Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop is the eighth novel in the Monk mystery book series by Lee Goldberg. It was published on July 7, 2009.
Natalie Teeger has a problem: she isn't sure who she is or what she was meant to do. Being Adrian Monk's assistant, she spends most of her time in the company of a man who, as dysfunctional as he otherwise is, knows what he's good at and what makes him happy. She wishes she could say the same.
As the story opens, Monk and Natalie go to the scene of what looks like a routine self-defense killing at a law school, where Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher are wrapping up. With his usual speed, Monk sees through the façade and exposes the shooter, criminology Professor Jeremiah Cowan, as having committed a deliberate murder.
Privately, Natalie worries how much Stottlemeyer's ego can stand being shown up by Monk's superior skills, over and over again. She worries even more when, two days after the university incident, both men are invited to give a panel lecture at a law enforcement officers' convention being held in San Francisco. The panel moderator, a former SFPD officer named Paul Braddock, has an axe to grind against Stottlemeyer, who made him resign eight years ago rather than face (well-founded) charges of brutality and corruption. Braddock's questions laud the SFPD's recent case closure rate, but force Stottlemeyer to give most or all of the credit to Monk.
Afterwards, Natalie invites the Captain out for coffee. He assures her that he's fine, and he was being completely sincere when he said Monk's genius is the best possible thing for the department, and the public as a whole. She loosens up and shares some of her own insecurity. With a twinkle in his eye, Stottlemeyer invites her and Monk to accompany him on a visit to an old friend the next day, across the bay in the small town of Mill Valley.
The friend is Bill Peschel, who used to run a dive bar in the Tenderloin and was one of the SFPD's most valued confidential informants. He sold his bar and retired to Florida ten years ago, but his suburban daughter, Carol, and her husband took Bill in after the onset of senility. He now believes that he is still tending his bar, and passing on "hot tips" to his old police contacts. In a way, Natalie takes Stottlemeyer's point: Bill knows who he is, but to the point of forgetting anything else.
Meanwhile, Monk is enraptured by a wondrous device in Carol's home: a Diaper Genie, an automated wastebasket that individually seals each piece of garbage in its own plastic baggie. Monk drags Natalie around the city, buying up what seems like every Genie in San Francisco, to equip each room in his apartment, and as gifts for Natalie and all his friends.
A few days later, when Monk goes to the station to give Stottlemeyer and Disher their Genies, Stottlemeyer has some bad news: the chief has slashed his budget, and he can't afford Monk's consulting fee any longer. Natalie is furious, believing that Stottlemeyer is taking out his own inadequacy on Monk, but Stottlemeyer denies it.
Unable to stop himself solving crimes, Monk starts calling in "anonymous" tips to the police about various crimes he reads about in the newspaper, until Stottlemeyer tells him to stop making him look like an idiot. He also bars Monk and Natalie from a recent murder scene that promises to be a media circus: the shooting of Judge Clarence Stanton, who was to preside over the upcoming trial of feared mobster Salvatore Lucarelli. Lucarelli is the obvious suspect in the case, but Monk notices a number of clues (before he is ejected) that the shooter was a woman.
The morning after Monk gets cut out of the SFPD budget, a handsome stranger appears at Monk's door: Nicholas Slade, a former SFPD Vice Detective, and now the owner of the Intertect detective agency. Now that Monk's contract with the SFPD has been ripped up, he wants to hire Monk, and Natalie as well. Monk hates change, but Natalie's eyes pop when she sees the salaries and benefits packages she and Monk are being offered, and won't let him say no.
Immediately, she and Monk are given a caseload, and a new assistant, Danielle Hossack. Given that the twenty-something Danielle, is a trilingual PhD with a black belt in psychology from Montreal, and a supermodel's face and figure to match, Natalie can't help but feel inadequate, but is amazed that Danielle treats her as an equal, even a superior, giving her full credit for her part in Monk's successes over the years. By the first day, Monk is on a roll, solving Intertect cases at an amazing rate (sometimes solving these cases just by looking at them).
When a second judge is killed, Monk and Natalie ironically are assigned a new client: Salvatore Lucarelli. Since the second judge, Alan Carnegie, was the designated alternate to hear Lucarelli's case, the mobster is looking guiltier than ever. When interviewed in the county jail, Lucarelli swears he had nothing to do with either judge's death, and poses the question: if he were guilty, why would he hire the best detective in the world to look into the case?
