Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Monk and the gang in one last adventure
Cons: Plot a little weak, it looks like the end from the franchise.
The Bottom Line:
And here’s what happened
One last mystery to solve
As Monk franchise ends
Mr. Monk Takes a Final Bow
By my count, Monk is going crazy right now with Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant. Why? This is the third ending for the characters (TV series, Lee Goldberg’s final book, and now the real final book). Plus, this is the nineteenth tie in novel to the TV show. Heck, since I didn’t start watching the show until season 2, this makes 11 and a half years that I’ve been a fan. For someone who loves evenness and order, all of these odd numbers are completely unacceptable.
And if you are scratching your head right now, then you’ve never meant Adrian Monk. He was the main character of the TV show Monk, which aired on the USA Network from 2002 until 2009. He is a brilliant detective who suffered from OCD and phobias too numerous to name (but he has a laminated list). The resulting episodes contained a wonderfully addicting mix of comedy and mystery with great character development. Along the way, a series of tie-in novels starring the characters were started, and this is the final book in that series.
Things are slow for Monk and Teeger, Consulting Detectives, and they have been for a few months. Worse yet, Captain Stottlemeyer’s new lieutenant is doing his best to under pay them when they are needed to consult on a case. However, when Monk and Natalie Teeger go to the funeral of a prominent judge, Monk immediately discovers he was murdered. Worse yet, Captain Stottlemeyer comes down with the exact same symptoms.
Meanwhile, Natalie goes behind Monk’s back and takes on a divorce case for a woman she finds staring at their sign in the parking lot. It appears to be a simple enough case; Natalie can knock it out on her own without Monk’s help. Until Natalie gets a shock and suddenly needs Monk’s help. Can they juggle this case while keeping Stottlemeyer alive?
I will say I felt the plot was a little weak in this one. I had a pretty good handle on what was happening before the end. However, that didn’t mean I enjoyed the book any less. With Monk, the joy was always in the journey, not the final destination. I read the book in one day because when I set the book down at one point, it started calling to me again and I just had to finish. The pages always fly by, and this book was no exception.
Part of what makes this book so great are the characters that fans have come to know and love. They are present here again, and it is easy to picture the actors delivering the lines as the events unfold. Since Hy Conrad (one of the writers on the show) took over the novels, he’s been working on some character arcs. Things ended where I thought they would, and I think fans who were disappointed with the final episode of the series will appreciate this ending so much more.
And, of course, there is the comedy. Even though we know all of Monk’s quirks, I still found some things to laugh at as I was reading (usually as my roommate walked into the room, it seemed). It might not be as fresh as it once was, but there were still some moments that caught me off guard that I really enjoyed.
But seriously, couldn’t they have put out one more book to give us 20 novels and reach 12 years for me as a fan? Why didn’t they consult with me? Of course, someone new might step forward and write more books, but for now it does appear this is the end of the franchise.
I really don’t recommend you jump in here if you are new to Monk. Whether you start with the show or the earlier novels is up to you, but you will enjoy your time spent with him. Longtime fans will find Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant bittersweet as we enjoy one more adventure with the characters we love while also saying goodbye.
Thank you, Mr. Monk. It’s been a wonderful ride.
Need to back up? Once you get started, you'll obsessive compulsively read the Monk novels in order.