Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams – 4 stars

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

I love Douglas Adams. His novels are quirky without being contrived, easy to read without forfeiting richness of writing, and consistently hilarious.

This is my second Douglas Adams book – the first being ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ – but
I think until now I had concentrated on the witty quirk rather than the genuine quality of Adams’ writing. Some of the descriptions in this book blew me away – I’d had him pinned as ‘Just Another Sci-Fi Writer’; now his subtle genius has made him a firm favourite for me.

The structure of the story weaved here grounds everything, and allows space for whole realms of wacky without the reader getting completely lost. As threads are tied we begin to see the writer has not only a child-like imagination but a profound intelligence, something I admit I hadn’t credited him with before.

I loved the characters too: despite a distinct lack of female presence (this book fails miserably at the Bechdel Test), every character felt well-formed and believable. Even better, I think the author knew his characters well too; while they were all a little quirky, and perhaps embodied some of Adams’ own characteristics, they were a joy to read about and made the story special.

In spite of all this, the book did drop a star, and for me this was because of the philosophical undertones. Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe books should make you think, and I’m all for a dose of Deeper Meaning. What I don’t appreciate is an author that, instead of presenting his own views, ridicules others’. There were parts of the book that I felt the author’s opinions bleeding through in such a bitter way that it leeched some of the enjoyment out of the book for me.

Nevertheless, four stars is still a great rating, and I did genuinely enjoy this book.


If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading, and had a lovely day!