Authors: Lee Goldberg
From Publishers Weekly
The sixth novel (after 2007's Mr. Monk in Outer Space) based on the popular Monk TV series created by Andy Breckman effectively meets the challenges of translating the screen concept to the page. Monk, an extreme sufferer of obsessive-compulsive disorder who left the San Francisco police department after his journalist wife, Trudy, was killed in a car bombing, decides to accompany his psychotherapist, Dr. Kroger, to a professional conference in Germany so that he won't miss his weekly therapy session. Once in Germany, Monk spots a six-fingered man he believes may have ordered the hit on Trudy. The discovery that the man is an old acquaintance of his psychotherapist leads Monk to investigate Kroger as well. Despite the lack of the TV series' visual humor and the performance of actor Tony Shalhoub, Goldberg does a decent job of conveying both the sleuth's quirks and his genius.
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Adrian Monk is on a roll—solving murders as fast as they come, and not counting his Wheat Chex until they’re in the bowl. But when his therapist, Dr. Kroger, leaves for Germany, Monk can’t tie his shoes, forgets how to swallow, and loses track of his blinking. Desperate, he follows Dr. Kroger to Germany where he sees a man with six fingers. The man responsible for his wife’s death—or was it just his imagination? Now Monk has to deal with his phobias and the unfriendly polizei to find his man.
Table of Contents
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, July 2008
Copyright © 2008 Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. Monk © USA Cable Entertainment LLC. All rights reserved
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Goldberg, Lee, 1962-
Mr. Monk goes to Germany / Lee Goldberg.
“An Obsidian mystery.”
Based on the television series created by Andy Breckman.
eISBN : 978-1-436-23646-1
1. Monk, Adrian (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Eccentrics
and eccentricities—Fiction. 4. Germany—Fiction. I. Monk (Television program) II. Title. III.
Title: Mister Monk goes to Germany.
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To Valerie and Madison
This book was written in Los Angeles, California, and in Lohr, Germany … and in hotel rooms in Munich, Cologne, London, and Montreal and in the many airplanes and trains that shuttled me between those destinations.
I am indebted to Hermann Joha, Elke Schubert, Jasmin Steigler, the staff of the Franziskushohe, and the kind people of Lohr for their advice, guidance, and good humor on all things German. I also owe thanks to Justin Brenneman, Dr. D. P. Lyle, Kristen Weber, Kerry Donovan, and Gina Maccoby. And, finally, this book would not be possible without the creativity and enthusiasm of my friend Andy Breckman and the entire
While much of what I have written about Lohr and the surrounding area is true, a lot of it isn’t. I am entirely to blame for any errors of fact, geography, logic, or good taste, intentional or otherwise.
The story in this book takes place prior to the events in the episode “Mr. Monk Is On the Run.” While I try very hard to stay true to the continuity of the
TV series, it is not always possible, given the long lead time between when my books are written and when they are published. During that period new episodes may air that contradict details or situations referred to in my books. If you come across any such continuity mismatches, your understanding is appreciated.
I look forward to hearing from you at
Mr. Monk and the Assistant
It’s a tough job being somebody’s personal assistant. You have to answer their phone, manage their correspondence, run their errands, pay their bills, arrange their schedule, and basically do whatever tasks, menial to major, they are too busy or self-absorbed or distracted or pampered or disinterested to do themselves.
I know that there are plenty of other occupations that require a lot more education, talent, courage, patience, skill, and endurance. And there are many jobs considerably more demanding, degrading, disgusting, or dangerous than being a mere personal assistant.
Sure, it might not be as deadly and unpleasant as crab fishing in the Arctic, or as risky as defusing land mines in Afghanistan, or as disgusting as trudging through the human waste in the New York sewer system. But, believe me, being a personal assistant is a lot harder than you think it is.
It involves more than fetching coffee, making restaurant reservations, and picking up dry cleaning. You have to be equal parts shrink, social worker, and mercenary to not only second-guess and satisfy the ever-changing professional, personal, physical, and emotional needs of your employer, but to also predict and manage the impact that he will have on people around him and that they will have on him.
Your intellect, your integrity, your ethics, and your physical endurance are put to the test every single day in ways you never could have imagined.
And you can forget about working only nine to five. Being a personal assistant is a full-time job that never ends. It’s 24/7. You’re on call more than any doctor, firefighter, or cop but for a lot less pay, negligible respect, and no benefits.
Your life and whatever needs you may have are trumped by the whims of your employer. You exist on this earth to serve him.
