“Hy Conrad continues the series in fine style” (Bookworm Review of “Mr. Monk Helps Himself”

August 6, 2013

I am a big fan of the TV show “Monk” and enjoyed reading every single book from Lee Goldberg that continued the story of Monk. Thus I was sad to read that he was stepping down from the series as I was unsure if that meant it would be continuing. Luckily Hy Conrad was there to step in and as a writer for the series, I felt confident he would remain true to the spirit of Monk and provide another enjoyable outing.

I was thrilled by the development at the end of the previous book of Natalie deciding to go for her PI license that would enable her to partner with Monk instead of merely serving as his assistant. Of course, Monk is one of the people most resistant to change so there are going to be some issues! Her first challenge is when she believes there is a case worth pursuing (the apparent suicide of her self-help mentor Miranda Bigley) but Monk does not, preferring to aid the San Francisco Police Department in their case involving a clown, despite coulrophobia’s ranking in his list of 100 phobias. I loved seeing Natalie start calling him Adrian as a step toward demonstrating their new relationship and his reaction to that change. She puts up with a lot but she also seems to have a handle on how to get what she wants from Monk.

With a new author, there is always the chance of it being rocky. I personally couldn’t see much of a difference in their writing styles other than a renewed emphasis on Monk’s binder of phobias. I thought the two mysteries were not always well-balanced and I have mixed feelings about the portrayal of Monk’s girlfriend, Ellen Morse, owner of Poop, that have been lingering ever since she was introduced. I adore how her relationship with Natalie has developed but sometimes Monk is just so disrespectful to her. I have trouble understanding why she stays.

Since my parents and sister also eagerly consumed this book, I asked them to contribute a few thoughts.
Mom (Reader1809): Natalie comes across like a real person who I’d want to be friends with-I like her flaws and how she puts up with Monk.
Dad: Needed more murders
Sister: It was fine, whatever, leave me alone (she’s a teenager so yeah…)

Overall: Continues the series in fine style; I am eager to see what other stories Conrad has prepared for us.