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Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul are the two books written by Douglas Adams (of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame) starring the character Dirk Gently. A third novel under the working title The Salmon of Doubt was in the works, but its publication was prevented by Adams' death.
Dirk is a small-scale con artist whose latest scheme is working as a "Holistic Detective", who believes in the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things" and how that means that anything might prove useful in solving the whole cases of his clients — which, the way he sees it, means that he can do anything he likes, even take a three-week tropical vacation, and still charge it to the client as an expense. Of course, by Finagle's Law, somehow every mundane little job he starts off working on in each novel is somehow actually connected to the main plot, and he's the one who has to solve everything.
This series as a whole provides examples of:
- Author Existence Failure: Midway through the writing of the third book. After Adams's death, parts of the unfinished manuscript were published along with various other writings extracted from his Macintosh in The Salmon of Doubt.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Dirk's favorite way of getting places he shouldn't be.
- Chekhov's Armoury: Dirk isn't wrong--everything that happens in these books is ultimately important. The Dirk Gently books embody this trope really because they are all about the interconnectedness of everything. Chekov's Armoury isn't just a device Adams used, it's what he based the whole book on.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Whatever Dirk claims to believe in order to extract cash from gullible people invariably turns out to really be true, but always in such a way that he looks bad, sometimes in such a way that he suffers physical or emotional trauma, and never in such a way that he gets the money.
- Not So Phony Psychic: As described above under Laser-Guided Karma; Dirk has twice posed as a psychic, been uncannily right both times, and got arrested for it the first time. He now spends a lot of time insisting to people who were there that he's not psychic. Usually they don't believe him and his reputation from the first incident often precedes him.
- Occult Detective
- Perpetual Poverty: Dirk never seems to have much money — a Running Gag in Holistic Detective Agency is his secretary quitting over not getting paid — and most certainly never gets paid by his clients. He manages to stay in his office, flat, etc, through arranging the situation so that it would be more inconvenient to actually eject him or force him to pay than just let him be and hope that he'll pay some day.
- Rage Against the Heavens: In response to the Laser-Guided Karma mentioned above, Dirk has also, on at least one occasion, stood outside, fist clenched at the sky, and screamed for life to stop screwing with him.
- Viewers Are Geniuses
Adaptations with their own trope page include:
- Dirk Gently (BBC TV series)
Other adaptations of this series provide examples of:
- Shout-Out: The BBC radio adaptions of the novels re-use several sound effects from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and include a reference to the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation.