Monk in an old west-style gold town named Trouble? The same town where a relative of his named Artemis Monk was assayer back in the late 1800s? The same man who suffered many of the same afflictions as Monk plus shared his detecting skills? And missing gold from a train robbery dating back to 1962? And dozens if not hundreds of people streaming in and out of Trouble over the years looking for the missing gold?
This all sounds crazy. And like a great good time. And it is.
A former San Francisco cop and good friend of Captain Stottlemeyer is murdered in Trouble and the Captain asks Monk and Natalie to drive there and see if they can find out who killed him. And why.
For me this is the funniest Monk novel yet. Monk and his maladies have never before met so many insidious enemies. As usual it's up the the fetching, patient Natalie to push and pull him through the case but this time there's a point where she finds herself helpless--Monk vanishes. The Monk-Natalie relationship is the soul of these novels and here it's front and center.
Lee Goldberg's story is rich with lore about the old Gold Rush in general and mining towns in particular. It is equally rich in Monk lore. I can't think of any other mystery character who makes me laugh out loud as often as Monk does. And in the current novel Monk is loopier than ever. Thank God.
In the course of the novel you'll notice the surnames of certain mystery writers who are probably familiar to you. They just add to the spirit of witty fun that stretches from the first page to the last. A fine fine novel. I can't wait for the next installment.
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Yes, it was a fine one.
There are a few western novelists in there too. This novel is a delight, and one I will reread soon. I am hoping Lee Goldberg can continue the tie-in novels even though the TV series is over.
Such a fine series. I'm looking forward to reading this one.
You're right, Richard. I'd made a note to myself about the names of the western writers and then didn't put it in. Sorry.
I've had lots of emails from readers who've spotted some of my western related "in-jokes" in MR. MONK IN TROUBLE. So far, only one reader has caught most of them, and that was Mike Galbreath. He caught all of these (if you want to find them yourself, DON'T READ ANY FURTHER):
Abigail Guthrie -- an homage to A.B Guthrie Jr., author the "The Way West."
Artemis Monk -- an homage, of course, to Artemis Gordon, from "The Wild, Wild West"
Harley Kelton -- an homage to to late Elmer Kelton, one of my favorite authors.
Billy Crider -- an homage to my friend, author Bill Crider
Edward Randisi -- an homage to western author Bob Randisi
Bob Gorman -- an homage to my friend, and enthusiastic supporter, author Ed Gorman
Doris Thurlo -- an homage to my friends, Aimee and David Thurlo, authors of the Ella Clah novels.
George Gilman -- an homage western author George G. Gilman, creator of "EDGE"
Jake Slocum -- An homage to the hero of 300 western novels
Ralph DeRosso -- an homage to western pulp writer H.A. DeRosso
Leonard McElroy -- Another homage to Elmer Kelton. Lee McElroy was Kelton's pseudonym and Kelton grew up on the McElroy ranch
Clifford Adams -- an homage to western writer Clifton Adams
The McMurtry mine -- a homage to Larry McMurtry
Sheriff Wheeler -- a little hat-tip to western author Richard S. Wheeler, who was a big help on the book.
Parley Weaver -- an homage to the two actors who played Chester on GUNSMOKE, Parley Baer (radio) and Dennis Weaver (t.v.)
Bart Spicer -- an homage to the author of of "Blues for the Prince," and a couple of fine westerns.
Bogg's Saloon -- a hat-tip to western author Johnny Boggs
Lydia Wilder -- an homage to author Laura Ingalls Wilder
Elmore Portis -- an homage to authors Elmore Leonard and Charles Portis
Pete Cooley -- a hat-tip to western actor Spade Cooley
Jonas Dehner -- a hat-tip to actor John Dehner played Palladin on the radio and guest starred in just about every TV western that was ever made.
Mike Galbreath was very, very good, but he missed a few references. Here's what he didn't spot:
Manny Fiekema -- was an homage to western writer Fieke Fiekema, who changed his name to Frederick Manfred.
Gator Dunsen -- an homage to a character John Wayne once played (named Dunsen, not Gator)
And, finally, the entire set-up in Trouble with Sheriff Kelton is a spoof of Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone, an alcoholic cop who becomes a police chief in Paradise, a fictional town outside of Boston (Bill Crider is the only one so far to catch that one).
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