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Audio Drama Review


Dirk Gently
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul


Author: Douglas Adams
Starring: Harry Enfield
BBC Audio
RRP: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 4056 8755 3
Available 13 November 2008

Holistic private detective Dirk Gently is down on his luck... again. Work is slack, his long-suffering secretary Janice has left to work for British Airways, and her Spanish replacement has gone missing after a disagreement about cleaning the fridge. Even the approach of a man claiming to be hounded by a goblin waving a contract and a green furry creature with a scythe doesn't spark his curiosity. However, when he finds himself investigating the decapitation of a man (apparently a suicide) he soon discovers there is a certain interconnectedness to events. A Norwegian man called Thor who tries to check on to a flight with only a large hammer and no passport, an old man called Odin, who cares for nothing but clean sheets and peace and quiet, and an advertising agency with a definite Nordic theme are inextricably linked. Dirk Gently brings those things together using the technique of randomly following a car which will take him, not where he wants to go, but where he needs to be...

This audio adaptation of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, like the original book, is considerably more linear and coherent as a whole than its predecessor, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. We still have the abundance of crazy, seemingly random and irrelevant ideas, but this time we get an inkling of the plot and are privy to certain reveals long before Dirk is (Gently, that is!). We then hitch a lift on Gently's hat as he (accidentally in most cases) moves the chaos into a semblance of... well, more chaos really. This step-by-step unravelling of a mad tale is considerably preferable to the first story's device of only coming together right at the very end.

I like the exploration of Norse gods and their limited interaction in the modern world. Thor is in effect flying the flag for the old ways; he is by far the best character and you can't help but get carried along by his enthusiasm. He is the Jack Regan of Valhalla, shouting a lot and forcing his way through situations. Some of the exchanges between Thor and Kate are very amusing.

There are decided references here to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and particularly the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, mainly through the character of Richard Macduff. We hear the distinctive sound of the Book when a search is keyed-in and even hear a snippet of Marvin, who is obviously about to tell us about the diodes down his left side.

So there's plenty to enjoy here (the sound quality is as good as we've come to expect from Dirk Maggs), although the whole does improve with repeated listenings. As with the first Gently audio we are treated to extra material not broadcast on radio and a couple of ideas from Douglas Adams's unfinished novel, The Salmon of Doubt. Unfortunately, Salmon will not now be adapted for a third audio experience, as stalwart writer/producer/director Dirk Maggs has parted company with Above the Title Productions.


Ty Power

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