Plot summary (from the publisher): Of all the things that make Adrian Monk uneasy, change ranks high on the list. So when Natalie completes her P.I. license—and technically becomes Monk’s boss—it’s not easy for him to accept. Nor can he accept Natalie attending a business seminar at sea without him, even if it means spending a week with her on a cruise ship.
Between choppy waters and obnoxious kids, Monk finds himself in a perfect storm of anxiety. Luckily, Mariah, the cruise director, is always able to smooth things over…until someone pulls the man overboard alarm, the ship drops anchor—and the crew fishes Mariah’s dead body out of the water.
Finding alcohol in Mariah’s system, the ship’s doctor declares her death an accident, but Monk isn’t convinced. He knows that Mariah and the captain were having an affair. Could someone have pushed her overboard?
When the captain hires Monk and Natalie to look into a mysterious rash of vandalism on board, Monk steers the investigation toward murder…
Warning: Spoilers below!
- I think out of all the books in the series (that I’ve read, I mean), this is the one that feels closest to the TV show in terms of characterization. Monk and Natalie in this book spoke and acted like the Monk and Natalie from the USA series, which greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the story. I know the previous author of the book series was also involved with the TV show, but honestly, he wrote, what, like three or four episodes? No disrespect intended, but that just cannot compare to someone who was in the writers room for eight years!
- The Natalie-as-alcoholic subplot was fantastic! I thought Monk and Natalie crashing the AA meeting the first time was hysterical, and I loved how Natalie kept getting disapproving looks from other attendees for the duration of the cruise. Ha! There’s always a danger that a running joke will wear out its welcome, but this one never did.
- Can Ellen be gone for good? Pretty please?! I never liked that character and thought her poop store crossed the line into the absurd (yes, even for the “Monk” universe). I don’t object to Monk moving on from Trudy, but it should at least be with someone plausible — and sorry, but poop store proprietor just doesn’t fit that bill.
- I liked how the author referred to several of Monk’s previous cases (from the TV show) in this book. It’s always fun for longtime fans to be able to recall random episodes like that and understand exactly what’s being alluded to.
- The final scene with Monk and Natalie not being able to resist taking a new case was wonderful. It captured the essence of those characters so well and just felt right. Plus, it reminded me a little bit of the end of the 100th episode of the TV series, with the two of them huddled over a newspaper in Monk’s kitchen trying to find another case to solve.
- When Natalie is reminiscing about her family reunions, she says something to the effect that they would have been better if she didn’t “run into a Teeger around every corner.” But of course the Teegers are Mitch’s family, not hers! Surely the author meant to write “Davenport” here.
- Maybe this was spelled out in the last book, but why did Natalie keep saying she was Monk’s boss? I thought they were supposed to be equal partners now? Plus, their agency is called “Monk and Teeger,” which seems to imply that if anyone has senior status, it’s him. I know this is just a minor detail, but the boss thing was mentioned on several occasions and threw me for a loop each time.
- I didn’t really care for the subplot involving the four professional women (including a lawyer and an ex-judge) trying to kill the plastic surgeon who was responsible for their friend’s death. Obviously they would have other means of legal recourse and wouldn’t have to stoop to attempted murder to mete out justice, right??
Mr. Monk Gets on Board was a fun, quick read that allowed me to spend time with some familiar characters. The main mystery was interesting, there was plenty of humor along the way, and the Natalie-Monk interaction was spot-on. I give this one 4 stars out of 5.