Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu by Lee Goldberg (Monk #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny Moments in a great story with tender characters moments
Cons: The new characters not as developed
Bottom Line:
Monk back on the force
With detectives worse than him
Let the laughs begin

Mr. Monk Gets His Badge Back

When I finally started watching the TV show Monk, I instantly fell in love with the obsessive compulsive detective. His adventures dealing with the real world are as funny as the plots are puzzling and satisfying. Lee Goldberg has captured the characters and the spirit of the series expertly in this series of novels based on the TV series.  Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu is the third in this fun series of tie in novels.

After a year of negotiations, talks have broken down between the city of San Francisco and the police force. With no contract, the police officers have decided to stage a "blue flu" and call in sick to work until the city gives in to their demands.

With most everyone on strike, the mayor is desperate. He reinstates several former police detectives to help out in the crunch, including reinstating Adrian Monk and promoting him to Captain.

While Monk is thrilled to have his badge back, his staff of detectives leaves something to be desired. Between the anger management issues, the forgetfulness, and the conspiracy theories, they make Monk look almost normal.

Still, the city needs them. There is a serial killer at large who preys on women and takes their left shoe. Then a series of impromptu murders begin to take place all over the city. Is there a pattern? Can Monk lead his team of detectives to the solution? What will happen when the strike ends?

The third book in this tie-in series is just as wonderful as the first two. I fairly flew through the story to find out what would happen next. It helped that the book was an easy read. The story moved forward quickly and steadily with several great twists. I kept reading to find out just what would happen next. The ending is absolutely logical but also surprising.

Because most of the police department is on strike, we see very little of series regulars Stottlemeyer and Disher. When they are around, they are perfectly in character from the TV series. Monk and his assistant Natalie (who is also the narrator for the book) are also just as you would picture them from the series. It's easy to watch the actors in your mind while reading the book. Unfortunately, Monk's team of detectives can come across as stereotypes at times, but it's a minor complaint since they also provide some great laughs.

And there were plenty of other laugh out loud scenes throughout the book. We learned why Monk is afraid of milk (and he may have convinced me) and watch him deal with the disorder of modern art. His desire for order never gets old, and while I can sometimes predict his response, I never fail to laugh.

But it's not all fun and mysteries. The story slows down several times along the way to give us tender moments that show just how vulnerable all the main characters really are. These characters moments are truly touching and are worth the price of the book alone.

I can't get enough of Monk, be it on screen or in print. If you feel the same way, you'll love Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu.

And, as a note of trivia, elements of this book were used for the TV episode "Mr. Monk and the Badge" from season eight of the show.

Interested in reading more?  Since this is Monk, you'll have to read the Monk Novels in order.

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