Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk in Trouble by Lee Goldberg (Monk #9)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and plenty of laughs
Cons: Mystery a little light
Bottom Line:
Gold and the old west
Mr. Monk faces them both
Which means laughs for us

Mr. Monk Finds Trouble in a Tourist Town

For those like me mourning the loss of the television show Monk, there is a small bit of comfort.  The novels have proved to be popular enough that they are continuing for the time being.  And the ninth novel came out just as the series was ending.  Mr. Monk in Trouble finds our hero in the California gold country for an all new, funny case.

If you are new to the franchise, Adrian Monk is a former San Francisco homicide detective who was put on leave when his obsessive compulsive behavior and his phobias became too big a problem at work.  He and his assistant, Natalie, still do consulting work under the supervision of Monk's old partner, Captain Stottlemeyer.

And for fans of the show, do note that his book is set before the start of season eight.  A couple of references are now out of date as a result, but they are minor details only Monk would obsess over.

When Manny Feikema, a retired SFPD cop is murdered, Captain Stottlemeyer personally asks Monk to look into the case.  Manny had moved to the small town of Trouble.  While it had boomed during the gold rush, it was now mainly a tourist stop.  Manny was working as a night guard for the Gold Rush Museum, and that's where he was killed.

Monk has hardly arrived before he learns of an unsolved gold robbery from 50 years ago.  He's distracted by his case.  Natalie has her own distraction.  She's found the journal of Abigail Guthrie, assistant to a Mr. Artemis Monk.  This Mr. Monk was the town assessor and detective during the height of the gold rush.  And he behaves just like the modern Mr. Monk.  Could he be an ancestor?  And will the current Mr. Monk find the killer?  Or will he be too distracted by looking for the gold?

I've got to admit, I was a bit wary going into this book.  Would the old Artemis Monk stories be more a gimmick, or would they feel like an important part of the book.  I needn't have worried.  Author Lee Goldberg wove them into a story in a way that kept my interest and didn't slow the modern story down.

Taking Monk to a small town kept the way it used to be for tourists provided many opportunities for fresh laughs.  Plus through in the historic Mr. Monk and you've got a (pardon the pun) gold mine of jokes.  I often found myself laughing out loud or at least chuckling and smiling as I went through the book.

But it isn't all laughs.  Mr. Goldberg always does a great job with these characters, and he allows us several moments that are very touching and even enlightening about them.  They continue to be real people very recognizable to fans of the TV show.

Plus the new characters are interesting.  I wouldn't say they were around long enough to be fully developed, but they were developed enough to make me care about the outcome.

Frankly, the only weakness was the plot.  I figured out the big picture before Monk did, although I did need him to fill in many of the details for me.  That was sometimes an issue with the TV show as well.  And like the show, I was completely entertained while waiting to see if I was right or not.

I have enjoyed these books so much, I don't completely feel like I've lost Monk yet.  If you want more adventures with the obsessive compulsive detective, be sure to get Mr. Monk in Trouble.

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

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