Shrink-Wrapped

I’m worried about Natalie. Maybe the job of taking care of Monk, the obsessive-compulsive detective, is getting to be too much for her. On call 24/7, wipes at the ready and always prepared to talk her boss down from the ledge of his mania for order, whether he’s trying to get a street full of parked cars equally spaced, or, as in the latest edition of his adventures, putting the Berlin Wall back together, bit by rubbley bit.

Mr. Monk and Natalie Schaefer from Lee Goldberg's book

Natalie's gonna need a shrink someday, too.

In “Mr. Monk Goes to Germany,” the sixth book based on the USA Network show, Monk’s thrown into a panic when his psychologist takes the week off to attend a conference Germany. So, hopped up on Dioxynl, an experiment drug that suppresses his OCD and turns him into Goodtime Charlie, Monk takes to the skies, with Natalie at his beck and call. What he finds there, in addition to one very surprised and appalled doctor, is a confrontation with a six-fingered man who may be responsible for his wife’s death.

Those who follow Lee Goldberg’s life on his blog know that he spent time in Germany filming a TV show, so it’s natural he’d set his next Monk book there. And he uses his experiences well, weaving in the details you’d pick up if you were a tourist. It’s those little touches that give the story flavor, such as the description of an inn that was built in the 1400s, or describing the free magazines, including Playboy, that can be picked up at German airports.

As for the mystery, it is competently set up and sprung, but, really, the fun lies more in watching Monk at work, baffling his police partners and reacting to the chaos around him, whether its attempting to navigate the trails in the German forest or visiting an unusual resort for outcasts.

Which leads me back to Natalie. Maybe it was the travel. Maybe it was seeing Monk on the plane, high on Dioxynl, turning into a combination of a frat boy and lounge lizard, being asked to join the Mile High Club. But there were a couple of times here where she loses control on his behalf. Maybe she should see a shrink. I’m sure Monk could recommend a good one.

How did I get this book?: Review copy sent by author.

All categories are ranked 1-15 except for bonus, which is 1-10.

Score: 80

Genre: 13 Traditional mystery, hampered only by the reader’s belief that Monk’s quest to find his wife’s killer isn’t going to happen here.
Realism: 14
Character: 14 Told from Natalie’s point of view, you get to appreciate Monk’s weird, but logical (from his POV) behavior.
Setting: 14 A new country to visit is a good way to freshen a series.
Theme: 11
Style: 11 Plain prose that gets the job done, without any missteps.
Bonus: 3

What do these numbers mean?
Other links to “Mr. Monk Goes to Germany.”