You can get the whole idea of “Dirk Gently” and his so-called detective agency from one line. Referring to Sherlock Holmes’ famous precept that “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be the truth” Dirk replies, “I prefer not to eliminate the impossible.”
That’s a clever line, but also rather exasperating. That’s Dirk Gently, and this book, in a nutshell. I laughed quite a few times at some inspired bit of absurdity or an ingenious turn of phrase, but mostly I found myself irritated with the story and it’s title character.
The framework around the holistic detective isn’t much to speak of. A software developer goes to see an old professor and somehow winds up a suspect in his boss’s murder. Dirk involves himself in the case because the software developer was a school chum. The detective frustrates everyone involved with his nonsense until he has the insight that cracks the case wide open, and along the way Adams diverts our attention with parallel universes, electric monks, dodo birds, and ghosts.
Unfortunately, readers looking for a compelling mystery are destined to be disappointed.