Mr. Monk Goes to Germany
by Lee Goldberg
Review by Don Metzler
NAL Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451220998
Date: 01 July 2008 List Price $21.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Will Adrian Monk finally run to ground the illusive six-fingered assassin, the man who several years earlier ordered the killing of his wife, Trudy? The answer lies half a world away, in Europe. On this journey of discovery, the reader is in for a series of hilarious misadventures.
When Mr. Monk's therapist, Dr. Kroger, leaves San Francisco to attend an international conference in Germany, Monk is devastated. Kroger has been treating Monk thrice-weekly for the last several years, helping the troubled detective gradually come to grips with the myriad of phobias and paranoia associated with his obsessive-compulsive disorder. On hearing the news of his therapist's departure, all of the progress Monk had been making during his sessions with Kroger crumbles away in a matter of hours. Monk spends an entire night locked in his apartment with a can of Lysol in each hand to ward off the attacking legion of germs. Then he forgets how to swallow. Most traumatic of all, Monk loses count of his blinking. It becomes clear that even one week without the good doctor close at hand will be unbearable.
There seems to be only one logical solution: Monk decides to follow Dr. Kroger to Germany. Fortified with a healthy dose of Dioxynl, the experimental drug that helps him cope with his fear of flying, and accompanied by his ever faithful personal assistant Natalie Teeger, Monk sets off for Europe.
Dr. Kroger's conference is being held in the picturesque, medieval village of Lohr, which lies at the edge of a dense forest, the setting that inspired "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", and other tales of the Brothers Grimm. But once his dose of Dioxynl has worn off, the scenery and history fail to make an impression on Monk. Instead he finds new challenges, such as the horror of having to try to walk on the uneven cobblestone streets.
But very soon Monk finds something other than cobblestones to occupy his attention. While touring the village with Natalie, Monk suddenly takes off at a dead run, in pursuit of someone he saw in the crowd. He gives up the chase only when he realizes he has lost his quarry. A breathless Natalie finally catches up to Monk and asks, "Who did you see? Who were you running after?" Monk replies, "The man with six fingers... the man who murdered my wife."
Even in a foreign country, Monk manages to land himself and Natalie smack in the middle of a murder investigation.
Lee Goldberg has presented us with yet another in his series of lighthearted novels featuring the obsessive-compulsive detective, Adrian Monk. And he has hit the mark again, both for excellence in writing and in crafting a fast-moving, highly readable book.
The Monk novels tend to be episodic: there are always lots of fun little stories intertwined with the big story. The first half of Mr. Monk Goes to Germany is so loaded with these "little" stories, that the reader will find himself nearly halfway through the book before learning what the main plot line is to be. But the reason one reads the Monk books is for the humor and the wonderful interplay of the characters, and so any delay in getting on with the story is tolerated. Besides, the little stories are engaging, such as that of the one-legged man who Monk is convinced there is a cannibal, lurking in ambush, awaiting his chance to pounce on the helpless detective and devour him.
Fans of the previous entries in the Monk chronicles will enjoy Mr. Monk Goes to Germany. Newcomers to the series may require a few chapters to adjust to this outlandish character and the way in which he interacts (or fails to interact) with his world. But once past that initial orientation, the reader may find himself going back to hunt for the earlier volumes.