By Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently, private detective, offers unique investigational services. When probing unexplained circumstances, Gently finds answers in not only the highly unlikely but also the downright impossible, for whatever cannot possibly be done must therefore be impossibly done. His bills are equally holistic, including anything and everything remotely connected to his methods of detection because at the root of it all, everything is fundamentally interconnected. Though unusual in the extreme, his antics are also extraordinarily effective. When first introduced to Gently, he picks up a case concerning a salt cellar in a Grecian pot, human suggestibility to do things one is not typically wont to do, and the unexpected death of a leading tech entrepreneur. In the second installment, Gently finds himself questioning an act of God (but which god, and why), tormented by a particularly persistent eagle, tracking down potatoes, and evading his egregiously disgusting fridge. His apparent bumbling and missteps, all of which can retroactively be deemed intentional whether they were intentional in the first place or not, lead to unbelievable conclusions that neatly explain everything and justify (almost) every charge on his bills.
The Dirk Gently Omnibus contains the first two Dirk Gently stories: “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul,” both by the unparalleled Douglas Adams (the third book in the series was unfinished at the time of Adams’ death, portions of which are published in the posthumous “Salmon of Doubt”). As with all other writings from Adams, the Dirk Gently novels are rambunctious, unpredictable, and laugh-out-loud funny. I would even go so far as to say they cause ROFL. Gently approaches his cases with such an open-minded perspective that his decisions and actions seem entirely absurd, yet also completely rational. He blatantly and directly questions behaviors that go unquestioned (and therefore unexplained), which makes his statements both unusual and completely obvious. It also forces characters (and readers) to examine their reasoning and explain unquestioned behaviors. Throughout it all is a supremely healthy sense of fun. The whims and instincts that guide Gently’s investigations are narrated by light-hearted satire that pokes fun at British (and U.S.) institutions, cultural quirks, and bureaucratic nightmares without edging into a mean or cynical tone. Gently’s internal monologue, and sometimes his conversation with others, reflect this by stating those thoughts we all have that just might be better left unsaid. Except when provoked.
The Dirk Gently novels are, in my humble opinion, highly underestimated and unfortunately sidelined by the greater prominence of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” despite being more entertaining (in my humble opinion). I have read both books multiple times, and I actually recommend starting with “The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” because “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” goes through a lot of backstory and exposition that tend to cause some drag in the early parts of the story. I cannot recommend enough reading both of these books, and then doing it again. And again!