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Authors: Lee Goldberg

Mr. Monk in Trouble

BOOK: Mr. Monk in Trouble
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page



CHAPTER ONE - Mr. Monk and the Trick

CHAPTER TWO - Mr. Monk and the Pirate

CHAPTER THREE - Mr. Monk Arrives in Trouble

CHAPTER FOUR - Mr. Monk Meets the Chief

CHAPTER FIVE - Mr. Monk and the Golden Rail Express

CHAPTER SIX - Mr. Monk and Mr. Monk

CHAPTER SEVEN - Mr. Monk and a Night in Trouble

CHAPTER EIGHT - Mr. Monk Has Breakfast

CHAPTER NINE - Mr. Monk and the Mine

CHAPTER TEN - Mr. Monk and the Permanent Record

CHAPTER ELEVEN - Mr. Monk Hears a Story

CHAPTER TWELVE - Mr. Monk Hears a Theory

CHAPTER THIRTEEN - Mr. Monk and What He Doesn’t See

CHAPTER FOURTEEN - Mr. Monk Gets a Phone Call

CHAPTER FIFTEEN - Mr. Monk Needs a Hand

CHAPTER SIXTEEN - Mr. Monk on the Road

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN - Mr. Monk’s Endgame

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN - Mr. Monk at the Museum

CHAPTER NINETEEN - Mr. Monk and the Surprise

CHAPTER TWENTY - Mr. Monk Gets in Trouble in Trouble

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE - Mr. Monk Sets the World Right

The Monk Series

Mr. Monk in Trouble
Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
Mr. Monk Is Miserable
Mr. Monk Goes to Germany
Mr. Monk in Outer Space
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii
Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse

Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First Printing, December 2009

Copyright © 2009
© USA Cable Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Goldberg, Lee, 1962-

Mr. Monk in trouble: a novel/by Lee Goldberg.

p. cm.—(An Obsidian mystery)

“Based on the USA Network television series created by Andy Breckman.”

eISBN : 978-1-101-15192-1

1. Monk, Adrian (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction.

3. Eccentrics and eccentricties—Fiction. 4. Psychics—Fiction. I. Monk (Television program) II. Title. III. Title: Mister Monk in trouble.

PS3557.O3577M775 2009

813’.54—dc22 2009024972

Set in ITC New Baskerville

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

To Valerie & Madison


Portions of this book are set in Trouble, a fictional California mining town, in the mid-1850s and I have taken a few historical and geographical liberties to suit my creative needs. I hope you can forgive me.

I am indebted to Dr. D. P. Lyle and Katherine Ramsland for their medical and forensic advice; Richard S. Wheeler, Ken Hodgson, and James L. Reasoner for their wisdom on frontier mining and the Old West; William Rabkin, Grant Logan, and Ripley Hilliard for helping me uncover the legend of the Golden Rail Express; David Breckman for his initial enthusiasm for the idea of this book (and for the contribution of a very funny joke), and finally to my friends and colleagues Andy Breckman, Kristen Weber, Kerry Donovan, and Gina Maccoby for their continued support.

Several reference books were extremely helpful to me in my research:
California Gold and the Highgraders
by F. D. Calhoun,
The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West
by Candy Moulton,
How the West Was Worn
by Chris Enss,
Black Powder and Hand Steel
, and
Western Mining
by Otis E. Young Jr., and two volumes in the Time-Life Old West Series:
The Forty-Niners
by William Weber Johnson and
by Robert Wallace.

Some continuity notes: The story in this book takes place after the novel
Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
and before the events chronicled in the final season of the
TV series.

For many years on the TV series, and in all of my previous books, Monk only drank Sierra Springs bottled water and nothing else. Recently, however, the producers abruptly changed Monk’s favorite water from Sierra Springs, a brand which really exists, to the fictional Summit Creek without any explanation. I have done the same.

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


The Extraordinary Mr. Monk

(From the journal of Abigail Guthrie)


dream killed my husband, Hank Guthrie, before his twenty-fifth year.

We’d been working this barren patch of dirt in Kansas, trying to make it into a farm and having no luck at it, when he read about all the gold that was sprinkled on the ground out West in California.

The newspapers said the riverbeds there were lined with gold and that anybody with two good arms, a shovel, and a tin pan could earn at least a hundred dollars a day without breaking a sweat. It sounded too good to be true, but that didn’t stop every poor farmer from catching gold fever anyway.

My Hank was one of them.

I tried to talk sense to him, but his mind was set on abandoning the farm, packing up what little we had, and heading to California.

I could hardly blame him for wanting to go.

When you’re killing yourself trying to grow a crop in a land as ornery, dry, and infertile as my old granny, you want to believe there’s an easier way.

