Anatomy of a Book: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, by Douglas Adams

dirk-gently-bookThis time there would be no witnesses. (p.1)

There is one problem with this book.

“Ah, the real culprit,” he said, holding up the swan. (p.15)

Perhaps there are two problems, but neither is the swan.

This seemed to relieve the old man. (p.58)

Yes, the swan is fine, and by the end the problems are gone. This is a relief as it is a thoroughly enjoyable read for very good reasons.

Changing Status:

The problem is that Dirk Gently introduces himself on page 90. That feels awfully late for a title character to make an impact, and another important character comes into the story after this. Both are alluded to earlier, but it is only on re-reading the first 90 pages that the influences of their roles can be seen. Until then the main status changes affect Richard McDuff and Gordon Way, so at least there is something happening.

High Stakes:

Lives and relationships can be lost. Both can be seen as important and both have drastic actions attached.

Page Turner:

Events unfold over just a few days, with sometimes rash decision making impacting events. The story as a whole is complicated, and therefore the first 90 pages take on more relevance with a second reading, but considering the complexity untaken the language and style is very easy reading, and often humorous.

Believable Characters:

There’s an endearing way most characters are treated, and a sparseness of detail gives reality to descriptions as the reader fills in any gaps.


Have you ever wanted to know more about time travel, musical time signatures, inventing the catflap and burglary? Read this book to find out.


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