The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

By Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently is a holistic private detective that solves mysteries by looking for the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, including his moldy refrigerator. Having been hired to help with a contract related to a potato of some sort, Gently first shows up to work more than 5 hours late to find his client recently decapitated. From there, he heads to a café where he steals both the cup of coffee and the book belonging to the woman sitting at the table next to him. Meanwhile, Kate Schehter, who had been involved in “an act of God” the week before (but which god, and why), does her own investigatory work to find answers for questions she doesn’t yet fully understand. Kate and Gently unexpectedly crash into each other (well, it was really just a fender-bender) down the street from a notorious hospital that seems to be covering up some information. After swapping stories, Kate and Gently part ways with the agreement to share any other information, however improbable, they find. As Gently continues on his unexpected day, he finds himself in a most unlikely situation. In fact, it is a quite impossible situation. But what cannot possibly be done must therefore be done impossibly, and Gently will do whatever it takes to solve the case.

“The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” by Douglas Adams is the second of two novels in the Dirk Gently series, though the series does not necessarily need to be read sequentially. Adams introduces characters, storylines, plot twists, and non-sequitur explanations enough for the reader to just barely keep up with the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. As with all his other material, Adams describes Gently’s improbable world with wit and humor that is delightfully snarky without crossing into the realm of blatantly cynical. The storyline progresses with this tone in the familiarly unpredictable “one step forward, two steps to the side” that typifies Adams’ other writings. Upon first glance it seems impossible that all these tangential storylines and irrelevant details could possibly be related, but have patience. Adams, of course, finds a way to bring all pieces of the story together, emphasizing not only the fundamental interconnectedness of all things but also his ability to follow a story through every dimension of the universe and bring it all back to the task at hand. Raucous, wild, and unbelievably enthralling, Adams delivers yet another stunning science fiction gem.

This book had me rolling with laughter, almost to an inappropriate degree, when I read it in public. It was even more hilarious when reading in the privacy of my own home. Dare I say it, I love this book even more than “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series (blasphemy, I know). Astoundingly original, unbelievably far-fetched, and entirely satisfying, I can’t think of anything else to ask for in a novel. If you haven’t read it yet, put it at the top of your reading list. Now. You won’t regret it!

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