The husband of Monk's former assistant, Sharona, has been arrested for murder. Now back in San Francisco, she's ready to reclaim her place in Monk's life-much to the chagrin of his current assistant, Natalie. While Monk tries to maintain a delicate balance between the two women, he discovers a few unsettling snags in the case against Sharona's husband, and may be up against a killer who not only understands him, but is one step ahead.
Based on the USA Network show Monk, Goldberg's fourth Adrian Monk novel, the first in hardcover (after Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu), fails to master the many challenges that television adaptations face. The books share the show's sparseness of plot, without the charm of Tony Shalhoub's Emmy-winning portrayal of the obsessive-compulsive genius sleuth. Goldberg's wrinkle this time is to partner Monk's first assistant, Sharona Fleming, whose husband, Trevor, is in prison for murder, with her successor, Natalie Teeger, a widowed California soccer mom who narrates the tale. Natalie is anxious that Sharona might supplant her, a concern not allayed when Monk asks both women to work for him part-time. The puzzle centering on Trevor is fairly thin, and Goldberg throws in several shorter mysteries for Monk to solve almost instantly. While it might have been too much to expect a book from Monk's perspective, even within the confines of Natalie-as-narrator, more could have been done.