Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: Mr. Monk on the Road by Lee Goldberg (Monk #11)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: The characters and their interactions
Cons: Weak mystery
Bottom Line:
Monk hits the road and
Entertains with characters
Over mystery

Mr. Monk Take a Road Trip

Mr. Monk on the Road may be the eleventh tie-in novel based on the popular TV show, but it represents a first because it is the first book set after the show's series finale.  Fortunately, Monk is still up to his obsessive compulsive fun.

Since he's finally solved Trudy's murder, Monk is almost content.  And he wants to share that with his brother Ambrose, so he hatches a scheme to kidnap him and take him on a road trip in a rented motorhome.  Ambrose is agoraphobic, but this way he can still experience some of the world even if it is through a window.  With Natalie along as the navigator, they set out to explore California.

But Monk being Monk, he can't go on vacation without a mystery or two.  Things start out simple enough when Monk explains the mystery behind the popular Mystery Spot on the central coast.  But can he deal with leaving a murder scene when Natalie insists they continue their trip?

The book keeps what the series finale established.  Disher isn't around anymore and a new character has been brought in to replace him.  This new character doesn't have a whole lot of time to be developed since most of the book takes place outside San Francisco, but I liked her.  Likewise, a character introduced in the finale puts in a cameo here, and I liked her scene.

But the focus of the book is Ambrose, Monk, Natalie, and their road trip.  I found traveling through my home state in the pages of this book very fun.  I knew most of the places where they stopped, but I found something different seeing them through the eyes of Ambrose.  It amazes me how author Lee Goldberg is able to create a personality for Ambrose that is distinct from Monk but close enough to have so many of the same quirks.  Monk and Natalie are still plenty of fun, and their characters are spot on from the TV show.

My disappointment with the book came from the mystery.  Monk was always a mystery show, although some episodes the mystery was almost irrelevant to the situation where Monk found himself.  Those were always disappointing episodes for me.  That's the case here since the mystery feels forced into the road trip.  Don't get me wrong, the entire thing does make sense, but it almost feels like an afterthought.  I'm not sure how you could construct a true road trip mystery that would satisfy me, but this wasn't it.

Just like the show, however, the characters were more than enough to keep me entertained from start to finish.  The pages flew by, and it was over all too soon.

Mr. Monk on the Road will appeal to fans of the show wanting more now that it is over.  While those who don't know the characters won't enjoy it as much, those familiar with the characters will love it.

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

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