Monday, July 19, 2010

Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out and Deception

7/18/10 If it's too hot to go to the beach, here's a quick look at a pair of quirky crime novels set in sunny California. Each features a long-running series character, unusual death scenes and many puzzling questions.

Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out by Lee Goldberg (Obsidian, $22.95) is the 10th book starring Adrian Monk, who appeared regularly on the now- canceled USA Network television series.

This highly entertaining tale takes place in San Francisco before the events of the show's final season It adroitly explores the obsessive-compulsive behavioral problems of the brilliant but flawed detective.

It's told from the viewpoint of Natalie Teeger, Monk's personal assistant, who deals with a lot of frustration and is trying to raise her teenaged daughter.

As usual, Monk is called in to help solve a peculiar case. Soon thereafter, he's laid off from assisting the police due to budget cutbacks.
He also discovers he's become a victim of a Ponzi scheme coordinated by Bob Seles, who handled his financial affairs.

Monk can't pay Natalie; with no money from the police department, they must seek other sources of income, often with hilarious results.

There are many other subplots as Monk loses his sole supply of acceptable bottled water and is evicted from his apartment. Meanwhile, other witnesses in Seles' case are murdered, and Monk can't stop trying to help Captain Stottlemeyer. Natalie comes up with a clever plan that may solve a variety of problems.

This is great fun if you were addicted to the popular television show - you don't even have to read others in the series to enjoy it.

Deception by bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine, $28) is his latest crime novel featuring psychologist Alex Delaware and Los Angeles Police Homicide Detective Milo Sturgis.

They're working on an investigation in which Elise Freeman, a young teacher at a prep school, was discovered lifeless in her apartment in a bathtub full of dry ice.

A DVD is discovered at the scene. Freeman accuses three other teachers of sustained abuse and sexual harassment. Of course, this isn't a simple open and shut case - particularly when another dead body is discovered.

This dialogue-driven tale is a solid, vivid police procedural. Kellerman fans won't be disappointed.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on July 18, 2010

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