Monk examines the second crime scene, and sees clues that the same killer, a woman, was involved. Since few Mafia chiefs employ female assassins, Monk begins to suspect his client may be innocent. A few questions to the second judge's widow, and Monk is able to peg her as the killer. As unhappy as he is with Monk's presence, Stottlemeyer has too much faith in his judgment, and arrests the woman.
After the arrest, Stottlemeyer calls Monk and Natalie up to Mill Valley, where Bill Peschel has been found floating facedown in his swimming pool, dead. Stottlemeyer asks Natalie to come along and help him console Carol. Monk tags along, and views the crime scene: Bill apparently climbed onto a chair to jump over his fence and into the pool; given his mental state, it could have been an accident, or else suicide, though there is a slight chance that it might be homicide.
By the next day, Natalie becomes concerned when Monk starts losing sleep, and warns Danielle to not send any more files to Monk.
That evening, Monk and Natalie are invited to Bill's wake, being held at the house. Also in attendance is Paul Braddock, who also received tips from Bill before he quit. Braddock goads Stottlemeyer, calling him a failure as a detective leaning on Monk as a crutch. Stottlemeyer keeps his cool, and stands his ground, saying that he's still Captain, and that makes Braddock the bigger loser. Braddock loses his temper and throws a punch at Stottlemeyer, leading to a fight, and Stottlemeyer landing a few good blows on Braddock, before it is broken up. But in the scuffle, Monk notices a detail that he also remembered from the day before: Bill's feet were clean, meaning he didn't jump into the pool, he was thrown in – meaning he was murdered.
The crime scene is a loss, forensically, but that doesn't stop Monk. The problem is, there is no shortage of suspects when it comes to motive. Bill's considerable savings, coupled with a $1-million life insurance policy, are plenty of motive for his son-in-law, Phil Atwater, who recently lost his job and is hiding it from Carol; nor would Monk rule out Carol herself. Then again, Bill's information sent a lot of crooks to jail, though it is a mystery why one of them would wait ten years to get revenge.
When another cart of files shows up at Monk's apartment, an enraged Natalie confronts Slade for overloading Monk with work. He promises to ease off, once Monk's successes have generated some more positive publicity for the company.
Slade reprimands Monk, saying that Intertect has not been hired to investigate Peschel's death, and he doesn't want company resources wasted. Natalie pretends to agree, but secretly recruits Danielle to access as much information she can about Peschel's past snitching.
Elsewhere, Paul Braddock is found strangled to death in his hotel room. Because of the recent fight, Stottlemeyer recuses himself and orders Randy to lead the investigation. Randy takes the investigation and quickly uncovers some terrible evidence that links Stottlemeyer to the crime scene: Braddock was strangled with a tie identical to one Stottlemeyer wears; Stottlemeyer admits he was at the hotel that night, but not in Braddock's room, though no witness can confirm that; and Stottlemeyer's fingerprints and DNA are pulled off fragments of a glass that shattered on the floor, apparently in a fight. Randy has no choice but to place his captain under arrest.
Meanwhile, Monk is still investigating Peschel's murder. One detail has been bothering both him and Natalie: his money. His bar was a dive, but he sold it for a comfortable amount and, at the same time, made a killing with a stock investment in the now-famous social networking website, InTouchSpace.com., just before the stock took off.
The company's owner, Steve Wurzel disappeared mysteriously and has been presumed dead for years, but his widow, Linda, is still alive. As these facts are uncovered, Natalie begins to feel a "tickle" of some kind, feeling that there is something there. But Monk does not, leading Natalie to doubt her own instincts.
Then Stottlemeyer calls Monk from jail, asking for his help. To Natalie's shock, Monk appears to have no trouble believing that Stottlemeyer is guilty, but she twists his arm, and Randy's, to get them access to the crime scene. Once there, Monk notices a few details and realizes that the broken glass was planted, meaning Stottlemeyer is being framed.
They return and interview Stottlemeyer again. His theory is that Braddock was the real target, and he's just the fall guy. Peschel is the likely connection, since Braddock also busted crooks based on his information. It's also known that Nick Slade also busted crooks based on Peschel's tips.
Unusually, Natalie takes the lead in suggesting that Linda Wurzel is a likely lead, based on her "tickle." Humoring her, Monk goes with her to interview Wurzel, while she is getting a beauty treatment in Chinatown. Wurzel denies knowing anything about Peschel or Braddock's death, but confirms another interesting detail: it was her real estate agency that bought Bill Peschel's bar ten years ago, though it was another good decade before the property was actually re-developed.
