Behind the Music: Mr. Monk On Patrol

MR_MONK_ON_PATROL (2)Mr. Monk on Patrolmy 13th original Monk novelis out today in bookstores everywhere…and it's very much a story about change

 Adrian Monk, the obsessive-compulsive detective, and his assistant Natalie Teeger travel to New Jersey to help out former SFPD detective Randy Disher, who is now Chief of Police of Summit and living with Sharona Fleming, Monk's previous assistant.  But the story is about much more than that…or the reunion with beloved characters…or the complex murders that Monk eventually solves.

I have always had a lot of  fun writing the Monk books, but most of the time, I was constrained by having to stick to the continuity of the TV series (which I also occasionally wrote for). That changed with the finale of the TV show, which really shook things up and liberated me  to let the characters evolve in new and exciting ways…and to even introduce a few new, regular characters. It also freed me to pay off some of the character arcs that began early the novel series, which started back in 2006 with Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse (which I adapted with William Rabkin into the episode "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing")

I believe that characters in a series become stale if they don’t grow and that readers, and the author, will become bored with them. At the same time, you want to remain true to what makes the characters, the relationships, and the "franchise" so special. 

It's a delicate balance. And here's how I've tried to maintain it.

The Monk books are narrated by Natalie. I chose that approach because I think it humanizes Monk. It gives us a necessary distance. Natalie’s eyes become the replacement for the camera lens that gave us our point of view on the TV version of Adrian Monk. Also, a little Monk goes a long way. You can overdo the joke and all the obsessive/compulsive stuff. By telling the stories from Natalie’s point of view, we aren’t with him all the time. We get some space, a breather from his phobias and ticks, and I think that’s important. 

But there's a side benefit. It’s allowed me to add an emotional resonance to the story-lines that goes beyond just Monk’s eccentricities and the solving of puzzling mysteries. The underlying theme of the books (and yes, there's always one) are often reflected in whatever is happening in Natalie’s life. Her personal story frames the way in which she perceives the mystery and reacts to Monk, so it’s all of a piece. It’s allowed me to make her a deeper, more interesting, and more realistic character. By doing that, I make Monk more dimensional as well, and I can ground the story in what I like to think of as “a necessary reality.”

Without that reality, Monk would just be a caricature and cartoon character. Natalie humanizes Monk and makes the world that the two of them live in believable to the reader. Through her, we are able to invest emotionally in the story. Without that crucial element, I believe the books would have failed.

Since we are in Natalie's head, we get to know her. And the more time you spend with someone, the deeper your relationship should become. So that's what I've tried to do with the reader's relationship with her. With that depth should come growth.
So, as your relationship with her grew and evolved, so did hers with Adrian Monk. I felt if I did it that way, the changes in their characters and the evolution in their relationship would all feel natural and inevitable. 

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've been developing with her since Mr. Monk and The Dirty Copthe eighth book in the series, and that pays off in a big way now in Mr. Monk On Patrol.  
The relationship between Monk and Natalie changes dramatically in this book…and yet I believe it's a natural extension of events in both the TV series and the last few books. This change has major consequences that impact all of the other characters in their world and that carries over directly into the next book in the series, Mr. Monk is a Mess, coming in July 2012, and that leads into the finale of the book series. 
Well, at least my involvement in it. I decided while writing Mr. Monk on Patrol that I was going to leave the series at the end of my current contract. My good friend Andy Breckman, the creator of Monk, and my publishers have kindly allowed me to write a finale, one that leaves the door open should they decide to continue the book series someday with another writer. 

I hope you enjoy Mr. Monk on Patrol. I certainly had a great time writing it!   


21 thoughts on “Behind the Music: Mr. Monk On Patrol”

  1. I wonder….does this mean that “Mr. Monk is a Mess” is the last book, or that the one after it will be the last one…

  2. I just went to and they have the Kindle version available for “pre-order” with a release date of… May 2012! Huh?! Also, when I searched for “lee goldberg monk,” I got in my results a couple of obviously unauthorized Monk books by a different writer. I can’t believe Amazon hasn’t taken this fan fic down yet (I saw the comments you’d left). Based on the Kindle ranking, people are buying them (and leaving one star reviews).

  3. I just finished reading it. It was another very enjoyable few hours with Mr Monk and the gang. I liked seeing the change in all the characters, Sharona and Randy included. I think giving Ellen her interesting job was terrific, and watching Monk deal with that was great. I thought the actual mysteries were negligible, but I read the books more for how Monk interacts with Natalie, the other characters, and the asymmetric, non-hygenic, messy world he inhabits, trying to bring order out of chaos. And I have 2 more books to look forward to! Thanks!

  4. Hi Mr. Goldberg, I first want to say I love your series and what you have done with the characters from the show. I just wanted to put this out there to you and any of your readers: What is the possibility of a “Monk” TV movie in a few years (Just like all the other detective shows have done) and that said hypothetical special would stick with the continuity of the the book? Again, I don’t want to start any rumors, but since these books are done with Mr. Breckman’s involvement, it’s a thought…

  5. hi from maine. 18 below zero! the Monk series warms my inners!!!!! please continue until i’m a ripe old age of 90. p.s. why is Mr. Monks shsirt showing an odd colored button???? Sincerely Mainiac

  6. Hi from Maine. 18 below zero but the Monk series warms my inners. Please continue the series until I’m at least at the ripe old age of 90. p.s. Why or why on the cover of Mr. Monk on Patrol does Mr. Monk have an odd colored button on his shirt??? I salute you and your crew. God Bless!

  7. I love Monk series and the last one is just great! I just finished it and can not wait for summer and the next one! Love it, love it, love it!!!! Kasia


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