Great first installment! I wasn’t sure how the series of tie-ins would survive an author switch, but I think Hy Conrad did an outstanding job of both bringing the flavor of the original show while continuing on with the character advancement and deepening started by Lee Goldberg. (Well, Hy was there from the beginning, writing some of my favorite episodes,so of course it reads like authentic Monk.)
Without giving too many spoilers about the mystery (which I thought was well-plotted and sufficiently twisty), Natalie is back working with Monk–although not just passing wipes, but now working toward a partnership–as soon as she can pass her PI exam. Those pesky murders keep getting in her way. Natalie continues to grow in competence, but not without some natural self doubt–and facing the doubts of others who don’t yet recognize her skill or trust her instincts.
But it’s not all about Natalie, either. Monk was well-represented, facing changes of his own–and fans know how he loves change. Sometimes it can be hard to bring a character like Monk alive when you’re writing first person in someone else’s head, but I thought Hy did an admirable job doing just that.
I wish him many more! (Well, a bit self-serving, since I’d love to read many more.