in amongst all the very entertainingly interesting fictional science that Douglas Adams comes up with for his stories, he could also have been a very talented serious writer if he had ever had the inclination.

Overall, while not quite in the same league as The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy books, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency nevertheless definitely has that unmistakably unique Douglas Adams sense of brilliant weirdness about it, so if you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy then it’s a pretty much safe bet that you will also love this book.


The official Douglas Adams website can be found here:
DouglasAdams.com

The O
fficial Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Fan Club run a Douglas Adams fan account on twitter:
@douglasadams

Worthy Of A Bigger Audience is also on twitter:
@WoabaBlog

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4 comments:

  1. Hi there, the September edition of Books You Loved has now posted. Here is the link Books You Loved September Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Carole. I checked out your blog and it's a great idea for a blog, so thanks again for visiting Worthy Of A Bigger Audience.

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  3. thanks for linking in to Books You loved, Charles. Have a great week.

    Ps I am now following you by email. It would be super if you followed Carole's Chatter back.

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  4. Thanks for the follow, Carole, and I've also followed Carole's Chatter.

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