The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is probably most widely known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but he has also written a humoristic detective novel with roots in the fantasy genre. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (best title ever?) is the second novel starring private detective Dirk Gently in a leading role (the first novel is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which I have not read). The novel has strong influences of norse mythology, with gods Thor and Odin making cameo appearances.

The book opens with the narrator’s thoughts on airports and their inherent ugliness, but soon moves focus to Kate Schecther, the key character in the first scene, who is standing in line at Heathrow. Adams goes on to reveal Schechter’s motifs and reasons for being at said ugly airport, we get a glimpse of her background and Adams swiftly gives us an idea of what type of a person she is. We are informed that she is not really superstitious, but at present time she is doubting whether the Universe is trying to tell her that she should not go to Norway (where she is heading), and we also understand that she is acctually going to Norway in order to meet a man of dubious morale. Schechter has lived in several different places during her life, a restless soul, and she lost her husband five years ago. This terrible loss is just touched upon briefly, mentioned before the narrator moves on to the subject of pizza, and the lack of home deliveries thereof in the U.K., as if the narrator as well as Schetcher prefer not to think of the lost love.

After that, the crazy plot starts to unravel and it’s just a matter of leaning back and enjoying the ride. Expect the unexpected.

I was astounded by the great flow of the text as I read this book, the simplicity of Adams’ story-telling is truly captivating. Adams skillfully depicts the inner thoughts and musings of the different characters’ with humour and clarity, without stalling the action too much, at the same time as he anchors the characters and the plot to their surroundings. Tedious, normal people mingle with gods and supernatural beings, the real places are intertwined with the places that are not, myth becomes reality.