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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, June 2011
Copyright © 2011Monk
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Goldberg, Lee, 1962–
Mr. Monk on the couch: a novel/by Lee Goldberg. p. cm.
“Based on the USA Network television series created by Andy Breckman.”
eISBN : 978-1-101-52894-5
1. Monk, Adrian (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder—Fiction. 4. Eccentrics and eccentricities—Fiction. I. Monk (Television program) II. Title.
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Mr. Monk and the Sunday Paper
here is never a day off from death.
I was sitting at my kitchen table in my bathrobe and slippers, eating a cream cheese–slathered bagel for breakfast and reading the massive Sunday editions of the
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
, when I got a phone call from Captain Leland Stottlemeyer of the San Francisco Police Department, notifying me of a homicide.
I’m not a cop, but I’m on call 24/7 to the police department anyway. That’s because I’m the personal assistant, driver, secretary, shopper, and all-around beast of burden for Adrian Monk, the brilliant detective and the SFPD’s only paid consultant (though he isn’t paid nearly enough for one person, let alone two, if you ask me).
I’d received well over a hundred such calls from Captain Stottlemeyer over the years, so starting my day with a corpse was as routine for me as a breakfast bagel.
There was a time when seeing the dead really bothered me. It wasn’t so much the bloodshed as it was my firsthand knowledge of the grief and lasting heartache the victim’s loved ones would soon experience. Each murder reminded me of what it felt like when I learned that my husband had been shot down over Kosovo.
I also felt like an intruder, not on the death, but on the crime scene.
I didn’t belong there. I was extraneous, irrelevant, a tourist.
Even worse, I was unskilled, untrained, unofficial, and uninterested.
I was useless to anyone but Adrian Monk, and even then, my duties were minimal. My job was to make sure nothing distracted him (and he could be distracted by something as innocuous as a stain on someone’s tie or the creak of a loose floorboard) and to supply him with disinfectant wipes (which he needed constantly).
But as time went on and I got caught up in the investigations, all of that changed.
I learned how to read a crime scene, how to process evidence, and how to question witnesses and suspects.
I also picked up some deductive skills and crime-solving instincts of my own, enough that I felt not only comfortable at a crime scene, but entitled to share my thoughts on a case, and expected them to be taken seriously.
I wasn’t just a reluctant observer anymore.
I began to
participating at crime scenes.
I looked forward to the puzzle, to the challenge of solving a crime, and to the satisfaction of learning the solution, something Monk always discovered, even when it seemed like an impossible feat.
But the biggest change in my attitude toward homicide was more recent and profound, arising out of my experiences on Monk’s past few big cases.
I’d begun to think of myself as a pretty good detective in my own right, not that I’d shared that opinion with anyone else yet. I’d barely admitted it to myself.
Being a detective was certainly not something I’d ever aspired to or a field that I had any interest in (beyond my childhood desire to be one of Charlie’s Angels, but that had more to do with their clothes, their independence, and their sassy attitudes). Becoming interested in detecting myself evolved slowly and unconsciously out of my relationship with Monk and, to a lesser degree, with Captain Stottlemeyer and his former lieutenant Randy Disher, who’d recently left the department to become the police chief in Summit, New Jersey.
But it had happened, and now I was eager to somehow put myself to the test, which I knew wouldn’t be easy, or perhaps even possible, with Adrian Monk around. His powers of observation and deduction are as astounding as they are irritating, so much so that he often solves cases within minutes of arriving at a crime scene. It doesn’t leave much room for anyone else to shine, much less a novice like me.
Monk has an uncanny ability to spot the slightest thing—whether it’s an object, a behavior, or an event—that’s uneven, odd, lopsided, or out of place, and when it comes to homicide investigation, that’s usually the piece that solves the crime.
He’s able to spot that telling detail because he obsesses over little things that are invisible to most of us. We don’t see them because they are ridiculously mundane or irrelevant, except when they are not, which is anytime there’s a dead body involved.
