Saturday, September 28, 2019

REVIEW: Mr. Monk on the Couch (book) by Lee Goldberg, based on the TV series created by Andy Breckman

Mr. Monk on the Couch is Book 12 in the Mr. Monk mystery series based on the Monk TV series. I bought my copy at a used bookstore.


This book takes place a few months after the final episode of the Monk TV series and is written from Natalie's perspective. Monk investigates a series of murders and meets a group of crime scene cleaners, who he views as kindred spirits, while Natalie feels compelled to learn more about the life and death of a man both Monk and Stottlemeyer say died of natural causes.

The used bookstore I bought this from had a bunch of Mr. Monk mysteries, and, if I remember right, I pretty much grabbed this one at random. I didn't realize it was the twelfth book in the series, and the second book set after the series finale. I'm extremely behind on the series - I can't remember exactly when I stopped watching, but I know I definitely haven't seen any of the episodes in the last two or three seasons.

Although I googled a few characters I was unfamiliar with (Monk's new psychiatrist, Lieutenant Devlin), I didn't feel like the gap in my Monk viewing hurt my reading experience much. I do think it helped that I started re-watching Season 4 of the TV series soon after starting the book. It got me in the right mood and gave me a reminder of what everyone looked like and how they tended to behave. I had somehow forgotten how self-centered and casually awful Monk could be. Yeesh. I'm glad the TV series reminded me of that before I got to the bit in the book where Monk crashed a group therapy session because he couldn't handle his brother suddenly having a sex life.

Parts of this book were perfect. The scene with Monk, Stottlemeyer, and the badly parked police cars was great, and I loved Monk's interactions with the crime scene cleaners. I'm actually kind of surprised that crime scene cleaning never came up in the show at all. Maybe too gross or gory to have on-screen?

Unfortunately, the book's various mysteries didn't intrigue me much. I figured out part of what was going on with Monk's murders well before it was revealed. The way Devlin and Natalie set their part up was interesting, at least, but I had a tough time believing that Monk would quietly allow himself to be involved, even if only a little.

Natalie's investigation into Jack Griffin's death bored me and, after a certain point, struck me as being a terrible idea. Although I appreciated her insights into the way Monk's way of doing things differed from regular detective work, it didn't make her painstaking efforts to track down where Jack Griffin's old photo might have been taken any less tedious. Ambrose and his new girlfriend/assistant Yuki got a few mentions, as they helped Natalie with her research, and Natalie spent some time evaluating her life and the sort of future she might have if she wasn't Monk's assistant. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I don't know that it was worth the amount of pages it took up.

I'm enjoying getting back into the TV series and will probably continue working my way through the seasons, assuming it stays on Amazon Prime long enough. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to read more books from this series. It did feel, at times, like reading an episode of the show, so it had that going for it.

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