For fans of the television series "Monk," the books by Lee Goldberg have been a kind of lifesaver, helping to wean those who can't get enough of the obsessive-compulsive clean freak detective and are still in mourning over the end of the show.
And although Goldberg makes it clear in the preface that this, book No. 15, is it, one can't help but hope he might change his mind.
In the meantime, it's refreshing to read "Mr. Monk Gets Even," written from Natalie Teeger's perspective as she's gone on to become a police officer with card-carrying privileges and has a life without being by the side of Monk.
She clearly misses the adventure and the surprises that came with working with a troubled but brilliant mind.
Her daughter Julie has taken over the job of assisting Mr. Monk and doesn't worry nearly as much about him.
Meanwhile, Monk's consulting work puts her in danger as he investigates what seems like an unrelated string of murders.
Some "spiritual" progress has been made in both Monk and his brother's lives. Monk has a girlfriend, the owner of a shop where petrified dung products are sold. And Ambrose, the brother, is getting married and is actually taking a honeymoon away from the house he hasn't left in years. (They are going to the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho, for those who are fans of Don Aslett.)
It's a funny, readable book that retains the flavor of the TV series and stays true to the characters despite them moving on.
It's clever and logical and nicely paced.
The tidbits of trivia are fascinating, such as when Monk describes the "Flatulence Armageddon" that wiped out the dinosaurs. Also, the Monk's ability to take the most minuscule of clues and read them is intriguing, such as whether the drowning victim still had her contact lenses in or why there's a piece of tan bark in the pool. Goldberg is a genius at this.
Despite being about solving homicides and crime, this book is clean and doesn't contain anything offensive.
Without giving away the end, suffice it to say it's not one that the reader sees coming from the start.
And the journey to the end is a ride.
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