Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mr. Monk Is Miserable-Lee Goldberg

Mr. Monk Is Miserable
Lee Goldberg
Obsidian, Dec 2008, $21.95
ISBN: 0451225155

Mr. Monk stalks his psychiatrist by following him to Germany so they can continue their sessions; he also solves homicide cases that almost killed him and his assistant Natalie. Both Natalie and his shrink are unhappy with Monk for ruining their vacations. Using the guilt card, Natalie blackmails Monk into spending a few days in France on a real vacation. On the plane from Germany, a passenger dies; Monk determines who the killer is in a few minutes.

In France, Monk feels traumatized as he is out of his environment, but Natalie has no sympathy as she plans to enjoy her vacation. Monk decides to visit the famous Paris sewerage system because he wants to pay homage to the cleanliness of the city. In the catacombs below the streets, he finds a tomb filled with old skulls except one that looks quite recent. DNA testing proves this is San Francisco con artist Nathan Chalmers assumed dead for a decade. In a darkened restaurant a woman tells Monk she knows something about the deceased, but before she can explain further she is killed. The compulsive Monk is cleaning the Paris streets while putting the puzzle pieces in order.

No one does novelizations of TV shows better than Lee Goldberg consistently does. The author is able to catch the essence of Monk’s personality while also providing an entertaining whodunit. Readers see a different side of Paris with its underground catacombs and sewers (unless you happen to be the Honeymooners’ Ed Norton) where people live. Natalie will have to wait for her needed foreign vacation while series fans will relish following the idiosyncrasies of the hero as he cleans the streets of Paris.

Harriet Klausner