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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 30 September 2011
An amazing novel by probably the best science-fiction comedy writer of all time. This review is alas, however, for the Kindle edition, which is riddled with errors brought about by its direct OCR translation to digital format, which evidently never underwent anything as elaborate as a once-over proofread before it was released.

Some of these errors diminished understanding of the text altogether. For example, at a pivotal point during the novel, "a book fell out of the pocket" reads "a hook fell out of the pocket," in this edition. The non sequitur caused a cognitive paradox which tore the fabric of the universe around it, and kept me awake for an hour researching wherefore a hook should fall out of any bloody pocket in this novel in the first place.
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on 4 March 2003
After having read Adams's 'Hitchhiker' series, I then wished to read the recently published posthumous compilation of his works, 'The Salmon of Doubt'. Yet after viewing the back of that particular book, I realised that I would benefit from reading his two preceding Dirk Gently novels beforehand. The first, 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency', is hilariously written, with characters that compliment each other perfectly. Dirk Gently himself outranks Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracy, in every manner but conventionality of methods, and it is his theory of the 'interconnectedness' of all things that gives the entire novel its sharp and refreshing originality. If read over a prolonged period, the ending may prove a little confusing; but if closely followed, the intelligent climax will be appreciated. Read this book, then read the others!
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on 4 January 2004
Obviously the name Douglas Adams is always going to mean 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', but for those who have only got that far, there are even greater delights to be found between the covers of 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency'.
Few books can survive multiple readings, but 'Dirk Gently's...' is one of them. The more you read it, the more there is and the more you realise what a genius Adams was.
It's not worth outlining the story or picking illustrations of the writing, suffice to say that this book is quite simply Adams at his brilliant best.
Buy it and read it until it falls apart. Then buy it again. You will NOT be disappointed.
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on 13 August 2001
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is yet another example of the genius that brought us the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. A plot line with as many twists as...something twisty, and as much chaos as the average family household. It's filled with Adams-esque humour, which is subtle enough not to look silly and obvious enough that even *I* get most of the jokes ;o).
Most people see the Dirk Gently novels as secondary to the Hitchhikers series, but in my opinion they approach, and in some places exceed, Hitchhikers. There is something endearing about Dirk Gently, perhaps it's his oddness that most of us can relate to in some way.
If you like slightly insane humour, or any of Adam's other works (which include several Dr. Who scripts as well as the hugely popular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), you should definitely read this book!
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2006
As a novelist the only time Douglas Adams managed to break free of his Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy universe was with his two Dirk Gently novels, of which this is the first. One’s appreciation of this novel will ultimately depend on whether or not you are familiar with Douglas Adams’ work as a scriptwriter for Doctor Who in the late 70’s. If you are not (though for heavens sake why not?) you can instantly add another star to the rating I have given this book, as this novel is an amusing and intelligent read. As with Hitch-Hikers, Douglas Adams is still firmly in comic science fiction mode, and Dirk himself is a hilarious character, a detective who’s insane methods bizarrely seem to have successful results. The only slight quibble here is that Adams seems to be much better at introducing his many ideas (over a third of the novel is gone in a blizzard of Oxford dons, mathematical music, Electric Monks, and a wandering ghost, before Dirk himself is even introduced) than bringing them to a satisfying conclusion (the ultimate dramatic threat of the extinction of humanity is finally raised and instantly resolved in a couple of pages in a very anti-climactic fashion), but as fractured and bitty as this novel is there is plenty to enjoy.
