Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk Gets Even by Lee Goldberg (Monk #15)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great moments with the characters amid two very good mysteries
Cons: None for fans
Bottom Line:
Dale the Whale is back
Competing with accidents
For Monk's attention

Mr. Monk and the End of an Era

The fifteenth tie in novel to the TV show Monk represents a second ending for the detective.  No, the books aren’t coming to an end, but this is author Lee Goldberg’s last one, and he’s written all of them so far.  He goes out with a bang in Mr. Monk Gets Even.

To fully appreciate this book, you need a working basis of the TV show and to read at least the last 3 or 4 books in the series.  Monk, being the obsessive compulsive person he is, would recommend watching all the episodes and reading all the books in order, and I certainly won’t argue with that.  There are quite a few references to past events here, so it will help to have some context for them.

The very minimum you need to know?  Monk is a phobic, obsessive compulsive detective who is brilliant because those little things that drive him to distraction are also the little clues that help him solve cases.

This books opens six months after the last one ended, which means it’s been six months since Natalie, Monk’s former assistant, moved to Summit, New Jersey, and began her new life as a police officer. However, she is finding she misses her life in San Francisco and the excitement that Monk brought to it.  The biggest case she’s had involves stolen laundry detergent.

Meanwhile, Natalie’s daughter Julie has been working as Monk’s new assistant until he can find someone permanent.  But he’s got two cases to distract him right now.  First, there’s a series of accidents that Monk identifies as murder.  Who is the common connection?  Even more worrisome, Monk’s old nemesis Dale the Whale is out of prison to have an operation.  Might this be part of a larger plan to escape?

Both mysteries weave in and out of the story, and both kept me entertained.  While I can often guess where Mr. Goldberg is going with his plots, both had me baffled here.  Yet the solutions were certainly logical in the end.

But the real reason fans will want to read this book are the characters.  These books have always expanded on their relationships from the TV show, but since the series ended, we’ve begun to see some remarkable growth in them.  The last few books especially have started some arcs, and Mr. Goldberg brings them to a wonderful conclusion here.  I love how he left them.  That not only includes the main characters from the TV series but also some minor ones and even a few he’s invented.  I read the last few chapters with a smile on my face.

Of course, I was often smiling as I read the book since much of the humor from the series is still here.  If I wasn’t smiling, I was laughing out loud because things were that funny.

The series of Monk novels will continue with a new author (and former producer of the show) taking over.  And I’m planning to give them a read as well.  But wherever the characters go from here, Mr. Monk Gets Even is a great farewell from Lee Goldberg.

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

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