Dirk Gently Books in Order: Your Guide to Douglas Adams’ Holistic Detective Adventures

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Dirk Gently is not your ordinary detective. Born Svlad Cjelli, the man bills himself as a “holistic detective”, meaning he uses “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things” to solve crimes. Mostly, Dirk tries to scam money out of his clients while, to his own surprise, solving the case. Also, he didn’t really scam anyone, because it would imply that one of his clients would have paid him.

Created by British writer Douglas Adams, well-known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Dirk Gently series is a humorous detective series, described by his author as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic.”

Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently Reading and Watching Guide

The Dirk Gently franchise includes two and a half books, a comic book series and several adaptations on television, radio and stage.

Dirk Gently Book Series in Order

Dirk Gently’s comic books (IDW)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988)
The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

Published between 2015 and 2017 by IDW Publishing, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a comic book series that can serve as a bridge between the Adams books and the American television series adaptation (by Max Landis).

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short (takes place after The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul)
Dirk Gently: The Salmon of Doubt (two volumes) (written by the producers of the TV show, with characters from Adams books and from the TV Show. It is a sort of little prequel to the TV show).
Dirk Gently: The Interconnectedness of All Kings (The first comic book published, but takes place later as Dirk relocates to California).

Dirk Gently’s television and radio series

Two television series inspired by Dirk Gently have been produced. Both of them take some inspiration from the novels but don’t adapt directly.

Dirk Gently (TV series, 2010-2012)
Created by Howard Overman. With Stephen Mangan as holistic detective Dirk Gently and Darren Boyd as his sidekick Richard MacDuff. Only four episodes.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (TV series, 2016-2017)
Created by Max Landis for BBC America. With Samuel Barnett as Dirk Gently and Elijah Wood as his sidekick Todd Brotzman. Two seasons, 18 episodes. Beware, it’s pretty far removed from the books.

For a more faithful adaptation of Dirk Gently, turn your attention towards the BBC Radio 4 drama featuring Harry Enfield as Dirk, Billy Boyd as Richard, Olivia Colman as Janice, Jim Carter as Gilks, and Laurel Lefkow as Kate Schechter. Created by Dirk Maggs, two series have been made, based on the first two novels.

– Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC Radio, 2007-2008)

About Douglas Adams

Born on March 11, 1952 (Cambridge, England), Douglas Noël Adams was a well-known British author best known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Adams was motivated to break into television and radio as a writer after getting an M.A. in English literature from the University of Cambridge. He wrote comedic sketches for the performing arts association and briefly worked as a writer and script editor for the legendary television show Doctor Who.

Adams found tremendous success with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Originally a radio series, the popularity led to a five-book bestseller series that solidified Adams’ place as a literary icon. Adams struggled to meet writing deadlines while working on the radio series (and other projects at the same time), which worsened when he released novels. Adams was never a prolific writer and was often pushed to write by others.

In addition to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams satirised the detective-story genre with the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series and traveled to various locations with zoologist Mark Carwardine in the documentary and its companion nonfiction book Last Chance to See in hope of encountering species on the verge of extinction.