In 1962 there was a train robbery in Trouble, California. The stolen gold was never recovered. Now there's been a murder in Trouble's museum dedicated to the railroad and the gold-mining era. Monk is called in to help solve the murder, but naturally he has to solve the old case, too. Crimes must be solved. Things must be symmetrical.
As usual in the Monk books, there are plenty of other crimes along the way. Not as usual, however, is that many of them are solved not by the current Mr. Monk but by a man who lived in Trouble during the gold rush days, an assayer named Artemis Monk, who has all the same quirks as the present-day Monk, including the ability to solve crimes. The current Monk's assistant, Natalie, reads all about the previous Monk in a book written by his assistant.
(Digression: One of the stories she reads has already appeared in EQMM, and I mention it in my column on short stories in Mystery Scene. You do read my column in Mystery Scene, don't you?)
One of the stories in the book Natalie reads turns out to be crucial to finding the stolen gold and to uncovering the killer of the museum guard.
The relationship between Monk and Natalie has always been as interesting to me as the mystery plots in these novels, and it takes a new and intriguing turn in this installment. I'm looking forward to seeing what develops in future books.
Mr. Monk in Trouble is another fine, hilarious entry in Lee Goldberg's series, and I read it with a smile on my face, except for the times I laughed out loud. I recommend it to fans of the TV series, and to anybody else. And I would say that even if a certain blogger that we all know and love (namely me) weren't tuckerized in the book. In fact, you'll run across many familiar names of crime and western writers if you read Mr. Monk in Trouble, and there are some other in-jokes that I won't spoil for you. Check it out.