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Authors: Lee Goldberg

Mr. Monk is a Mess

BOOK: Mr. Monk is a Mess
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The Monk Series

Mr. Monk Is a Mess

Mr. Monk on Patrol

Mr. Monk on the Couch

Mr. Monk on the Road

Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out

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

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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.

Copyright © 2012
© Universal Network Television LLC. Licensed by NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group 2012.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

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


Goldberg, Lee, 1962–

Mr. Monk is a mess: a novel/by Lee Goldberg.

p. cm.—(The Monk series)

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

“An Obsidian mystery.”

ISBN 978-1-101-56586-5

1. Monk, Adrian (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. 4. Psychics—Fiction. 5. Detective and mystery stories. I. Monk (Television program). II. Title. III. Title: Mr. Monk is a mess.

PS3557.O3577M777 2012

813'.54—dc23 201.105.2661

Set in ITC New Baskerville

Designed by Ginger Legato


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.

To Valerie and Maddie


This book is one of the few in the series that was written entirely at my desk in Los Angeles, California. I did all of my traveling this time courtesy of Google Earth.

The story takes place immediately after the events in
Mr. Monk on Patrol
—but don’t worry, you won’t be missing anything if you haven’t read that one yet (though it will be more satisfying if you do). It also continues a narrative arc in Monk and Natalie’s relationship that began, more or less, in
Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
and has evolved over the past five Monk mysteries.

The early part of this book takes place in Summit, New Jersey. There is a real town of that name that bears some striking similarities to the one in this story, but mine is entirely fictional in its geography, history, and political structure.

I want to thank William Rabkin, Terence Winter, Frank Cardea, and George Schenk for their invaluable help with this story, and Andy Breckman, the creator of
, for giving me so much creative freedom with these books and with his characters. But this novel would not have been written at all if not for the continued support of Gina Maccoby and Kerry Donovan.

Finally, this is the first time I’ve written a
book without having to call upon Dr. D. P. Lyle for his wise medical or forensic advice, but I am thanking him anyway because I knew I could call him, day or night, if a question
come up.

I hope you enjoy the book and, if you do, that you’ll drop by or give me a tweet @leegoldberg and let me know.


Mr. Monk in Summit

he hours pass very slowly when you’re sitting in a squad car, parked behind a billboard on a New Jersey country road, waiting for speeders to whiz by.

It’s not the most glamorous side of law enforcement, but writing $390 speeding tickets pays the bills, especially when a handful of corrupt politicians have looted the town treasury to finance their outrageously extravagant lifestyles.

So that’s why Adrian Monk and I—the lovely and resourceful Natalie Teeger—had to do our stint early that Monday morning out on the old highway, a remote, curving stretch of two-lane asphalt through the rolling hills, which no driver could resist taking at high speed.

We were into our third week working as uniformed police officers in Summit, thousands of miles away from our homes in San Francisco, where Monk was usually employed as a police consultant and I toiled, underpaid and underappreciated, as his long-suffering assistant.

Summit was basically an upscale bedroom community for highly educated, well-off professionals who worked in New York City, which was only a thirty-minute train ride away. The town’s roots as a pastoral farming community were still evident in the pastoral setting, the tree-lined streets, and the lush landscaping around the homes, many of which dated back to the early 1900s and had been impeccably restored and maintained. That cost lots of money, but from what I could see, there was no shortage of that in Summit, except in the recently looted town treasury.

We were in Summit as a favor to Police Chief Randy Disher, who’d once been a San Francisco homicide detective, and his live-in girlfriend, Sharona Fleming, who’d once been Monk’s nurse and assistant.

With all the local politicians in jail or out on bail awaiting trial, Disher found himself drafted as acting mayor and in desperate need of temporary help enforcing the law. So he called on us.

I’d worked around a lot of cops over the years while helping Monk solve murders but I’d never had a badge myself. But now that I’d worn one for a few weeks, I’d discovered that I liked it.

“Thank God for cars and paved roads,” Monk said. He sat in the passenger seat, aiming his radar gun out the window, waiting for our next victim.

I had to think about the reasoning behind his comment because Monk reasoned like nobody else. That’s partly a result of his obsessive-compulsive disorder, but mostly it’s due to the bizarre way he looks at the world. It’s what makes him a brilliant detective and an enormous pain in the ass.

I knew he liked cars because they had four wheels and were symmetrical, but he also firmly believed that the steering wheel should be in the center of the dashboard instead of on one side or the other. He would have settled for cars having two steering wheels, one on each side, even if one was only for show, but so far none of the major automakers had agreed to his gracious compromise (despite the fact that he’d sent them countless letters arguing his point).

So why was he thanking God for cars now? Perhaps it had less to do with cars than with the pavement, which I knew he liked without reservation.

“You’re grateful because cars are symmetrical,” I said, “and the roads they use are flat, level, and divided into lanes that dictate an orderly flow of traffic.”

“That’s only part of it,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful that nobody has to use horses for transportation anymore. Back in the old days, before we had paved roads, horses should have been outlawed in populated areas.”

“That would have made it awfully difficult for people to get around.”

“Horses made it worse.”

“I don’t see how.”

“On a typical day in New York City in the 1800s, horses dropped two-point-five million pounds of manure and expelled sixty-five thousand gallons of urine onto dirt roads. You try walking through that.” Monk did a full-body shudder, which people unfamiliar with him often mistook for an epileptic seizure instead of extreme revulsion. “Before cars came along, the Big Apple was the Big Poop.”

