Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently #1)" by Douglas Adams

The trouble I had with this book is... I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy first. That may not seem like such an insurmountable problem, but when this book also has robots, quirky characters, and save the world-type plot threads, I find myself dreadfully sad that there is no Marvin the Paranoid Android to comment on the goings-on. There is an Electric Monk, but I must say, it's a poor substitute for the robot I really wanted.

I read this one because there is an upcoming BBC series based on it (and also, Rachelle loved it, and I was curious). I like Douglas Adams's writing, but when I have brain fog, I can be a bit slow to catch onto his humor, and I was in a bit of a stupor while reading this. I assumed this was urban fantasy (because, detective agency), but it's more sci-fi than anything else. I was reminded of a book I'd read previously, Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews, which also melds sci-fi into a modern day setting (although modern day for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is 1987).

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common? Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge). To find out more, read this book (better still, buy it, then read it) – or contact Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.'

Despite this being set in 1987, there were a lot of things that are still applicable to today's society. For example, couches that improbably get stuck in stairwells. Although car phones are now defunct, couches/furniture stuck in stairwells continues to plague modern society. If only we had computer whiz Richard finish the program he started, we would have much less trouble moving things (and/or trying to get couches into spaces couches cannot fit).

Richard, who is a main character along with Dirk (which isn't his real name, by the way), has to navigate a murder inquiry of his boss, while having admitted he saw his boss on the night he was killed to a policeman prior to knowing his boss was dead. As you may notice from my difficulty structuring that beast of a sentence, it's a rather murky area, so Dirk elects to help him through his troubles for a fee. Dirk Gently was previously arrested for scamming fellow students with his supposed psychic skills to help them with upcoming tests, but Richard doesn't seem to hold it against him.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is a great adventure- but I still wanted more. Perhaps with time I will acclimate myself to the absence of Marvin (as I did buy the next book in the series right after finishing this one), but for now I'm a bit bummed out by his non-existence in this realm of Douglas Adams's mind. I recommend this book to those who enjoyed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or would like zany sci-fi adventures, as long as they keep their expectations in check.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great sci-fi that made me long for a great robot.

Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for swearing (one f bomb, if I remember right), violence/murder, and couches improbably stuck in stairwells.

Page Count: 306 pages

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