As they are leaving, Monk remembers Wurzel mentioning a passing acquaintance with Nick Slade, and Natalie mentions that Slade also bought some InTouchSpace.com stock. With that Monk, solves the case. But, unusually, he tells Natalie that so has she, and lets her work it out for herself.
To her astonishment, she realizes he's right; her thoughts may not be as fast or as orderly as Monk's, but after a few minutes' hard thinking, she arrives at the same conclusion and gives the summation.
Here's What Happened
Ten years ago, Linda Wurzel went to Peschel's bar, looking for someone who would agree to kill her husband. Peschel passed the tip to Slade, who was still a Vice cop at the time. But instead of arresting her, Slade decided to take the job. He murdered Wurzel, and Linda paid handsome amounts to both Slade and Peschel, including a large amount of company stock.
Linda inherited her husband's fortune, Peschel retired to live the good life in Florida, and Slade opened his detective agency. Everybody was happy... until ten years later, when a half-senile Peschel moved back to San Francisco and "re-opened" his bar, repeating ten-year-old tips to his old contacts, including Braddock and Stottlemeyer. Slade couldn't take the chance that either of them would hear something that connected him to Wurzel's death. So he killed Peschel and Braddock, and framed Stottlemeyer to shift the blame and get him out of circulation. He also made sure to hire Monk and overload him with cases, to keep Monk's mind off Peschel's murder.
It almost worked - as witnessed by Monk's earlier confusion and belief that Stottlemyer was guilty - except that Natalie was there to steady him, because her own instincts told her where to look. For Natalie, it is a revelation: being Monk's assistant is what she was meant for.
The problem is, there's no way to prove it: no evidence linking Slade or Linda to any of the crimes; she can't implicate him without exposing herself, and vice-versa.
Their only option is to tail both Slade and Wurzel, and hope they catch a break. They enlist Danielle's help, and get lucky: Wurzel and Slade meet in an empty warehouse, and Slade prepares to kill Linda, but the three detectives confront them.
Danielle tackles Slade, allowing Natalie to grab his gun, but a stand-off develops, with Slade using Danielle as a shield and threatening to break her neck. Cool as ice, Natalie points his gun, warning him she'll shoot regardless if he doesn't release Danielle. Slade cracks, and does so, but almost immediately regains the initiative. There still isn't any evidence, and Linda, now that she's been reprieved, is hardly likely to confess to her own crimes to implicate him. However, Natalie and Danielle smugly inform Slade and Linda that their cell phones have been on, recording everything they said. Crestfallen, Slade and Linda surrender.
Stottlemeyer is exonerated. In a short time, the recording of Natalie's face-off with Slade is popular listening around the station (though Julie briefly drops her tough-teenager front and tearfully berates her mother for almost getting herself killed).
Stottlemeyer has good news on several fronts: both Slade and Wurzel are tripping over each other to confess to everything, each hoping to cut the better deal and avoid death row. On another front, Stottlemeyer's false arrest has been embarrassing enough for the chief to restore Stottlemeyer's budget, and Monk's contract.
Monk is the first to welcome Stottlemeyer back into his office - freshly scrubbed, and with a brand-new Diaper Genie in place.
Characters from the television show
- Adrian Monk
- Natalie Teeger
- Dr. Neven Bell
- Captain Leland Stottlemeyer
- Lieutenant Randy Disher
- Julie Teeger
- Salvatore Lucarelli
- Nicholas Slade
- Danielle Hossack
- Paul Braddock
- Judge Clarence Stanton
- Judge Alan Carnegie
- Rhonda Carnegie
- Detective Jack Lansdale
- Steve Wurzel (mentioned only)
- Linda Wurzel
- Bill Peschel
- Carol Atwater
- Professor Jeremiah Cowan
The book takes place sometime after the seventh season premiere, "Mr. Monk Buys a House," after Dr. Kroger's death and Monk's transfer to Dr. Bell. The previous two novels, Mr. Monk Goes to Germany and Mr. Monk is Miserable, while written after the death of Stanley Kamel (the actor who played Dr. Kroger), both took place before Dr. Kroger's death, as he appears in both novels.
