Mr. Monk is Miserable
by Lee Goldberg
Review by Don Metzler
NAL Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451225153
Date: 02 December 2008 List Price $21.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
"Don't panic," Mr. Monk said.In a Paris theme restaurant where diners are served in complete darkness by blind waiters and waitresses, who but Adrian Monk would sense the presence of a stealthy killer in the room? And who but Monk would have the odd misfortune of being seated directly next to the intended victim?
Likewise, on a guided tourist excursion in the catacombs beneath the city, amongst the skulls and femurs of 17th century burials, who but Mr. Monk would realize at a glance that one skull among the many thousands is out of place? For this skull is less than twelve months old.
Monk is back. The obsessive-compulsive detective, scourge of the criminal element of San Francisco, and scourge of the unclean and disorganized everywhere, is back on the case, this time in Paris, France.
Following on the heels of their adventures in Germany, Mr. Monk's long-suffering assistant Natalie Teeger has coerced him into a brief vacation in Paris, before they must return to San Francisco. But, as Natalie herself would later admit, she should know better. When in the company of Adrian Monk, there can be no such thing as a vacation. Murders follow Monk as surely as night follows the day.
To begin with, on the flight from Germany to France, a passenger collapses and dies in the aisle of the jetliner. Victim of some unknown and virulent disease? Not so, says Mr. Monk. He immediately goes to work deducing the cause of death, and even names the murderer.
When they land in Paris, Monk at once ingratiates himself with a local police inspector, and offers his services as an investigator. Natalie is furious. This is supposed to be a vacation, something she has not experienced in a long, long while. She has no intention of spending her time in Paris following Monk about, supplying him with disinfectant wipes, while he solves crimes for the Paris police. That's something she could do just as well back in San Francisco. She drags Monk off to show him the tourist sites, beginning with the catacombs. And that is where, predictably, he discovers the anomalous set of bones.
Natalie foolishly believes she can shrug it off – surely the Paris police can sort this one out on their own. But when a young woman is murdered at the very table where she and Monk are having their dinner, it's finally too much. Mr. Monk cannot help but get involved in the investigation, and once again Natalie has been denied a true vacation.
The investigation leads them back into the catacombs below Paris, into the world of the Freegans, a counterculture movement who keep to the darkness, living off the scraps and cast-offs of the decadent, above-ground society in which most of the rest of us reside. While pursuing the murderer, Monk and Natalie discover a completely separate world that thrives in the miles of underground passages below the City of Light.
Lee Goldberg has scored another hit with Mr. Monk is Miserable. The characters of Adrian Monk, Natalie Teeger, Captain Stottlemeyer and Randy Disher are already indelibly etched in our minds, and in Mr. Monk is Miserable this cast continues to entertain. The characters who are unique to this book, such as the Parisian investigators and the quirky leaders of the Freegan movement, are an equal delight. The mystery that lies at the heart of the sometimes episodic story will, as always, keep readers guessing until the very end of the book. And last but not least, the title pun brings a smile.
Another thumbs up for Mr. Monk.