Douglas Adams is, of course, most famous for his Hitchhiker’s Guide books. And like any reasonable geek of a certain age, I read those in middle school about 20-30 times, to the point where I can almost open up to a random spot and start quoting.

But even after all that, I never can keep the rambling plot of the books straight. Which is why it was such a surprise to me to first read Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency back in the day. Because here’s a book whose plot seems at first to be just as shaggy and uncontrolled as that of the Hitchhiker’s Guide... except then it all fits together just so, and it turns out to be one of the most tightly-plotted books I’ve read.

Re-reading it now, it turns out to be just as tightly plotted as I remember, but also somewhat sadder. Adams’ work was always a mixture of humour and melancholy, and this is definitely tilted further toward the melancholy side than the Hitchhiker’s Guide, which is presumably why I re-read that one so often and this one not so much.

Still, it’s not depressingly bleak or anything (though I remember that the sequel is, so won’t be reading that again), and it’s a very well-done novel with lots of quotable bits and a memorable and unique story. If you haven’t read this, and you enjoy the more sober and well-done type of British humour, you should give it a go.


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