Now take all of that and multiply it by a thousand. That’s what it’s like when you’re the personal assistant to a brilliant detective, like I am to Adrian Monk.
Brilliant detectives are able to see things we can’t, amid the insignificant details and white noise that normal people like us simply tune out.
They can find connections between objects, events, and behaviors that anybody else would consider random, coincidental, or just fate because, well, most things are.
They can spot inconsistencies that would go unnoticed by anyone else because we have other priorities and simply aren’t paying close enough attention.
They interact with the world in an entirely different way than you and I do. They observe the way we live instead of living the way we do.
That’s what makes the detectives brilliant. And that’s what makes them completely incapable of dealing with everyday life and the basics of simple human interaction. It’s the reasonwhy so many brilliant detectives are considered “difficult” and “eccentric” by most people who meet them.
Adrian Monk’s brilliance comes from an obsessive-compulsive disorder and myriad phobias, all of which finally overwhelmed him when his wife, Trudy, was killed in a car bombing that has remained unsolved, and has haunted him to this day. He was fired from the San Francisco police force after her death and now makes his living consulting on homicide cases with Captain Leland Stottlemeyer.
Monk goes through life making sure that everything is in its place, following detailed rules of order that exist only in his mind and nowhere else. So he’s sensitive to anything that’s out of place and he has an uncontrollable need to put things back where they belong. Or, at least, where he thinks they belong.
To him, an unsolved murder is a story missing an ending, a puzzle missing a piece, an extreme and fatal example of disorder in an orderly world.
to set it right.
To do that, he needs someone to manage his life, get him where he needs to go, and keep away all the things that can distract him or provoke his phobias so that he can get through the day without a nervous breakdown. And, if things go really well, maybe he can solve a murder, too.
But it’s not easy dealing with a man who regularly disinfects his box of disinfectant wipes with a disinfectant wipe, who measures his ice cubes to ensure they are perfect cubes, and who once demanded at a crime scene that the police rearrange the cars in an adjacent parking lot alphabetically by their license plates, and then in groups by their make, model, and year of manufacture, so that he could concentrate.
I know I’ve complained to you about my job before and, until recently, that was all I could do to relieve my stress. But that changed a short time back when the San Francisco police walked off the job in a contract dispute and Monk was temporarily reinstated to the police force as captain of Homicide.
He was put in command of a trio of other detectives who’d also been discharged from the force for mental health reasons. One detective had a violent anger-management problem, one was a paranoid schizophrenic, and one was slipping into senility.
As different as their problems were, all three of them had one thing in common: They each had an assistant to help them.
It was a revelation and a relief for me.
Until then, if I wanted advice I had to search for wisdom and guidance in the exploits of fictional assistants like Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson, Nero Wolfe’s Archie Goodwin, and Hercule Poirot’s Captain Hastings. Those days were over. I’d finally found real people who could understand and sympathize with my daily struggles.
I wasn’t alone anymore.
Now the three assistants and I get together about once a month at a coffee shop in the Marina District to vent about our troubles and give each other advice. I look at it as free psychological counseling, since two of the assistants are mental health professionals.
Occasionally we even have guests. A couple of months ago, we met a guy who works in Santa Barbara with a detective who pretends to be a psychic. Imagine that. His plight made us all feel a bit better about our own situations.
Jasper, a psychiatric nurse who assists the paranoid-schizophrenic detective, brought a guy to our last meeting who works with an Atlanta investigator who is a pathological liar. The assistant’s name was Gavin and the fibbing detective he works for was Steve Stone.
“At least I
that’s his name,” Gavin told us. “It could be a lie. He lies about everything. Most of my time and energy is spent trying to parse the truth from whatever he says and then tell it to the cops he consults with.”
“How do you do it?” I asked.
“I keep a running list of what he says and then at the end of the day, I strap him into a lie detector and question him about each comment,” Gavin said.
“He lets you do that?” Jasper asked.
“He knows I’ll quit if he doesn’t,” Gavin said. “But he’s become pretty good at fooling the machine. So sometimes I’ll slip him some Sodium Pentothal.”
“You drug your boss?” I asked, shocked.
“Who doesn’t?” said Sparrow, a young woman with so many piercings on her body she looked like a magnet dropped into a box of needles. She reluctantly assisted her grandfather Frank Porter, a retired SFPD detective who, despite his senility, was still a better investigator than most cops with perfect memory.
“I don’t,” I said.
“I’ve met Monk,” Sparrow said. “You should.”