Ever since Monk had become improbably enamored of Ellen Morse, the ecologically conscious and obsessive-compulsive proprietor of Poop, a store on Summit’s main street that sold an astonishing array of art, shampoos, creams, stationery, fossils, coffee, and cooking oils derived from excrement, he’d been a walking encyclopedia of crap.

“I never thought of it from that perspective,” I said. “And I’m sorry that I can now.”

“It’s a wonder humanity survived that apocalypse.”

“That wasn’t an apocalypse,” I said.

“When the streets are piled with four hundred thousand tons of poo soaked in twenty-three million, seven hundred and twenty-five thousand gallons of pee in a year, that’s an apocalypse,” Monk said. “That’s why four horsemen, and not four guys in Toyotas, are your first warning that it’s com- ing.”

I sighed and shook my head. I couldn’t believe we were having this stupid discussion when there were far more important things we could be talking about, like the enormous changes we were making in our lives.

In forty-eight hours we’d be back in San Francisco, but only for a few weeks, and just to pack up our lives and our belongings. That’s because Disher had offered us full-time jobs as cops on his force and we’d accepted.

Well, I had.

Monk kept flip-flopping.

But no matter what he ultimately decided, our relationship had already changed in a big way. From the moment I put on the Summit Police uniform, I stopped being his employee and became his partner, although I couldn’t bring myself to call him by his first name.

And if he decided to stay in San Francisco, and I came back to Summit, he’d have to decide whether to hire a new assistant or to try to make it on his own for the first time since his wife was killed and he was discharged from the SFPD on psychological grounds.

I was about to bring up the topic when a bright red, mud-splattered Range Rover sped past the billboard we were hiding behind and on toward Summit.

Monk lowered his radar gun and looked at me. “Let’s roll.”

I flicked on the lights, cranked up the siren, and punched the gas, peeling out in a spray of gravel. The driver of the Range Rover wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist speeding on that lonely highway.

We caught up to the Range Rover in seconds and the driver dutifully pulled over to the shoulder without a fight.

I parked a few feet behind the car and observed that the driver was a woman and that the vehicle had New Jersey plates.

Monk was scowling, presumably because her bumper was splashed with mud thick with twigs and bits of leaves. He hated dirt.

I typed the numbers into the computer on our center console and discovered the Range Rover was registered to Kelsey Turek of Summit. There were no wants or warrants associated with her or the vehicle.

I got out and approached the driver’s side of the car and the woman at the wheel. Monk remained behind me, on the passenger side of the car, peering into the back of the vehicle, just in case there were a couple of bank robbers, a kidnapped heiress, a dozen illegal aliens, piles of cocaine, or maybe a stolen nuclear warhead in plain sight. The backseat was folded down flat, but the cargo area was empty. All I saw was a bottle of vinegar on the floor. As far as I knew, that wasn’t contraband.

The woman lowered her window as I approached. The first thing I noticed was the heavenly smell of the Range Rover’s plush leather interior. I’d never owned a car upholstered in anything but vinyl or cloth.

The driver was a cute, pug-nosed woman in her thirties, wearing a man’s long-sleeve flannel shirt and a pair of faded jeans. Her face was red around her eyes and the bridge of her nose, as if she’d been wearing ski goggles.

“Good morning,” I said. “May I see your license and registration, please?”

She already had them out on her lap and handed them to me. She had a nasty blister on her palm, just below her thumb.

“What’s the problem, Officer?” she asked.

I glanced at her license, which identified her as Kelsey Turek, though her photo reminded me of Katie Holmes in her
Dawson’s Creek
days, before
, Tom Cruise, Scientology, and age robbed her of that adorable woman-child quality.

“Are you aware of the speed limit on this highway?” I asked.

“Fifty-five,” she said.

“And do you know how fast you were driving, Ms. Turek?”

“Fifty-five,” she said.

“Perhaps it would surprise you to know the actual speed you were driving,” I said and realized I didn’t know, either. I looked across the top of the car to Monk, who stood on the passenger side and was peering through the window at Turek. “How fast was she going, Mr. Monk?”

“Fifty-four,” he said.

I glared at him. “So why did we pull her over? Was it so you could commend her for traveling at an even-numbered rate of speed or ticket her for driving too slow and impeding the nonexistent traffic?”

“Her car is splattered with mud,” Monk said. “And there’s a piece of a plastic bag caught on her trailer hitch.”

“That’s not a traffic violation,” I said.

“May I go now?” Turek asked, looking uncomfortable, like a child watching her parents arguing.

I handed her back her driver’s license and registration. I saw a white band of skin at the base of the ring finger on her left hand where she’d perhaps taken off a wedding ring. It made me think of the one that I’d once worn.

It was years after Mitch was shot down over Kosovo before I finally stopped wearing my ring. It took a surprisingly long time for that band of pale skin to tan and I was painfully sad when it did.

“Officer?” she prodded.

“Yes, I’m sorry,” I said. “You can go.”

“No, you can’t,” Monk said to her.

I sighed and turned back to Turek. “Forgive me for asking, but would you mind washing your car when you get back to Summit? My partner would really appreciate it.”

“Sure thing,” she said. “Whatever you want, Officer.”

“We can’t let her go and we certainly can’t let her wash her car,” Monk said.

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Because she could wash away important evidence.”

?” I said. “That her car was dirty?”

“That she murdered her husband,” Monk said.

That last word was barely out of his mouth when Turek floored it, the car speeding away, spraying us with loose dirt and gravel.

I staggered back, my face stung by the bits of rock, my eyes full of dirt.

“I’ll take that as a confession,” Monk said.

BOOK: Mr. Monk is a Mess
12.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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