Monday, March 25, 2013

The late author Douglas Adams, best known for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. also wrote about the unusual detective Dirk Gently and his Holistic Detective Agency.  Dirk believes in the interconnectedness of all things, so if there is a crime to be investigated, he assumes every random thing he encounters in the course of his investigation is somehow connected to the crime and will lead him to the answers he's seeking.

Dirk is certainly eccentric.  In the first of his four cases that are included in this series (the pilot episode), we meet Dirk as he's taking on a case. An elderly lady asks him to find her missing cat.  She's willing to pay whatever it takes to find him, which is a good thing, as one of the expenses that Dirk deems is absolutely necessary to locating the lost feline is a new refrigerator (his old one is out of commission because he hasn't paid the cleaner and she's locked it).  As he's leaving her flat, he notices the flat next door apparently being burgled.  Far from being alarmed or calling the police, Dirk gets the neighbor's phone number and calls -- and the "burglar" answers.  It turns out that the burglar is his old college chum MacDuff, and that he's not breaking into the place, he's simply trying to retrieve his girlfriend's laptop to delete an email message he sent in anger. 

This reunion proves fortuitous, because MacDuff, unemployed and depressed, becomes Dirk's assistant and eventually buys into the business (although Dirk certainly doesn't use the money to pay business expenses!).  Dirk and MacDuff investigate other strange cases involving time travel, shadowy hit men, CIA spies,  and industrial espionage.  Because of his general avoidance of paying any bills, he must also deal with angry receptionists, hostile cleaners, trap-setting plumbers and a pile of eviction notices. 

Dirk does have some unusual skills, such as his talent for "Zen Navigation."  This involves following someone who looks like they know where they're going in order to end up somewhere you need to be.  Or "Narcoleptic Clairvoyance," which involves the ability to tell the future while asleep.  These unique talents certainly seem to come in handy during his search for answers, but unfortunately they don't seem to bring him any material gains!  His method of working is also interesting.  Much like the police investigation boards we're used to seeing, Dirk creates his own boards listing all the information that comes in, and attempting to connect it to the puzzle he's working on at the time.  When the case is over, he just paints over the wall and starts again.

The series is quite interesting in seeing how Dirk comes to the conclusions which ultimately solve the cases.  But as a person, he's rather annoying.  He doesn't pay his bills, is extremely messy, and has no problem with causing difficulties for everyone around him.  Still, his clients do get results (except for the one case where some of them ended up murdered, but that could happen to any detective!) and watching him use is "holistic" methods is entertaining.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Dirk Gently from Acorn Media in exchange for this review.

Final Verdict for Dirk Gently Four Gherkins, for being an amusing look at the methods of an unconventional detective


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

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