I knew California couldn’t be the paradise of gold that the newspapers made it out to be, but I figured we couldn’t be any worse off than we already were. Besides, I was raised to obey my husband no matter how thickheaded, foolhardy, and stubborn he might act.

So in 1852 we teamed up with four other families and went west. Along the way, we lost nearly all of our cattle and had to toss our stove, our dishes, my momma’s candlesticks, and just about every possession we had to lighten our load. Those losses were nothing compared to the human toll. Half of our party died of cholera.

The way west was littered with valuables, graves, and animal carcasses from Kansas to California. More than once during those long, brutal months I wondered what wealth could await us that could match what we’d all lost.

I took it as a bad omen of what was to come. If that wasn’t enough of a sign, the first California mining camp we rolled into was named Trouble.

I’d have preferred to stop in a place called Opportunity, Happiness, or Serenity, but I suppose it could have been worse. The place could have been called Futility, Misery, or Death, all of which would have been a more accurate description of what awaited us.

It certainly wasn’t a pretty place. The main street was a mire of mud, sawdust, rocks, and horse droppings with an occasional wood plank or two flung atop it to make crossing less of a slog.

Everything looked like it was erected in a hurry by people with little regard for outward appearance, skill in construction, or any thought of permanence.

Most of the structures were one-story, with log walls and sawed-timber storefronts with tall, flat cornices of varying heights. There was also a smattering of shacks, log cabins, and tents of all kinds, some crudely cobbled together out of boughs and old calico shirts. The hotel was a lopsided, two-story building with a sagging veranda. There was a wood-plank sidewalk on each side of the street and plenty of hitching posts.

I didn’t see a church, but that didn’t mean one of those tents didn’t contain a preacher or two. In my experience, preachers and gamblers always showed up where there was whiskey and money around.

The men on the street looked like they’d all just crawled out of their graves. They were covered in dirt. It was caked to their tattered wool shirts and patched britches, it dusted their mangy beards and ragged hats and it clung to their hair, which was slicked back with wagon-wheel grease.

If there were womenfolk around, they were either in hiding or hadn’t emerged from their graves yet. Seeing the menfolk, I couldn’t blame them for keeping out of sight.

The only evidence of prosperity that I could see was the existence of the camp itself, and as ugly as it was, it was a strong indicator. Trouble wouldn’t have been expanding, or even been there at all, if there wasn’t gold to support it.

Hank and I might have passed right through, and probably should have, but he couldn’t wait to stick his pan in a river. He found some flakes of gold in that first pan of gravel and was so excited about it that he staked himself a claim right away, convinced that we were sitting on our mother lode.

We weren’t.

When that patch didn’t pan out, we worked our way up and down that river, never straying far from Trouble, staking new claims, hoping we were just one pan away from striking it rich.

We didn’t know much about geology but we’d learned that gold was easiest to find in gravel bars where the river widened and bent or where it once did. Gold being heavier than other minerals, the flakes and nuggets would settle in, sometimes near the surface, and sometimes down deep.

The gold wasn’t hard to recognize. There was the color, of course, and the soft way it felt when you bit a nugget in your teeth, not that we found many nuggets.

The gold was there-—that was for sure—but getting enough of it out of the ground to make a living was back-breaking, soul-bleeding work that was much harder than farming. But gold fever kept men like Hank going in a way that farming never could. There were too many people striking it rich all around us for him to ever stop believing that it could happen to him. The fever blinded him to the pain, futility, poverty, and hardship.

I didn’t have the fever. But I had a marriage and a man that I loved. Keeping them both healthy and strong was what kept me going.

We lived in a tent so we could move wherever the gold was. I kept house, cooked our meals, and sometimes patched and sewed up clothes for some of the other prospectors in exchange for necessities while Hank worked our claim.

A man had to pan half an ounce to an ounce of gold a day, about sixteen dollars’ worth of color, if he wanted to survive and set a little aside for the lean days.

But we rarely panned more than six dollars a day worth of color, roughly six pinches of gold dust, and with molasses at one dollar a bottle and flour going for fifty cents a pound, we could barely keep ourselves fed.

Most of the time, our bag of flour was worth more than our pouch of gold.

I tried to convince Hank to give up on prospecting and try something else. We argued about it for most of that first year until I finally just gave up and resolved to do my best to support him, no matter how wrongheaded I thought he was. That was what I’d been taught that a good wife was supposed to do.

Two years of panning in the cold river water, day in and day out, bowed his back and swelled his joints. It got so bad that he couldn’t stand and could barely breathe. And even then, with all those ailments, his biggest ache was the desire to pan for more gold.

They say it was rheumatic fever that killed him, but I know better.

It was the dream of gold that did him in.

