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Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse Mass Market Paperback – January 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Monk (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451217292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451217295
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lee Goldberg has written episodes for the Monk television series, as well as many other programs. He is a two-time Edgar Award nominee and the author of the acclaimed Diagnosis Murder novels, based on the TV series for which he was a writer and executive producer.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Mr. Monk and the Termites

My name is Natalie Teeger. You’ve never heard of me, and that’s okay, because the fact is I’m nobody special. By that I mean I’m not famous. I haven’t done anything or accomplished something that you’d recognize me for.  I’m just another anonymous shopper pushing her cart down the aisle at Wal-Mart.

Of course, I had bigger things planned for myself. When I was nine I dreamed of being one of Charlie’s Angels. It wasn’t because I wanted to fight crime or run around braless—I was looking forward to the day I’d fill out enough to wear one. Sadly, I’m still waiting. I admired the Angels because they were strong, independent, and had a sassy attitude. Most of all, I liked how those women took care of themselves.

In that way, I guess my dream came true, though not quite the way I expected. I’ve made a profession out of taking care of myself, my twelve-year-old daughter, Julie, and one other person: Adrian Monk.

You haven’t heard of me, but if you live in San Francisco and you watch the news or read the paper, you’ve probably heard of Monk, because he is famous. He’s a brilliant detective who solves murders that have baffled the police, which amazes me, since he is utterly incapable of handling the simplest aspects of day-to-day life. If that’s the price of genius, them I’m glad I’m not one.

Usually taking care of Monk is just a day job, but that changed the week termites were found in his apartment building. By Monk, of course. He spotted a pinprick-sized hole in a piece of siding and knew it was fresh. He knew because he keeps track of all the irregularities in the siding.

When I asked him why he does that, he looked at me quizzically and said, “Doesn’t everybody?”

That’s Monk for you.  

Since Monk’s building was going to be tented and fumigated, his landlord told him he’d have to stay with friends or go to a hotel for a couple of days. That was a problem, because the only friends Monk has are Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer and Lt. Randy Disher of the San Francisco Police Department and me. But I’m not really his friend so much as I am his employee, and, considering how little he pays me to drive him around and run his errands, I’m barely that.

I went to Stottlemeyer first, since he used to be Monk’s partner on the force, and asked if he’d take him in. But Stottlemeyer said his wife would leave him if he brought Monk home. Stottlemeyer said he’d leave, too, if Monk showed up. I went to Disher next, but he lives in a one-bedroom apartment, so there wasn’t room for another person, though I have a feeling he would have found some room if it were me who needed a place to stay. Or any other woman under the age of thirty with a pulse.

So Monk and I started to look for a hotel. That wouldn’t be a big deal for most people, but Adrian Monk isn’t like most people. Look at how he dresses. 

He wears his shirts buttoned up to the neck. They have to be 100 percent cotton, off-white, with exactly eight buttons, a size-sixteen neck and a thirty-two sleeve. All even numbers. Make a note of that; it’s important.

His pants are pleated and cuffed, with eight belt loops (most pants have seven, so his have to be specially tailored), a thirty-four waist, and thirty-four length, but after the pantlegs are cuffed, the inseam is thirty-two. His shoes, all twelve identical pairs, are brown and a size ten. More even numbers. It’s no accident or coincidence. This stuff really matters to him.

He’s obviously got an obsessive-compulsive disorder of some kind.  I don’t know exactly what kind because I’m not a nurse, like his previous assistant, Sharona, who left him abruptly to remarry her ex-husband (who, I hear, wasn’t such a great guy, but after working with Monk for a short time, I understand why that wouldn’t really matter. If I had an ex-husband I could return to, I would).

I have no professional qualifications whatsoever. My last job before this one was bartending, but I’ve also worked as a waitress, yoga instructor, housesitter, and blackjack dealer, among other things. But I know from talking to Stottlemeyer that Monk wasn’t always so bad. Monk’s condition became a lot worse after his wife was murdered a few years ago.

I can truly sympathize with that. My husband, Mitch, a fighter pilot, was killed in Kosovo, and I went kind of nuts for a long time myself. Not Monk nuts, of course—normal nuts.

