Monday, July 26, 2010

Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out by Lee Goldberg

"For him suffering was a way of life, a vocation and an art form..."

Who else could be be talking about? Adrian Monk, of course, as seen through the eyes of his weary assistant Natalie in the latest Monk adventure Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out.

I've given up trying to decide which is the best book in the series because they all seem to be equally funny, clever and cunningly quirky. That said maybe this one is the best because here we have the spectacle of Monk, who never pays attention to the news or the problems of those around him, broadsided by the economic collapse that has ruined millions and millions of lives. Seems Monk invested his savings with Reinier Investments, Reinier being one of those larger-than-life financiers who are like TV evangelists only with better haircuts. Trouble is Reinier was running a Ponzi scheme. And Bob Sebes, the financial planner for the company who ran the scheme, happens to be a killer. But the gods aren't done with Monk yet. Because of all the budget cuts necessitated by the economic collapse Monk gets laid off.

The first murder set-up is a classic: a locked car. The only person in the vehicle was the driver, who was about to testify against his boss Reinier. He was somehow strangled with piano wire. This is solved quickly. The main mystery concerns another impossible crime-how can Sebes be a killer when he's wearing a monitoring device and cops and press are there to see that he never leaves. More mystifying than even the locked car.

One of the things that makes this series so distinctive is the full and realistic portraits we get of Natalie and her daughter Julie. The writing here is especially strong. Lee Goldberg is good at describing the way we live now.

The old wrestling come on "This time it's personal" applies here because Monk plans to trap, humiliate, debase and defoliate the "dude" (who said Monk is out touch?) who took his money.

A truly artful comedy that has a lot to say about the people who robbed us blind over the past three decades.


Richard S. Wheeler said...

I've deeply enjoyed these novels. It is not easy to catch a character like Monk, and depict the reactions to him and his maddening ways, but Lee Goldberg manages marvelously well, book after book. There are some sterling moments here, as when Monk is a grocery checkout clerk--and solves a murder in the process of driving everyone else nuts. I hope this series will keep right on, regardless of the status of the TV show.

Lee Goldberg said...

Thanks so much for another great review. I hope I keep living up to your high expectations for the books.