Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk on Patrol by Lee Goldberg (Monk #13)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great character development
Cons: Plot might slow down at one point for the character development
The Bottom Line: Strong mystery with
Great characterization
Make this a winner

Mr. Monk Helps Randy Disher

Since the TV show Monk ended a couple years back, that has left Lee Goldberg, the author of the novels based on the show, with some freedom to develop the characters and stories as he sees fit.  That’s really evident in Mr. Monk on Patrol, the thirteenth novel in the series, and the result it outstanding.

This book takes Monk out of his normal surroundings of San Francisco, where he is a consultant with the San Francisco police department.  Monk has a ton of phobias plus obsessive compulsive disorder.  As he would say, it’s a gift and a curse.  It makes daily life for him hard, but it allows him to notice things others wouldn’t, and those little things help him solve murders.  He has an assistant in Natalie, who basically runs interference between him and the rest of the world.

In the series finale of the show, Randy Disher moved to Summit, New Jerseyto become their chief of police and pursue a romance with Sharona.  Well, Randy has uncovered corruption in Summit, and now he’s found himself chief of police and acting mayor.  He needs help, and he turns to the one person he knows will be able to help – Monk.

When Monk and Natalie arrive in Summit, the city is being hit by a string of burglaries, and Randy asks Monk to look into them.  They’ve just been on the job one day when the stakes are raised.  Will Monk find the criminal or is he too distracted by a specific shop in town?

These books usually have a big case plus several smaller ones that Monk solves along the way, and this one is no exception.  That helps keep the action moving forward quickly, and I always had a hard time putting the book down.  At one point, the plot took a back seat to the characters, but that was a feature of the series as well.  Like the show, it’s never for long and it’s always entertaining.

And, honestly, what I loved most about this book was the characters.  Over the last few books, we’ve seen little changes in Monk.  Yes, he’s still basically the same, but he’s making some small improvements.  Actually, I felt he took a big step here, and I loved it.  It was great to see Randy and Sharona again, and I love what’s going on with their characters.

But the big character arc over the last few books has been Natalie.  This book pays off what Lee Goldberg has been doing with her character, and I love it.  It feels natural and real, so it is very rewarding.  I’m not sure if this is the end of an arc or not, but if it isn’t, I’m anxious to see where Natalie goes from here.

Speaking of going from here, the book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.  Don’t worry, the main plot of the book is resolved, but it’s something in Monk’s life.  The last sentence actually has ellipses on it, so you can just picture the fade to black on a TV screen.  Since I was already going to buy the next book, I don’t mind that bit of a tease in the slightest.

Just in case you were wondering, yes this book still has plenty of the humor from the series.  I laughed multiple times while reading it.  And Monk doesn’t get all the laughs, either.  Some of the other characters have great one-liners.

So if you are missing the TV show Monk, be sure to check out these novels.  And if you are up to date, you’ll find that Mr. Monk on Patrol is a great next step for everyone and a fun read.

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

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