Maybe that’s why Monk and I get along better than anybody (particularly me) ever thought we would. Sure, he irritates me, but I know a lot of his peculiarities come from a deep and unrelenting heartbreak that nobody, and I mean nobody, should ever have to go through.

So I cut him a lot of slack, but even I have my limits.

Which brings me back to finding a hotel room for Monk. To begin with, we could look only at four-star hotels, because four is an even number, and a place with only two stars couldn’t possibly meet Monk’s standard of cleanliness. He wouldn’t put his dog in a two-star hotel—if he had a dog, which he doesn’t, and never would, because dogs are animals who lick themselves and drink out of toilets. 
The first place we went to on that rainy Friday was the Belmont in Union Square, one of the finest hotels in San Francisco.

Monk insisted on visiting every vacant room the grand old Belmont had before deciding which one to occupy. He looked only at even-numbered rooms on even-numbered floors, of course. Although the rooms were identically furnished and laid out the same way on every floor, he found something wrong with each one. For instance, one room didn’t feel symmetrical enough. Another room was too symmetrical. One had no symmetry at all.

All the bathrooms were decorated with some expensive floral wallpaper from Italy. But if the strips of wallpaper didn’t line up just right, if the flowers and their stems didn’t match up exactly on either side of the cut, Monk declared the room uninhabitable.

By the tenth room, the hotel manager was guzzling little bottles of vodka from the minibar, and I was tempted to join him. Monk was on his knees, examining the wallpaper under the bathroom counter, wallpaper that nobody would ever see unless they were on their knees under the bathroom counter, and pointing out “a critical mismatch,” and that’s when I cracked. I couldn’t take it anymore and I did something I never would have done if I hadn’t been under extreme emotional and mental duress.

I told Monk he could stay with us.

I said it just to end my immediate suffering, not realizing in that instant of profound weakness the full, horrific ramifications of my actions. But before I could take it back, Monk immediately accepted my invitation, and the hotel manager nearly kissed me in gratitude.

“But I don’t want to hear any complaints about how my house is arranged or how dirty you think it is or how many  ‘critical mismatches’ there are,” I said to Monk as we started down the stairs to the lobby.

“I’m sure it’s perfect,” Monk said.

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Mr. Monk. You’re starting already.”

He looked at me blankly. “All I said was that I’m sure it’s perfect. Most people would take that as the sincere compliment it was meant to be.”

“But most people don’t mean ‘perfect’ when they say ‘perfect.’” 

“Of course they do,” Monk said.

“No, they mean pleasant, or nice, or comfortable. They don’t actually mean perfect in the sense that everything will be, well, perfect. You do.”

“Give me some credit.” Monk shook his head.

I gaped at him in disbelief. 

“You wouldn’t stay in that hotel room we just saw because the floral pattern of the wallpaper didn’t match under the sink.”

“That’s different,” he said. “That was a safety issue.”

“How could that possibly be a safety issue?” I said.

“It reveals shoddy craftsmanship. If they were that haphazard with wallpaper, imagine what the rest of the construction work was like,” Monk said. “I bet a mild earthquake is all it would take to bring this entire building down.”

“The building is going to fall because the wallpaper doesn’t match up?”

“This place should be condemned.”

We reached the lobby and Monk stood still.

“What?” I said.

“We should warn the others,” Monk said.

“What others?” I asked.

“The hotel guests,” Monk said. “They should be informed of the situation.”

“That the wallpaper doesn’t match,” I said.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “I’ll call them later.”

I didn’t bother arguing with him. Frankly I was just relieved to get out of the hotel without stumbling over a dead body. I know that sounds ridiculous, but when you’re with Adrian Monk, corpses have a way of turning up all over the place. But, as I would soon find out, it was only a temporary reprieve.

* * * * * *

Monk lived in a Deco-style apartment building on Pine, a twilight zone of affordability that straddled the northernmost edge of the Western District, with its upper-middle-class families, and the southwest corner of Pacific Heights, with its old money, elaborately ornate Victorians and ...

