MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP comes out on July 7 but the reviews are already starting to come in. Bill Crider enjoyed this one as much as the previous books, or so he says on his blog today. He says, in part:
Lee Goldberg's books about Monk never let me down. They're always good for a some smiles and laughs, but that's the least of it. I've talked before about the themes of loyalty and friendship in books by other writers, and Robert B. Parker couldn't fill up ten pages without writing about them. People take the themes seriously in other books because, well, the books are serious. Goldberg has a lighter touch, but if you don't think those themes are treated just as seriously in his work, then you should read Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop.
Thank you so much, Bill. I'm flattered. I believe there's one thing that stops the MONK episodes and the books from becoming a slapstick cartoon, that prevents his character from becoming Maxwell Smart or Inspector Clouseau. It's this: amidst all the comedic situations that arise from his OCD, there's always something emotionally true about the stories…something that reveals Monk's essential sadness and grounds the character in reality. Maybe not our reality, but a reality just the same.
The hardest thing for me with the books isn't the mystery or the comedy…it's coming up with that emotional center, the heart-felt conflict that gives some shading to the broad humor. I always try to find something in the story that will put Monk and Natalie's relationship to the test, that will reveal something about who they are, and that will bring them closer together (or give them a deeper understanding of one another). I don't consciously think of a theme, but one seems to reveal itself to me along the way…and then I try not to belabor it or pay attention to it…I prefer to let it emerge on its own as a strand within scenes or in lines of dialogue.
I'm glad that it comes across.