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



“It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion on them.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.”

dghdaDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Douglas Adams

I rate it: 9.5/10

A very happy Towel Day to all Douglas Adams fans out there! No matter how strange things get, don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

I stumbled into Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy all by myself a few years ago, but it was the esteemed Abhishek Mukherjee who shoved me headfirst into his other works, namely the two Gently novels, and the delightful Meaning of Liff.

Dirk Gently is a detective unlike any other you have read about. He doesn’t believe in eliminating the impossible and making do with the improbable, he seeks to find out how the impossible happened. He does not focus on the problem, he believes in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things and that one cannot solve a problem without solving the universe first. Unfortunately, the only utilisation he has been able to make of his considerable talents is trying to convince elderly female clients to send him to the beaches of Bermuda to search for their missing cats. Until, that is, he noses out an incredible puzzle, involving a horse in a bathroom, an impossible magic trick, the horrendous murder of a software tycoon, an impossibly stuck sofa, a meaningless note on a chit of paper, a missing question, and the impossibly out-of-character behaviour of his long-ago friend, which may or may not indicate possession (of the ghostly kind, not the narcotic kind).

horse in bathtub

(I learnt while writing this paragraph that the thesaurus has very few synonyms for the word impossible and no exactly suitable ones at all).

Holistic Detective Agency, as you might have guessed, is not really a detective story, much as HHGG is not really science fiction. It is a Douglas Adams story, which means it is abruptly funny, incisively witty, and crawling with daringly crazy characters like the electric monk,  the centuries old professor, and the pre-historic alien ghost. It is also, and this was a surprise, very logical in its essence, and manages to tie up all the absurdities neatly, even when they range from Coleridge’s albatross to Bach.


There are only two complete Dirk Gently books: this first one and a second one called The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. I do not think I will review the second book- it proves one of my theories that sequels were not Adams’s metier. Holistic Detective Agency, by comparison, and not merely by comparison, is richly brilliant.


I would not recommend Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, or in fact, any of Adams, to anybody who does not have a ready, open sense of humour and a healthy appreciation for absurdity. If you, dear reader, do not honestly belong to this unfortunate category, then I urge you to sample some of the sparkling brilliance of Douglas Adams, and thank me later.


-Amritorupa “never throw in your towel” Kanjilal

While you are here, have a look at:

6 Responses to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams: A Review

  1. This sounds wonderful! I’ve never read any Douglas Adams, although I have, of course, heard of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…after reading this, I can’t wait to try him 😀

  2. I hope you took the time to read the other Dirk Gently book, which is every bit as good as the first. Did you do the drawing? Seems to match the description.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>