Where exactly Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop falls in series continuity is open to interpretation, although given the time it was written, it would be most likely that it takes place during the time period in between the episode "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized" and before the episode "Mr. Monk and the Miracle". However, if this were the case, Natalie should either be driving an Audi A3 or a Nissan Sentra, and not a Buick Lucerne.
Background Information and Notes
- Salvatore Lucarelli previously appeared in the season 3 episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather," and Natalie's exposition briefly sketches the background of that episode. (A man came into a barbershop and gunned all five people down. Lucarelli and his nephew, "Fat" Tony, hired Monk and Sharona to find out who was responsible. That episode happens to have been co-written by Lee Goldberg).
- When Monk compares riding in an elevator to being buried alive, Natalie is skeptical, and Monk reminds her that he actually has been buried alive twice before - referring to "Mr. Monk vs. The Cobra" (when gravedigger Chris Downey buried Monk alive in a coffin) and "Mr. Monk and the Buried Treasure" (when Monk and Troy Kroger were buried by bank manager Steven Connolly in Troy's car at a quarry).
- While examining Braddock's hotel room, Natalie remembers a past crime scene in which Disher showed her the room through an infrared spectroscope, revealing all the otherwise-invisible bodily fluids on all the surfaces of the room. Rita Brownyn (Polly Draper) taught Monk how to use a similar device in the season 1 episode "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation."
- While aiming a gun at Slade, Natalie reminds him that she's killed before, referring to petty crook Brian Lemmon, whom Natalie stabbed in self-defense in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring."
- The county jail that Monk and Natalie visit three times during the story (the first time to see Salvatore Lucarelli, the other two to see an incarcerated Stottlemeyer) is said to be on 7th Street in San Francisco. This is in fact a real jail: the city has eight county jails, and Jail #2 is located at 425 7th Street.
- Whether by coincidence or not, the Professor Cowan subplot at the beginning seems to be reutilized in the episode "Mr. Monk's Favorite Show".
- The story bears many similarities to the episode "Mr. Monk Buys a House". In both, a senile old man is murdered in a way that looks like an accident. Both stories also involve murders in the present day that are in a way related to a historical and unsolved murder case. The later novel Mr. Monk in Trouble also was created with a similar plot - a series of present day murders are tied to a very famous crime committed decades ago.
References to real-life persons, locations, or events
It is mentioned that Monk and Natalie were cut loose from the SFPD due to a tight budget. Mentions of other cops having a cap on the number of overtime hours they can put in are also given. In early 2009, the SFPD faced a budget crisis, and the loss of overtime hours impacted many criminal investigations.
- It is implied that Mill Valley has their own police department. Actually, towns in Marin County are serviced by the Marin County Sheriff's Department.
- It is never explained where Slade got the disguise he used on the elevator before he killed Braddock.
References to other TV shows
- Some small references are made to the 1980s and 1990s show Murder, She Wrote. At one point, Natalie mentions that Cabot Cove, Maine has a higher murder-per-capita rate than several real-life crime magnets (namely Ciudad Juarez, South Central Los Angeles, and Beirut) combined.
- Less noticeable are the tributes to the first season of the 1970s crime show Mannix:
- Monk and Natalie are employed by Intertect, the private investigations agency that Joe Mannix used to work for. Considering that Mannix was set in Los Angeles, it could be said that both Mannix and Monk take place in the same universe, and that at some point before the late 1990s, Intertect relocated from Los Angeles to San Francisco, although Slade mentions that he was the founder of the agency, and he retired from the SFPD in the late 1990s to open Intertect.
- In one of the case files that Monk skims over and solves, it is revealed that the victim at the case involved is named Lou Wickersham. Lew Wickersham was Joe Mannix's boss at the Intertect agency. However, it is not explained if the unseen character in Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop is the same character or just happens to have a similar name.
- The Dirty Harry film franchise is heavily alluded to in this novel:
- Several times, Randy speaks with an accent similar to the one Clint Eastwood uses in the franchise, and he nicknames himself "Dirty" Randy. However, he also uses the nickname "Bullitt", a reference to Lt. Frank Bullitt in the film Bullitt.
- When Natalie is holding Nick Slade up at gunpoint, she reminds herself that she is a female "Dirty" Harry. Her 9-1-1 call and what she says throughout the scene lead Stottlemeyer to joke that he plans on starting to call her "Dirty" Natalie (much to Randy's disapproval).