His death left me alone but not without assets. I had our claim, our tent, and his tools, but they weren’t worth a sack of potatoes. What I had worth something was my body.

Women were scarce in Trouble, so the instant Hank was buried, I became as rare and valuable a commodity in those parts as gold.

There were a couple of ways I could mine that value.

I could marry a wealthy man, of which there were few, most of whom were living in their San Francisco mansions while others toiled for them in the mines.

Or I could become involved with many less prosperous men, of which there were multitudes, most of whom were willing to pay a pinch or two of gold to enjoy a woman’s affection for a short time.

Women who engaged in that sort of barter were called sporting women and lived in rooms behind the saloons. They were generally held in higher regard than such women back East, perhaps because the population in Trouble was mostly made up of lonely men in desperate need of their services. That might also explain why vices that weren’t tolerated back home were taken so casually in the mining camps, whether it was drinking, gambling, whoring, or murder.

A few of the sporting women did all right, made enough money to support themselves until they could find a man with plenty of gold—and low moral standards—to marry, and move on. But it seemed to me that most of the women died young, taken by syphilis, abortions, or suicide by laudanum.

I tried to survive instead by sewing and laundering for the miners. But there weren’t many men willing to part with their hard-earned gold dust on something as frivolous as clean clothes that were just going to get dirty again the next day. They felt their gold was better spent on whiskey, food, and sporting women.

However, there was one peculiar and extraordinary man who valued cleanliness and order above all else.

I’m talking, of course, about Artemis Monk, Trouble’s only assayer.

I’ve heard it said that assaying—analyzing stones and such and determining the mineral content—is the third oldest profession after doctors and sporting women.

Every prospector and miner came to Monk with their rocks so he could determine how much gold was in them, the quality of the gold, and estimate the potential yield of their claims. That made him easily the second or third most important man in Trouble.

There was either something very unusual about the geology of Trouble, or unique to Monk’s calculations, because the various minerals in the samples he analyzed always showed up in even amounts. He attributed it to the “immutable balance of nature,” but if that was so, the rest of the world was unbalanced.

As odd as that was, the fact remained that Monk always turned out to be right in his estimates of the worth of a claim and anybody who ever questioned his conclusions eventually found that out for themselves the hard way.

But even if you never had business with Monk, you certainly knew who he was. Monk stood out. He was the only clean-shaven man in the camp, his hair was neatly trimmed and he bathed every day, which in itself was astonishing. He always wore the same thing—a derby hat with a domed crown and a flat, round brim, a long-sleeved white shirt buttoned to the collar, a sleeveless vest with four pockets and four buttons, wool pants, and fine black boots.

His clothes were always clean. I know, because I was the one who cleaned them—not that I ever found a speck of dirt or the tiniest stain. He brought me his clothes neatly folded. They looked as if they’d never been unfolded, much less worn, but I figured if he wanted me to wash clean clothes, so be it. I was in no position to turn down work.

Monk seemed very pleased with my laundering and came back to my tent by the river almost every morning. I never saw him on a horse or even near one. He seemed repulsed by the animals. He got where he was going on foot or by railroad.

One day he showed up at my tent to find me gone and my tent empty, so he searched the town for me. He found me outside one of the saloons with my trunk at my side.

I was trying to swallow down my misgivings and enter the sporting life. It must have been obvious to him what was going through my mind.

“You can’t do this,” he said.

“I don’t have any choice, Mr. Monk. It’s the only thing of value that I have to sell.”

“You are excellent at laundering,” he said. “Nobody here has ever done it better.”

“I can’t survive doing that.”

“But I need you,” Monk said.

“And I need food, a warm place to sleep, and a roof over my head.”

“Done,” he said.

I turned to look at him. “What do you mean?”

“I’ll hire you,” Monk said. “You can live in the spare room in my office.”

I eyed him warily. “What do you expect in return, Mr. Monk?”

“Not what you are prepared to give in there, Mrs. Guthrie,” he said, tipping his head towards the saloon. “I need an assistant to keep my life clean and orderly. It’s becoming too much for me to handle alone and still do my work.”

We settled on a price, one that would sustain me and allow me to set a little aside so that I could someday return to Kansas.

He accepted my terms so quickly that I wondered if I’d set my price too low. But I was grateful for the opportunity and I moved in that day.

It was a purely chaste arrangement though I’m sure nobody believed that.

I didn’t care what they thought. All that mattered to me was that I wouldn’t have to become a sporting woman, at least not yet.

I soon discovered that keeping his life clean and orderly involved far more than simple housekeeping and that his skills, and service to the community, extended beyond detecting minerals in rocks.

Artemis Monk solved crimes.

BOOK: Mr. Monk in Trouble
3.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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