It’s nearly impossible to describe the plot of this book, since there’s so much going on. Suffice it to say that it involves a murder, a mechanical monk (who believes things so you don’t have to), an extremely dull dinner at St. Cedd’s College, Cambridge, a ghost, a cutting-edge (in 1986) computer program, a conjuring trick, a time machine, and the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. There’s also some musings on Schrödinger’s cat, a sliver of romance, and a fairly staggering number of coincidences that ultimately demonstrate “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” In short, it’s a wacky sci-fi rollercoaster of a read, and fans of the “Hitchhiker” books should really enjoy it.
Normally this is the point at which I’d talk about what I liked, what I didn’t like, and my overall opinion of the book. But for some reason, I don’t have much else to say about it. I found it a very enjoyable read and laughed aloud several times (often in public). There were a few parts where the scientific explanations came dangerously close to going over my head, but I was always able to follow what was going on. I would have liked a little more character development for Richard, who is pretty much the only everyman in a world populated by nutcases. But Dirk Gently is absolutely delightful, especially when he’s bamboozling old ladies into paying for his trips to the Bahamas — because although he’s been hired to find their lost cats, the vacations are all part of his process. (OK, so I have things to say about it after all!) In short, I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re in the mood for some humorous science fiction. I plan to read the sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, one of these days.