It’s a personality quirk that works great for Monk when it comes to solving crimes but not so well when it comes to functioning in normal society.
That’s mostly where I came in. I facilitated his interaction with others and with his environment.
In other words, I tried to keep people from driving him crazy and vice versa, while at the same time trying to hold on to my own sanity.
But it wasn’t enough for me anymore just to stand there, straightening things and handing out wipes.
After getting Stottlemeyer’s call that Sunday morning, I quickly dressed in a T-shirt, V-neck pullover, and jeans, hurried out of my little Victorian house in the Noe Valley area of the city, and drove north to Pine Street, where Adrian Monk lived in an even-numbered second-floor apartment that measured exactly eight hundred square feet in an art deco building with four floors.
When I arrived, he was in the kitchen, in the middle of his Sunday morning ritual of cleaning his cleaning supplies.
There was a time not so long ago when I found it odd to see him spraying a can of Lysol with a can of Lysol, but not anymore.
It’s amazing what you can become accustomed to.
Monk was wearing a white apron and yellow rubber dish gloves and was happily humming one of his favorite songs: Tommy Tutone’s annoying 1982 hit “867-5309,” aka “Jenny.” He liked the song because the phone number adds up to thirty-eight, an even number, and it was released in an even-numbered year, and it hit number four, also an even number, on the Billboard charts.
“Just give me a moment to finish up,” Monk said, buffing the can of Lysol until it gleamed.
“It’s Sunday morning, I’m double-parked out front, and there’s a bunch of cops and crime scene investigators waiting on us who’ve locked down an entire block in the Marina District. But there’s no hurry.”
My sarcasm was wasted on Monk, who didn’t understand it and wouldn’t care even if he did. I knew that but it didn’t stop me from indulging myself anyway.
“When was the last time you cleaned your cleaning supplies?” he asked.
“Um, let me think.” I looked at my feet as I pretended to ponder the question, then, after a long moment, I raised my head. “Never.”
cleaned your cleansers?”
“They’re cleansers, Mr. Monk. How much cleaner can they get?”
“Do you clean your vacuum?”
“I empty the bag.”
“That’s not the same thing,” he said. “Do you clean your broom?”
“When my broom gets dirty, I throw it out and buy a new one.”
I thought he’d appreciate that. But he didn’t.
“It gets dirty every time you sweep.”
“I’m talking about when it gets really dirty.”
“That is when it gets really dirty. When was the last time you threw out a broom?”
I had to think about that for a moment. He grimaced and looked up to the heavens. “Oh, dear God. She has to think about it.”
“A year or two,” I said.
Monk marched over to his huge utility closet and took out one of his many brooms, the brush wrapped in plastic. He held it out to me. “I want you to have this.”
“I have a broom,” I said.
“Cleaning your home with filthy equipment is like washing your hands with dung. It’s a miracle you’re still alive.” He thrust the broom at me again. “In the name of all that’s holy, take the broom.”
I took it just to shut him up. “Thank you. Can we go now?”
He put his cleansers in a plastic box, placed it on a shelf in his utility closet, then took off his apron and neatly folded it.
“Promise me that you’ll throw out your old broom the instant you get home.”
“I’ll throw it out.”
“In an incinerator,” he said.
“I don’t have an incinerator.”
“You, of all people, should get one.” He went down the hall and got his coat.
I followed him. “
don’t have one.”
“Because I’m careful to keep myself and my belongings free from dirt and disease,” he said and held the front door open for me. “You wallow in it.”
I walked past him outside. “Then I must have a terrific immune system.”
“You’re being selfish,” Monk said, closing the door and locking it behind him. “You aren’t considering the danger your filthy conduct poses to the people around you.”
“You mean yourself.”
“Of course I do,” he said as we walked side by side to my car.
“You don’t think
“I represent all of humanity,” Monk said.
“How do you know?”
“Because there are only two of us in this conversation,” Monk said. “And humanity wouldn’t pick the filthy one.”