Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg

October 5, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): Monk’s house is being fumigated, and he has nowhere to go. Fortunately, his assistant Natalie and her daughter are kind enough to welcome him into their home. Unfortunately, their home is not quite up to Monk’s standards of cleanliness and order.

But while Monk attempts to arrange his surroundings just so, something else needs to be put straight. The death of a dog at the local firehouse-on the same night as a fatal house fire-has led Monk into a puzzling mystery. And much to his horror, he’s going to have to dig through a lot of dirt to find the answer.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • I loved that the story was told through Natalie’s eyes. She’s my favorite character (I like her slightly more than Monk himself) and it was fun to get her perspective on everything instead of Monk’s (like in the television episodes).
  • This felt like a typical “Monk” case. Though it would have worked out to more than the usual 42 minutes, I could easily envision it as a teleplay for a lengthier episode.
  • The author used many of Monk’s catchphrases in this book, including “You’ll thank me later”, “He’s the guy”, and “Here’s what happened.”
  • The mystery itself was interesting. Like Natalie and Monk, I knew Mr. Breen was the killer, but I didn’t know how he did it. The answer seemed plausible enough within the “Monk-verse”, so I was on board with it.
  • This was a very short, quick read that held my attention throughout.

Disliked:

  • While I thought Natalie’s voice was accurate for most of the novel, I absolutely could not STAND the way Goldberg sleazified her. Where did the sudden obsession with breast size come from??? How about all the comments about what a beefcake Firefighter Joe was? I’m just thankful Goldberg didn’t reveal that there were slinky nurse uniforms in her closet or something. Yikes. I probably could have tolerated one mention of breast size, but there’s no way in hell the Natalie Teeger of the TV show would fret over it so many times. And sure, I can understand that she wants to have a private life and enjoy some dates with good-looking men. But again, the Natalie we know and love from TV would NOT act like a high school girl drooling over the varsity football captain. Ugh.
  • I didn’t think Goldberg did enough with the Monk-at-Natalie’s-house scenario. Yes, there were the expected nuisances precipitated by his constant cleaning, but I was hoping for either more conflict or more closeness. Either have the characters arguing more or show them developing new appreciation for each other. There were plenty of scenes involving the two being under the same roof, but nothing much came of any of them.

Rating:

Although I dearly love the Monk TV series, I never bothered reading the tie-in books until now. The first installment mostly exceeded my expectations and I was pleased enough with the entertainment value to purchase the second installment already. I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

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