Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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OUTSIDE THE BOX
From Dr. Who to Monty Python

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

The late Douglas Adams not only loved to dress up in a giant chicken suit and smoke cigars, he also loved to write off-the-wall, hilarious novels with a level of wit, perfect for the most formal business man and the town drunk alike.

Adams is most remembered for his work with Monty Python, Dr. Who and his inaccurately named five-part trilogy, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy. He later wrote two amazing, often overlooked books, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea Tim of The Soul (1988).

Both novels follow the deranged and complex life of shady detective Dirk Gently. Gently's tactics are sub-par at best, but somehow he always manages to get the job done in a head-scratching manner.

One of Gently's most effective methods involves following random vehicles. Although this rarely gets him where he expects to go, he always seems to end up where he should be.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is the first book of the two and revolves around Richard MacDuff, a computer programmer who has a Chesterfield sofa lodged in his staircase. Gently, an acquaintance of Richard, spots him breaking and entering and begins to untangle a very complex web involving an electric monk, a horse and an ancient mariner.

The Long Dark Tea Time of The Soul, the second and final book in the two-part series, begins with Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport exploding. The destruction is deemed an act of God and Gently attempts to find out which God and why?

What makes Adams's characters so amazing is the strange qualities they all possess, and how each individual's quirks plays a huge role in solving a mind-boggling mystery. Adams includes the most unusual elements and somehow makes them vital to the overall plot.

Once you read the first novel, there is no doubt you will run out to grab the second. Adams had a gift for the uncanny and he was one of the few people who could write a book that will have you laughing out loud.

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