Monday, March 24, 2008

Mr. Monk in Outer Space -- Lee Goldberg

I've never seen so much as a single scene from the Monk television series. So why do I enjoy Lee Goldberg's books about the character so much? Well, let's see. They're funny, they're well-written, they're carefully plotted, and they're poignant. They probably have other good qualities, too, but those should do for starters.

In this one, Monk is called on to solve a murder (or murders) connected with a convention of Earthers, that is, people passionately devoted to a canceled '70s TV series called Beyond Earth, to which, of course any resemblance of any other TV series, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Goldberg has a lot of fun with the Earthers (they don't like being called Earthies), but it's not mean-spirited fun, as we (and Monk) discover as the book goes along. In fact, it leads to Monk's having a breakthrough moment.

As usual, Natalie Teeger's narration is just the right vehicle for the story, and Natalie has a few insights about herself that parallel Monk's breakthrough. Ambrose plays a crucial role, and Monk's relationship with his brother makes a big advance.

You say you don't read tie-in novels? You should give the Monk books a try and find out what you've been missing.


Doc Quatermass said...


I haven't read any of the books but being a fan of Tony Shaloub I've followed the series since it's debut. The multiple Emmy's are well deserved. It's one of the better series on TV today (most of my TV time is spent on TCM, Encore Westerns and Retro Television Network). Check out USA Networks Pysch which is pretty decent and Burn Notice which is pretty durn good (great cast with the beautiful Gabrielle Anwar, lovely Sharon Gless, the always fun to watch Bruce Campbell, and enjoyable Jeffery Donovan. The short-lived Touching Evil, with Donovan was one of the better efforts of adapting a British drama to American TV.

Doc Quatermass

mybillcrider said...

Isn't Lee Goldberg's brother, Tod, doing the novelizations of BURN NOTICE?

Doc Quatermass said...

Looks that way:

Burn Notice: The Fix by Tod Goldberg (Paperback - Aug 5, 2008)

I've been out of touch with book news and about 20 years behind in what I want to read (too many magazines, esp. on classic film and classic sci fi/horror film are backed up, pulp reprints, old and new mystery, sci fi, horror as well as too many areas of interest in non-fiction but I'll have to add the Monk and Burn Notice books to my lists. As much as I like Max Allan Collins I dropped both CSI and CSI Miami shows and his novelizations of the series. Just read his historical mystery "The War of the Worlds Murder" with Orson Welles, Walter Gibson and John Houseman among other real life people, back in October.

mybillcrider said...

Not everyone likes the tie-ins, but I do enjoy the Monk novels. I'll give the Burn Notice ones a try, too.

Anonymous said...

I slipped my MONK-loving friend Susan Kulovsky a copy of one of the Goldberg novels, and she was pleasantly surprised, though a bit confused at first since she thought it was meant to be the novelization of episodes, ones she thought she had missed as a consquence.

I like PSYCH better than MONK, and BURN NOTICE better than PSYCH, but they're all amiable or better.

Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to track down some of Goldberg's stand-alones. Any suggestions?

mybillcrider said...

The Man with the Iron-On Badge, but it's probably impossible to find.

Lee Goldberg said...


Wow -- thank you so much for all the nice things you said about OUTER SPACE. You made my day!

And yes, my brother Tod is doing BURN NOTICE and my producing partner Bill Rabkin is writing the PSYCH novels.


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Ron D said...

I was a big fan of Tony Shaloub on Monk (also his Italian character, on the TV show "Wings"), and I decided to get his autograph when he was performing on Broadway. I decided to buy two of the Monk books (Mr. Monk Goes To The Firehouse & Mr. Monk And The Blue Flu) for him to sign. I also bought a second copy of the Firehouse book to read.

It was enjoyable spending a few more hours with the strange Mr. Monk. Lee Goldberg seems to have a knack for using the written word to imitate the actor's portrayal of the same character. A job well done. Just the same, Tony Shaloub made a classic TV character, and Lee Goldberg made a mediocre TV book. An imitation is never as good as the original.