****spoilers throughout my review*****
I liked it quite a lot. There were no great wonderful moments or lessons for me, but it had a good pace, and the story kept me glued to the TV set. It was a nice change of pace, an unusual "Monk." It was refreshing that Monk could work a case without his assistant, Natalie . Interesting the way it didn't begin as a real murder case -- the only murder was committed by the "victim" towards the end of the hour.
To repeat, I liked it a lot. Here, though, are three negative or clarifying thoughts, things the producers could have improved on:
(1) as someone else said, it was getting annoying the way Monk kept missing the taxi driver by seconds.
(2) I thought it was a mistake to have two characters look alike: one of the three original grifters in the "drug deal gone wrong" restaurant con looked very similar to Gully, the grifter who conned with the drinks and card tricks in the tavern. Both of them had leather jackets, stocky build, scruffy beard and hair, etc. I guess I wasn't paying close attention, so at first I thought they were the same character.
(3) probably my fault, but I got confused initially about how Stottlemeyer solved the case on his own with the napkins. His napkin realization came about while he was drinking at the bar in the TAVERN. At first I thought he spotted one of the two napkins in the tavern, but the tavern had nothing to do with it. After Monk told him that the coin dealer was a murderer, Stott hung up on Monk and said it could all wait till the morning. Then as Stott went to blow his nose on one of the napkins (which he had kept in his coat pockets), he realized that the coin dealer, who said he had never been to the restaurant, had given Stott the same kind of napkin that Stott had picked up in the restaurant.