Mr. Monk Is Miserable
||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (January 2012)|
1st edition 2008 hardback cover
|Series||Monk mystery novel series|
|December 2, 2008|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|LC Class||PS3557.O3577 M78 2008|
|Preceded by||Mr. Monk Goes to Germany|
|Followed by||Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop|
Natalie wants a break so she blackmails Monk in going to Paris, France. While in Paris, Monk surprises Natalie by telling her he wants to check out the sewers because the underground maze of tunnels and pipes is famous for keeping Paris sanitary. While traveling the mazes of the sewers, the two stumble upon the catacombs, which are filled with aging skulls and bones. When Monk spots a skull that is not so old that shows evidence of murder, the pair's vacation plans are once again put aside so Monk can conduct a murder investigation.
Having agreed (or rather, been blackmailed) to stop over in Paris, France at the conclusion of their last case in Germany, Adrian Monk accompanies Natalie Teeger for a few days in the City of Lights. They decide to travel there from Lohr by flying (despite Monk having a fear of flying). While they are on the flight, another man dies from a severe allergic reaction to peanut oil, and Monk figures he was murdered, and is able to expose one of the flight attendants as the killer.
When their plane arrives in Paris, Monk and Natalie get taken into a separate room to be questioned about what they saw during the incident. The chief prefecture of the Paris police, Inspector Phillipe Le Roux, immediately recognizes Monk as the man who solved a homicide in Paris by merely reading an article in a San Francisco newspaper. During their first night, Monk is able to point out the things that suggest that Natalie has been in Paris before, with Mitch.
Natalie is full of plans for things she wants to see, but Monk surprises her with his own desire: visiting the Paris Sewer Museum. She's always thought that Monk would rather die than go down a sewer, but Monk says that the Paris sewers were the first of their kind, and helped make the city a pioneer of sanitation in Europe - an achievement that actually might be worth considering paying tribute to.
After travelling through the maze that is the sewer system, our duo enters the Paris Catacombs, a massive ossuary for the city's long-dead residents. But among them, Monk spots a skull that is not so old, and concludes that it belongs to someone who hasn't been dead for as long a time as everyone else whose skeletons line the catacombs.
At first, Natalie refuses to perform her assistant duties, and demands that Monk let her enjoy her vacation; and the next day, she drags him to dinner in a novelty restaurant called Toujours Nuit ("Always Night") - because the dining room is always kept in total blackness, and all the waiters are blind. Natalie tries to ease Monk into the experience by reminding him of the time when he was blinded by a firefighter's killer. During the dinner, a young woman who calls herself Sandrine appears mysteriously beside Monk and says she can tell him who the murdered man was. Before she can go further, there is an unusual noise, and the lights come up to show that the woman, whose real name is Aimee Dupon, has been stabbed to death with a steak knife. Natalie cannot help it - they are smack in the middle of the investigation. Monk is left with one unsolved question - how did the killer get in or out of the restaurant without being seen?
When Monk does an over-the-phone session with Dr. Kroger, Dr. Kroger asks to speak with Natalie. Over the phone, Dr. Kroger reprimands Natalie for her refusal to help Monk with these homicides. Natalie insists that she just wants to have a vacation, but Dr. Kroger points out that what she is using is something called emotional blackmail - essentially, she is attempting to make Monk someone he is not. Monk's detective abilities are what help him identify himself in the world. His need to detect is not something that Natalie is going to be able to change. She can't blame Monk for being the person he always has been. She'll have to find some form of a compromise between them or they'll both have a very long day.
Monk and Natalie go to the police station later that night, and are surprised to see Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher waiting for them, having flown in overnight from San Francisco. The skull that Monk found in the catacombs has been identified through dental records as belonging to Nathan Chalmers, a notorious con artist back in the States, the architect of a massive Ponzi scheme whose victims included many of California's wealthiest and brightest. It was believed that he committed suicide ten years ago, but the skull has been proven to be Chalmers, and proves that he faked his death and escaped to Europe - a case embarrassing enough to send the two American detectives to Paris on the Commissioner's orders, so as to do damage control.
