It’s important to know that I came into this book having already read previous books by Douglas Adams. For those not familiar with his… surreal style, this book might come as a shock. On the other hand, if you are familiar with Douglas Adams, you’ll be right at home. The book starts out mundanely enough: there was a murder. Who’s implicated? None other than Richard Macduff, premiere programmer of a British software firm that made its name selling software to translate pictures and videos into recognizable music. Richard, obviously distraught over his boss’s death, didn’t do it. And that’s where convention ends, even though convention didn’t start to begin with. In a plot only Douglas Adams can decipher, Richard and the eponymous Dirk Gently (the name has a Scottish dagger feel to it) inexplicably connect the dots of a murder in the most misconstrued and convoluted way possible. Oh, did I mention that there’s a horse in the bathroom?
The book itself deserves a 4 out of 5. It’s great, but it’s not as zany as Hitchhiker’s Guide, nor is it as grasping, in that it took a while for the hook to drag me into the story. Granted, once you do get into it, the story is great. Sherlock Holmes as interpreted by Douglas Adams is too easy of a comparison; It gave me more of a Monty Python vibe if Monty Python was composed of time lords with selective amnesia, telepathy, kleptomania and a mischievous nature, and they were tasked with solving a murder. This is probably the first Murder Mystery I’ve read to not focus on the murder, which is remarkable that Douglas Adams was the first to think of it. The characters are likeable, but could have a little more exuberance; that their character lacked a certain mnemonic uniqueness wasn’t very noticeable but definitely occurred over the course of the book. Another complaint is that the sequence of events felt disjointed at the beginning, but this wasn’t a big problem and cleared up quickly when ghosts start to vandalize houses and flats. Above all, it’s a good 300 page read, and well worth a recommendation.