More About the Author

Lee Goldberg is an ex-Navy SEAL, freelance Sexual Surrogate and a professional Pierce Brosnan impersonator.

Okay, that's not true. But he wants this biography to be really exciting, so pay attention. If things bog down, I've been instructed to add a car chase or some explicit sex.

Here's the real story. Lee Goldberg writes books and television shows.

His mother wanted him to be a doctor, and his grandfather wanted him to go into the family furniture business. Instead, he put himself through UCLA as a freelance journalist, writing for such publications as American Film, Starlog, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times Syndicate, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle (He also wrote erotic letters to the editor for Playgirl at $25-a-letter, but he doesn't tell people about that, he just likes to boast about those "tiffany" credits).

He published his first book ".357 Vigilante" (as "Ian Ludlow," so he'd be on the shelf next to Robert Ludlum) while he was still a UCLA student. The West Coast Review of Books called his debut "as stunning as the report of a .357 Magnum, a dynamic premiere effort," singling the book out as "The Best New Paperback Series" of the year. Naturally, the publisher promptly went bankrupt and he never saw a dime in royalties. (But the books are available on the Kindle as "The Jury Series")

Welcome to publishing, Lee.

His subsequent books include the non-fiction books "Successful Television Writing" and "Unsold Television Pilots" ("The Best Bathroom Reading Ever!" San Francisco Chronicle) as well as the novels "My Gun Has Bullets" ("It will make you cackle like a sitcom laugh track," Entertainment Weekly), "Dead Space" ("Outrageously entertaining," Kirkus Reviews), "Watch Me Die" ("as dark and twisted as anything Hammet or Chandler ever dreamed up," Kirkus Reviews).

"Take me now," she moaned, "you hot writer stud."

She tore off her clothes and tackled him onto the floor, unable to control her raging lust. Nothing excited her more than being around a writer with a big list of books.

Got your attention again? Good. I don't know about you, but I was starting to nod off. Where was I? Oh yes...

Goldberg broke into television with a freelance script sale to "Spenser: For Hire." Since then, his TV writing & producing credits have covered a wide variety of genres, including sci-fi (SeaQuest), cop shows (Hunter, The Glades), martial arts (Martial Law), whodunits (Diagnosis Murder, Nero Wolfe), the occult (She-Wolf of London), kid's shows (R.L. Stine's The Nightmare Room), T&A (Baywatch), comedy (Monk) and utter crap (The Highwayman). His TV work has earned him two Edgar Award nominations from the Mystery Writers of America.

His two careers, novelist and TV writer, merged when he began writing the "Diagnosis Murder" series of original novels, based on the hit CBS TV mystery that he also wrote and produced, and later wrote the 15 bestselling novels based on "Monk," another show that he worked on. He's also the co-creator of Amazon's "The Dead Man" series of monthly horror novellas and the author of the crime thriller "King City." Most recently, he teamed up with Janet Evanovich to write the New York Times bestselling books "The Heist" and "Pros & Cons."

But perhaps he's best known for his pioneering work mapping the human genome and negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Goldberg lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his daughter and still sleeps in "Man From UNCLE" pajamas.

Customer Reviews

It's a fast paced, easy fun read.
Cynthia L. Clark
Read the book to get a lot of insight into Monk's new assistant Natalie, and come to know and like her daughter a lot better.
I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series.
L. Dunkle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love the Adrian Monk TV show series with Tony Shaloub. I also love ready mystery stories. I was thrilled to see that a book series was beginning that involved this combination. I was very, very eager to enjoy it. I have to be honest and say that I was really disappointed when I was done. I handed the book to my boyfriend without giving him any indication of what I felt. When he was also very disappointed, I know it wasn't just a quirk. It just isn't a great translation of the stellar TV show.

The story is written from the point of view of Monk's assistant, Natalie. Monk's home is being fumigated, so Monk is living with Natalie for the time being. Natalie's daughter is sad because of the murder of a dalmatian at the nearby firehouse. Monk is enlisted to figure this out. Soon there are a few other murders, and Monk of course ties them all together and solves the case.

