Monk and the New Lieutenant by Hy Conrad (3 out of 5)
This may be the last Monk book. That saddens me. Hy Conrad is moving onto a new series of his own (good going, Hy). However, now the future of the Monk novels are in limbo! I haven’t been feeling the love with the Monk series so much since Monk and Natalie started their own private investigation agency. I’ve seen the end coming the past few books. This book, I didn’t have a clue until the end, but the characters seemed to be in some alternate reality. Natalie was committing faux pas all over the board; things she normally would not do. Monk does stuff all the time that no one else would dare do, so a few of the things he did were not a bit surprising, but his main ace in the hole had me going “Who is this guy?” . I was glad to see Randy Disher return to help with a case, because I missed his ineptness and goofy demeanor. I just felt disconnected from the book for most of it, including the side case that Natalie takes on, without telling Monk (we know how that ends, if you’re read previous books). Julie, Natalie’s daughter and a bigger and bigger part of the books the older she got, plays a minimally invasive role in this book, to my dismay. The new lieutenant is a major ass-bag, so glad to have someone to despise, along with the bad guys. Anyhow, onto the narrative, and throw a tarp on my complaints.
A prominent judge and friend of Leland Stottlemeyer’s passes away At the funeral service, Monk does his usual investigative once over and informs Natalie that the good judge was murdered, by poisoning. The service is halted, and within 24 hours, Leland is exhibiting signs of having been poisoned as well. Turns out whomever murdered the good judge is also trying to murder Leland. Natalie and Monk put the pieces together, along with the new lieutenant AJ, a major douche commander if there was one, and realize that it had to be someone who had a vendetta against the judge and Captain, likely due to a criminal case where they were both present. Leland is stuck on hospital duty, and after several near misses with Monk, AJ, and Natalie being shot at, Monk calls Randy Disher in Summit, NJ, and asks him to come home to help solve the case. On the side of all of this is Monk’s insistence that the new lieutenant is useless and that Randy and Sharona need to drop his new life and come back to his former job. The case has a few lurches, but nothing really clicks, until that ending. I don’t disagree with it; in fact, I agreed with the ending and the resolution of the case. The ending itself makes you think of what could have been vs what could still be. And whether that ending is an indicator of what’s next, if there is another installment, or if this is where it ends. If that is where it ends, with no appearance from Ambrose, I’m going to be really mad.
So, overall, not my favorite of the Monk titles, but still, entertaining to anyone who was a fan of the show.