Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk is a Mess by Lee Goldberg (Monk #14)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Two puzzling mysteries and wonderful character development
Cons: None for anyone who loves Monk.
The Bottom Line:
Two great mysteries
To show off character growth
Best novel to date

Mr. Monk May be a Mess, but This Book Isn't

While I do still miss watching Monk's antics on TV, the novels based on the series have been a nice way to revisit these great characters.  But as the novels have continued post TV series finale, the characters have grown even stronger.  The journey they've been on continues in Mr. Monk is a Mess, which I think is my favorite to date.

For those who missed this wonderful TV show, Adrian Monk is a consultant to the San Francisco police department who suffers from extreme phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder.  But those issues also help him notice the little details that help him restore order to the universe by solving crime.  Helping him deal with the rest of humanity is his assistant, Natalie Teeger.

Monk and Natalie are finally returning to San Francisco from their month in Summit, New Jersey.  Natalie is especially looking forward to spending the night in her own bed.  But when she walks in the door of her house, she realizes that someone has been living in it while she was gone.  But that's nothing compared to finding a dead woman in her bathtub.

The next morning, she gets a frantic phone call from Monk's brother Ambrose.  His assistant/girlfriend Yuki is missing.  Monk is thrilled that the tattooed biker chick is out of Ambrose's life, but Natalie insists they investigate.  What has happened to her?  And who is the dead woman in Natalie's bathtub?

Like all the books in the series, the main plot is interrupted every so often by a smaller case that Monk solves in a chapter or two.  Between those and the two bigger cases they are investigating, there is never a dull moment in this plot.  It takes a couple of unexpected twists before the climax.  I was so proud of myself for picking up on one of the clues Monk did until it led me to the wrong suspect.

But the real star here is the characters.  In the books since the series ended, author Lee Goldberg has been letting them grow in some interesting new ways that still feel very true to the characters established in the series.  That continues here for all of them, and it is a great thing to watch.  Since they are the main characters, Natalie and Monk get the most development, but the supporting characters from the TV series still get their moments.  It will please any fan of the show, especially someone who's been reading the books all along.

The show certainly had many comedic moments, and I found plenty more to laugh about here.  In fact, it amazes me that after so many TV episodes and novels (this is the fourteenth novel), Monk continues to surprise and amuse me, but he does.

Those who have avoided the novels have done so at their own detriment.  They are so much fun and continue the series in a great way.  Mr. Monk is a Mess could be enjoyed on its own, but to really get it, you need to read the rest of the book series first.

So go back and start from the beginning.  You'll thank me later.

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

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