I normally am thrilled by a "female voice" in a book, and as I've said, I really enjoy the Monk character. On page 2 there was a typo, which of course Monk would have hated. I let it pass. After all, we're only 2 pages into the book. On page 3 is a HUGE issue - Stottlemeyer says his wife would leave him if Monk stayed with them. News flash - Stottlemeyer's wife HAS left him. This book was released in January 2006, and I read it in the first days of March 2006. It was a really "icky" feeling to have that sort of joke made. Surely the author was told what the upcoming series was going to hold.

On through the story we move. I've always admired Natalie in the TV show as being a reasonably honest, caring single mother with good morals. In this book she is completely inane. She is VERY obsessed with breast size and comments on them repeatedly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard Yokley on January 3, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you like 'Monk' the TV series, you will love this book. Lee writes the books ('Diagnosis Murder' included)with all of the guidelines of the series in mind and I am sure he adds things and has a little more fun expanding on some situations. Although not written from Monk's point of view, Lee writes from his assistants point of view and you will enjoy how he pulls off the twist, and does so brilliantly. It gives a different and interesting insight into the Monk character.

This first of the Monk novels will make readers clamor for more MONK.

And if you have never seen the series, you will still love the book.

Richard Yokley
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book lover on September 6, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so excited to discover these books, and immediately bought one for my Kindle. The story line is good, and if you've seen all the episodes of Monk on tv, as I have, you can readily hear the conversations and tone of voices. But without that as a mental background, it is very juvenile and simplistic writing. Gets a bit tiring and disappointing to have Natalie continually ogling any hot guy who happens by, acting coy and flirty, making snide comments, etc. It seems to be more of a "teen read" kind of book than what I was hoping for. Dang!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Read the book to get a lot of insight into Monk's new assistant Natalie, and come to know and like her daughter a lot better. Natalie extends her place as Adrian's Dr. Watson by acting as the chronicler. For this reason, we get a lot more of her thoughts than we do in the show. I like this Natalie better because I understand her better.

We also get to see Monk follow his trash to Zone 9, the zone for very clean trash.

But with this, the delicate timing and endearing edge that Tony adds to Adrian is missing, and the pacing of the book also feels a bit flat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Dobson on February 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book surprised me. Although I am a voracious reader I've seldom found books based upon movies and television series to be worth the time but this one definitely is. I'll let others tell you about the plot, it doesn't really matter anyway for this is part of the story of that uniquely beguiling, frustrating, indescribable man called Monk. The television show rides firmly and happily on he back of the marvelous Tony Shaloub's award winning portrayal of a man with a mission to sanitize and organize San Francisco, before reading this book I couldn't imagine anyone successfully translating Monk to the printed page but Mr. Goldberg certainly has. His choice of Natalie as the narrator makes all the difference, her energy, humor, humility and insight works much better then could any other character in the series at bringing Monk to life. Trust me, this book works, it's tons of fun and true to the character.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on October 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback

October 19, 2006

Amazon Rating 4/5 stars

I don't know why I enjoy these books about that wonderful character Monk; but then again I think I do. I enjoy reading about this obsessive-compulsive detective and how he solves his cases each and every time. I don't watch the series, (I know I should) so I thought I'd read the books instead. This is the first in the series (there are two so far, with the third coming out in January, I think). I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the second one, which I read earlier this summer.

In MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE, Monk's apartment building is being fumigated so he is now staying with his assistant Natalie. In the mean time, her daughter is upset because Sparky, the firehouse dog, was found murdered - yes, murdered. She asks Monk if he can solve the murder of Sparky and he agrees to do it. While that mystery is being solved, there is also a building fire that kills an old lady, who happened to live in a house that was part of a group of homes being bought out by a large corporation, but she refused to sell. There are a lot of suspects, most of whom who would benefit if she was out of the way, so the rest of the homeowners could move on with the money they received for their own houses. It looked awfully suspicious.

These books are guilty pleasures. Fun to read, and I wasn't caught up in the "accuracy" to the series as I think some readers may be, for those who watch the series on television faithfully. Taking this book series for what it is, I think they are fun and worth giving a 4-star rating.
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