San Francisco antique dealer Raymond Toliver reads aloud from an old, yellowing confession written by 19th century prospector Joshua Skinner. It describes how Skinner murdered his mining partner Gully Watson during the gold rush of 1849, built an enormous house on the site of the gold strike, then hid Watson's share of the mother lode -- a cache worth millions that has never been found to this day. Where is the gold? Stemple's letter asks. The answer is in my journals. As Toliver ponders aloud how anyone could murder their partner for a cache of gold, his own partner, Dalton Padron, bludgeons him to death with a sewing machine. A few days later, Monk is entreated by a very drunk Lieutenant Disher to look into the whirlwind nuptials of his unglamorous, 50-something mother, Maria, to a dark, mysterious and much younger antique dealer named Dalton Padron -- whom Disher doesn't trust.