by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we not only have a review of the latest Monk book by Lee Goldberg, but we had the chance to ask Lee a little behind the scenes info on how he wrote Mr. Monk On The Couch. After the review, there are details on how to enter for a chance to win a copy of Mr. Monk On The Couch.
Lorie: How long does it usually take you to write a Monk book?
Lee: Three to four months.
Lorie: Does the publisher or TV studio give you a general plot or do you pitch ideas to them?
Lee: Neither. I usually give them, the studio, and Monk creator Andy Breckman a punchy one-pager, the equivalent of book jacket copy, and they give me the green light a few days later. They’ve yet to turn down a single story or even to suggest any changes. At this point, I think they trust my instincts.
Lorie: What sort of research did you have to do for Monk On The Couch?
Lee: I researched old binoculars, the effects of cancer on muscle tissue, cancer treatments in Mexico that are illegal in the U.S., sport fishing, poisons, apricot pits, San Francisco geography, crime scene cleaning techniques, and all sorts of odds-and-ends. It’s part of the fun of writing a Monk book.
Lorie: This one was a bit different, focusing more on Natalie—why did you decide to do this and what do you feel are the benefits?
Lee: My feeling is that characters become stale if they don’t grow and that readers will become as bored with them as the author is. Natalie is a smart woman and I didn’t think she could stick with Monk, and keep investigating murders, if she didn’t find it fascinating herself. And I doubted she could do it for so long without picking up some skills along the way. It’s an arc I have been developing with her since Mr. Monk and The Dirty Cop and that pays off in a big way in Mr. Monk On Patrol, which comes out in January. She’s not the only character who is changing…I’ve also been developing an arc with Ambrose since Mr. Monk In Outer Space that takes a big step forward (so to speak) in Mr. Monk On The Couch.
Lorie: Anything else you want to share specifically about this book?
Lee: I’ve been liberated, in a sense, by the finale of the Monk TV series, which really shook things up for the characters. I have built on that over the last few books, paying off some of the arcs that began early the novel series. Like the book Mr. Monk On The Road, the book that preceded this one, Couch is a story about change. The characters and their relationships are evolving in substantial ways that continue in the books to come.
Mr. Monk On The Couch
Mr. Monk On The Couch is the second book to be released after the series finale of the Monk TV show (check out our review of the first one, Mr. Monk On The Road & an in depth interview with Lee). This quirky OCD detective is just as wonderful on the page as in the show, and with Lee Goldberg having written for the show as well, he has the characters and feel down perfectly.
In this book the characters continue to grow and change, especially Natalie and Monk’s brother Ambrose. Three strangers without any apparent connection die—a security guard, a struggling student, and a beautiful woman. The police are satisfied that the guard died of natural causes however, Natalie decides she wants to test her detective skills without Monk’s help so she becomes determined to find out who this man was and what happened to him. She enlists the help of Ambrose and his new lady friend.
Monk is somewhat distracted in this book because he meets a crime scene cleaner who is a big fan of Monk’s. Monk is absolutely fascinated by this intense type of cleaning and begs to help with the clean up after the next death. When the next two murders come along, Monk is more focused on the cleaning than in finding the killer. He also tries to set Natalie up with the cleaner.
In the end, Natalie and Monk both have a hand in solving this one and everyone is surprised when Monk discovers there is indeed a connection between the three and what that unusual connection is.
Monk books are always wonderful fun and this one is no exception. There just isn’t anyone else like Monk and I’m happy to see his story continue even though the show is gone. And no one else could capture these characters and bring them to life on the page the way Lee Goldberg does!
To enter for a chance to win a copy of Mr. Monk On The Couch, simply email KRL at email@example.com with the subject line “Couch”, or comment on this article. U.S. entries only please. A winner will be chosen next Saturday, August 6, 2011.