Watching the Detective

A review of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short

by Rodney Turner

I must admit that, as a fan of the Dirk Gently books, there was a little trepidation going into this series. How does one tackle a character created by a master of the form? Certainly a concern for any fan of a property that is adapted in a form different than it is usually consumed. In some cases, the characters or setting is altered from the source in an extremely radical way where the property is barely recognizable.

My worries were unwarranted. A Spoon Too Short is one of most enjoyable books I have read this year. Arvind Ethan David does not attempt to make the book a copy of Adams’ style. Instead, he borrows enough elements and proceeds to create a unique and satisfying vision of Dirk’s world that I feel will appeal to fans of the source material as well as readers new to the character.

For those readers unfamiliar with the character, Dirk Gently-as the title suggests- is a holistic detective who holds the belief that all things are fundamentally connected. This belief manifests as the ability to uncover patterns and draw accurate conclusions from seemingly random events. It is an unusual method of detection which leads to an unusual case load. In A Spoon Too Short, Dirk is called to a psychiatric hospital to look into a family who, after a trip to Africa, completely lost the ability to speak.

David handles the snowballing strangeness deftly and with a great sense of comedic timing in the main story while simultaneously weaving an origin story for Dirk that is rather somber in comparison to the lighter tone of the plot.

The art style fits very well with into the book. The flashbacks to Dirk’s childhood are rendered in a style resembling Calvin and Hobbs while the art of Dirk as an adult reminds me, at times, of Monkey Punch’s Lupin III. The opening panels depicting a dream/flashback were a little unexpected but the sequences are paced perfectly that I felt like I was floating across time with ease.

I can’t wait until I get my hands on more adventures of the holistic detective.

Get the comic here.

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