However, while it may all seem fresh and new to some readers, for those familiar with Douglas Adams work on Doctor Who this novel will ultimately turn out to be a rather unsatisfying re-hash of old material. Douglas Adams famously suffered from writer’s block, and looking back one can see that while he initially produced a staggering amount of ideas during the period when he was simultaneously working on Doctor Who and the Hitch-Hiker’s radio series, he then had many rather bare years as a novelist: ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ was a re-write of an old unused Doctor Who story idea, and ‘So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish’ was a virtually plot-less romance novel. ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ itself is a re-write of two of Adams old Doctor Who scripts, ‘Shada’ and ‘City of Death’, and frankly it’s not an improvement on the old material. Inevitably Adams has to do some pretty heavy rewrites to disguise the material, but Dirk himself is such an obvious eccentric Doctor substitute that it becomes increasingly difficult not to visualise Tom Baker in the role when reading the novel. There are still enough asides and new material to make this an interesting read, with the material on the mathematics of music and the tale of a man who suddenly finds himself a ghost being particularly enjoyable, but ultimately this is an inferior re-hash of two superior scripts.
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on 26 December 2010
Great writer, great (short) story, confusing conclusion BUT the Kindle version is strewn with typos and other errors. Makes it hard to follow the complex plot. Amazon needs to tighten up on the proof reading of these electronic books. JP.
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on 9 November 2007
While H2G2 III-V had it's key characters and central cast for continuity, Dirk (both of them) had to work from the ground up for this outing. And they do. To be honest, I wouldn't have had Harry Enfield (wonderful though he is) at the top of my list, but as it turns out, he does a rather splendid job. And yes, there are a few touches missing - the odd line I was listening out for - but I'm more than happy to be happy with this, and embrace it as part of Adams' Radio 4 canon. Billy Boyd, Andrew Sachs, Olivia Colman and Felicity Montagu are all superb (do bears...), and play against many of the hugely talented and versatile voice actors from the recent Hitchhikers series. Oh, and Jim Carter is perfect as Gilks. I look forward to the next series.
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Douglas Adams' underated masterpiece leads Dirk Gently from a search for a missing cat to unlocking the secrets of time travel and saving the human race from total extinction.
I thought no-one could write a better comic novel than 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' until I first read this. I've subsequently re-read this novel countless times and it never fails to entertain, I'm still finding references to literature and popular culture that I've previously missed.
That a novel can be re-read despite the reader knowing what is about to happen is a testement to any novel but this one can be re-read with a suspition that something different will happen this time!
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on 14 August 2004
Hitch Hiker fans. Weird twisted fiction fans. Fictional literature fans with taste. Buy it one and all!
We follow the life of Richard as he gets helped along his way -through the perils of sofa/staircase interactions, swimming in polluted canals for no reason at all and of course being plagued by a ghost - by Reg (his old director of studies) and Dirk Gently (who thankfully changed his name from something utterly unpronouncable that looks like Adams fell asleep on the keyboard!
It is typically brilliant and well worth the read, some things you see coming - but then what would be the point of books of this sort if you dont have the pleasure in being right sometimes! But others you dont see coming.
I have to admit that I thought the ghost of a Dodo was going to use the main characters to establish its race as the dominant one on earth for a good few pages.
Fortunately I was wrong. For all our sakes - ruled by Dodos???
Buy it!
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VINE VOICEon 5 March 2011
Douglas Adams stands apart from other authors in having most of his books professionally dramatised. This book is no exception, although I found it was the one that eluded my attention the longest.

Starting off with a lot of confusion & seemingly jumbled information, I initially put it aside for 1 year or so thinking that it was a bad note in an otherwise flawless collection of work.
However, I gave it another go &, once you get beyond the first CD, the plot begins to make sense & you understand why the book was written in such a way.

The basic plot is that Richard McDuff is falsely accused of murder after his boss (Gordon Way) is slain outside his car. McDuff then teams up with Dirk Gently (an enigmatic friend from college who has mysterious abilities) in order to find evidence to clear his name.

So far, so predictable.

What really makes stands this audio book out from the average detective yarn is the science included throughout the plot & the interesting complexities created by the Holistic nature of the universe (e.g. the fundamental inter-connectedness of all things, combined with time travel, means that a completed version of Kublai Khan (by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) spells the end of the human race).

And I suppose this is why it is such a great book - the plot & the sheer strangeness of the material demand repeat listening/ reading & rewards such people with added insights into what is an astonishingly intricate & well written plot.

Add to this that the story has been fully dramatised, with a well picked cast (including Harry Enfield at his best in the role of Dirk Gently) & you will find a true treat waiting to be discovered.
Get beyond the complexities of Adams' most difficult work & the scientific insights are there for the taking...
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