Mr Monk Gets On Board by Hy Conrad (2 out of 5)


Another installment of the Monk series. I hadn’t checked on it in awhile, since late summer when I read the last one, so I was happy to see this one. I’ve been illing with the flu and this was helping me get through it the last couple of days. It’s light reading and not too hard on my aching head. If you’re not familiar with the Monk books or series, you might want to start from the start and acquaint yourself. This installment, overall, left me a bit waterlogged.

Monk and Natalie, as you may recall, have joined forces as their own private investigation firm. Natalie signs up for a business networking cruise called the B to Sea Cruise. She quickly finds it’s not quite what she thought, and she’s also a little miffed that Monk ends up boarding the cruise ship, despite his misgivings and multiple peccadilloes. Things go south real fast when Mariah, a friendly cruise director who may or may not be having an affair with the married captain of the cruise ship, ends up murdered and tossed overboard. Monk ends up rooming with an alcoholic plastic surgeon Darby, who you believe a good third of the way through, may have more of a bearing on the plot. A mysterious group of four women(who look oddly similar to each other, despite the fact that they are worlds apart in race and age) have part in an AA group on the ship, which Natalie is mistakenly thrust into (Monk is no help here, either, but you have to read to see what I mean). The captain and his wife are a bad trip gone through some wires. The first mate is the only one on the crew of the ship that you really have any sort of respect for (well, besides the poor murdered Mariah). I guess given the outcome this makes sense. Is my review all over the place? That’s how I felt reading the novel.

There are two other murders, including a man whom Natalie is interested in, and a side-story involving copies of rare artifacts being thefted and faked, that go along with this cast of characters above. You see Stottlemeyer and Devlin, but nowhere as much as I would have liked. There are details of the book that bothered me; namely that Natalie’s little crush on Malcolm seems to take her away from her commitment to solving the crime, as well as Monk’s safety when he gets a little too overzealous for his own good. Things get real serious real fast, and that’s the part of the book where things picked up for me. I also thought that she seemed to be letting her college-attending daughter Julie, who was such a huge part of the series over the years, really go, and you didn’t see so much of the attentive mother as you had before. That struck me as a little odd, that Natalie in past books, always considered her actions a little more before playing through with them, and in this book, she seems hellbent on getting a contract for her and Monk’s new business venture and not so worried about how her daughter is faring. Somewhat out of character, and that bugged me.

What else bugged me? All little things- Ellen and Monk’s relationship appears to be on the rocks by the end of the book. The dissolution of it and how it came about seemed out of character for how the books preceding it had set the romance in motion. There’s barely any mention of Randy Disher or Sharona, both instrumental parts of the Monk books in the past, even in passing. No mention is made of Ambrose, Monk’s brother, or his wife, who are instrumental in many of Monk’s adventures in books past.  Worse than any of that, any and all of the characters on the cruise ship seem to be so self-absorbed, it’s hard to give a rat’s tail about any of them. Of maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, since it’s a cruise for business professionals networking? When the end does roll its way around, it doesn’t go well. For either story. Worse yet, I pretty much knew the killer and how both plots would turn out before the end. And that’s the kiss of death for me giving any book a high rating. I just couldn’t embrace this new Natalie Teeger, a character that I admired on the show and in the novelizations. Monk, as always, amused and kept me laughing and shaking my head throughout the book. So I give it two stars for Monk. Natalie had me frustrated in this book, and the whole plot seemed to be loop de’ loop throughout. I read this while sick with the flu, and while it did, as always, keep me riveted, I was let down by this installment in the series. I hope the next one is back to its usual stellar story.

~ by generationgbooks on January 31, 2014.

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