From what the Paris Inspectors have learned from Natalie's and Monk's statements, they have found video surveillance tapes showing that Aimee followed them around town for several hours before she was killed. They question her former employer at a publishing company. The publisher says that Aimee quit in protest after the company rejected a graphic novel submitted by her lover, Antoine Bisson, a freelance artist. Bisson, it seems, enjoys exploring Paris's underground community, and his novel featured a romanticized portrait of a Freegan community that occupies condemned buildings and the underground tunnels. As part of their stand against consumerism, they do not hold jobs and instead subsist on food and other wares salvaged from other people's garbage. Bisson, disgusted, admits during questioning that Aimee was carried away by the romance and decided to join the community, ignoring its grittier reality.
Their next person of interest is Lucien Barlier, the charismatic leader of the underground Freegans. He claims that Chalmers, under the assumed name of "Bob Smith," joined the Freegan community, and encouraged several of the Freegans who looked up to Barlier to "break away" and follow him in actively punishing consumerists instead of just living off their refuse. Stottlemeyer later discovers that, for Bob Smith/Nathan Chalmers, this meant committing identity theft with papers salvaged from peoples' trash cans, and stealing thousands, perhaps millions, of euros. Aimee, it seems, left Barlier to go with Chalmers.
It seems obvious that whoever killed Chalmers also killed Aimee, to silence her. Barlier says he didn't commit either crime, but Monk is sure that any man who lives in a sewer and eats other people's garbage has to be insane, not to mention guilty. Natalie, however, is charmed into accepting a dinner date with him.
In the middle of their date, in Barlier's underground "lair," Monk and the detectives burst in, led there by Antoine Bisson, and arrest him for the murder of Aimee Dupon. Evidence found in the restaurant connects Barlier's lair with clues found in the restaurant.
Natalie protests, remembering that they have all overlooked one important point, but Monk is one step ahead of her, as always. It turns out that Barlier's arrest is just a trap to catch Antoine Bisson, the real killer.
Here's What Happened
The detectives head to Antoine Bisson's studio, and find that Bisson has made a painting of a chipped plate. Monk recognizes the plate as one he had thrown out when he went to Toujours Nuit, and on that cue, the police bring in the original plate, salvaged from the trash.
Monk reveals that Bisson killed Chalmers for taking Aimee away from him, intending to frame Barlier for the crime. However, after the skull was discovered, Aimee recognized it as being Chalmers's skull, and also realized that as Barlier would never resort to violence, Bisson had to be the real killer. He killed her to stop her from confessing. By leading Monk and the other detectives to Lucien's home in the labyrinth of the sewers, Bisson has confirmed that he knew the way there, and thus proven that he planted the evidence there and at the crime scene to frame Barlier.
Bisson says there's no proof, but Monk reveals that Toujours Nuit was a dark place. The killer had to be able to see in the dark, and Bisson owns a set of night vision goggles for his sojourns into the sewers, which Barlier does not.
Bisson confesses, and then, in true Gallic fashion, chooses to jump to his death out of guilt for killing the woman he loved. Barlier is exonerated, and he and Natalie spend a romantic day above ground around the city.
Meanwhile, between solving two murders, and getting to drive a motocrotte (a motorcycle retrofitted to clean dog droppings off the streets) during his off-time, Monk is a happy man, and admits that their enforced French vacation has had its points of success.
Characters from the television show
- Adrian Monk: the titular detective, played on the television series by Tony Shalhoub;
- Natalie Teeger: Monk's loyal assistant, and the narrator of the book; played on the series by Traylor Howard;
- Dr. Charles Kroger: Monk's psychiatrist; played on the series by Stanley Kamel;
- Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: Captain of the San Francisco Police Department's Homicide Division; Monk's oldest friend and former partner; played on the series by Ted Levine;
- Lieutenant Randy Disher: Stottlemeyer's right-hand man, played on the series by Jason Gray-Stanford;
- Julie Teeger: (mentioned only) Natalie's teenaged daughter; played on the series by Emmy Clarke;
- Chief Inspector Phillipe Le Roux: Chief of the homicide division of the Paris Prefecture of Police;
- Inspector Guy Gadois: Le Roux's right-hand man;
- Aimee Dupon: Murder victim #2;
- Laura Boucher: Senior editor at the publishing company where Dupon worked;
- Antoine Bisson: Freelance artist and author, Aimee's former lover;
- Lucien Barlier: Leader of an underground community of Freegans, who live on society's waste;
- Pierre: Motocrotte driver;
- Nathan Chalmers: Murder victim #1;