There actually was an experimental drug Monk could take if he wanted to that would relieve most of his obsessive-compulsive tendencies. But it robbed him of his detecting skills. It also made him an insufferable jerk. Monk was already insufferable, but at least he wasn’t a jerk.
“The problem is that Stone has developed immunity to truth serum,” Gavin said. “So most of the time I’ve got no choice but to rely on my intuition and watch for his tells.”
“Tells?” Jasper asked, rapidly thumb-typing notes into his PDA. Everything we talked about was going into his thesis, the exact topic of which changed on a weekly basis.
“Body language, little tics, unconscious habits,” Gavin said, scratching his closely trimmed beard. “Like the way I’m scratching my beard, which I’m sure reveals something about my emotional state, though I’m not self-aware enough to know what it is.”
“You want me,” Sparrow said.
“No, I don’t,” Gavin said.
“Yes, you do,” Sparrow said. “That’s why you’re scratching your beard.”
“Maybe his beard just itches,” I said.
“When men want me,” Sparrow said, “they scratch.”
Gavin cleared his throat and continued. “What I’m saying is that there are some unconscious mannerisms Stone does whenever he’s telling a whopper. But even those mannerisms can be false. It’s a constant battle with him.”
“So why do you keep doing it?” asked Arnie, the balding anger-management counselor who worked with a notoriously violent ex-cop named Wyatt.
I thought that was a funny question coming from Arnie, considering that Wyatt had shot him three or four times and had thrown him out a window at least twice, and that was just since I’d met him.
Gavin thought about the question for a long moment, as if it was something he’d never considered before. But I was sure he’d thought about it many times. I figured he was probably just deciding how honest he wanted to be with himself and with us.
“Stone is funny, smart, caring, and a true genius. But his constant lies ruined his career as a cop and alienated everyone around him. Nobody can trust him. So now he doesn’t have anybody left in his life except me. It’s sad. And without me, I worry about what he might do.”
“You feel sorry for him,” I said.
“I admire him,” Gavin said.
“And you like to feel needed,” Jasper said, nodding sagely. He’s not sage, but he’s got the nod down. I think they teach it in shrink school.
Gavin shrugged. “I’m certainly not in it for the money.”
We all nodded in agreement like a row of bobbleheads.
Hearing Gavin’s story, I almost felt guilty about how well things were going lately with Monk. He still had all his obsessive-compulsive problems, but somehow they seemed more manageable these days, for him and for me. Or maybe I was just getting used to it.
But there was no question that things were humming along for him professionally lately, too. He solved cases so quickly, it seemed to me that he could probably start doing his work over the phone without visiting the crime scenes at all.
“Sometimes I think that maybe if I stick around long enough, and try real hard, I can save him,” Gavin said. “The way he saved me.”
I understood how he felt, more than I cared to admit to everyone in the room.
“What did he save you from?” I asked.
“Mediocrity,” Gavin said. “Before I met him, I was in telemarketing. I called people in the middle of their dinner and tried to sell them crap they didn’t want. Now I’m helping solve big murder cases. I’m doing something important with my life. What were you doing before?”
“Writing my thesis,” Jasper said.
“Running group therapy sessions,” Arnie said.
“Bartending,” I said.
“Enjoying life,” Sparrow said. “I’m really looking forward to going back to that.”
Gavin looked at the rest of us. “Do you want to go back?”
“I never left, ” Jasper said. “I’m still writing my thesis, only now it’s about the woman I’m working for. It’s going to break new ground in the understanding of paranoid schizophrenics.”
“I used to spend my days in an office with a lot of miserable, angry people before Wyatt came along,” Arnie said. “Now I’m leaping out of speeding cars.”
you out,” I said. “You were in the hospital for two weeks.”
“I’ve become a man of action,” Arnie said. “I’m going to get a few scrapes and bruises.”
“Don’t men of action usually have more hair?” Sparrow said.
“Tell that to Bruce Willis,” Arnie said.
“You aren’t Bruce Willis,” Sparrow said.
like I am,” Arnie said. “And that’s worth all the trouble Wyatt causes me.”
Gavin looked at me. “What about you? Could you go back to bartending?”
I shook my head. “Serving drinks was never my goal in life. I’m not sure I ever had a goal, which is probably why I’ve bounced around so many jobs. This is the longest I’ve worked in one place. But the truth is, I don’t think I could quit working for Mr. Monk.”
“Are you afraid of what will happen to him?” Jasper asked.
“I’m afraid of what will happen to me,” I replied.