Monk is certain a very attractive woman is innocent even though all the evidence seems to point to her. It does not help that he finds himself falling for her.
The episode starts out with Randy and his girlfriend calling for taxis but failing to get one they run across the street to get a cab. In the taxi, they are making out and then all of a sudden Randy's girlfriend notices they are not moving. She then sees the taxi driver and screams because he has been killed with some kind of necklace pin in his neck.
At the station the other detectives needle Randy for his failure to notice the dead cabbie. Randy responds he was in "date mode", not "cop mode". In the meantime Captain Stottlemeyer goes over the evidence and surmises the killer was a woman. The victim was stabbed with a hat pin and there were was a piece of paper with a design on it. Moreover a charm bracelet was found with which a suspect profile is developed, by Monk, Stottlemeyer and the other detectives while Randy as usual comes up with a ridiculous profile.
Police research sends Monk to an outreach center for refugees from the Eastern European nation of Zemenia. One of the center’s employees, a woman named Leyla Zlatavich, fits the charm bracelet profile perfectly. If that weren’t enough, the scrap of paper found at the scene is a match for Zemenian currency. Despite the preponderance of evidence, Monk insists that Leyla is innocent. Natalie suspects that Monk is attracted to Leyla, but Monk angrily denies it. However when he tries talking to her he loses his power of speech.
The police bring Leyla in for questioning, after which she pays a visit to Monk. Monk is nervous in Leyla’s presence; he obviously has a crush on this most beautiful of suspects. Leyla maintains her innocence and wants to hire Monk to clear her of the taxi driver’s death. Monk agrees to work for free, and the two meet for dinner later that night.
As Monk gets to know Leyla better, his fondness for her only grows stronger. She’s kind, intelligent, and courageous, and she seems to understand Monk. At one point she defends a homeless man from a bullying barber. When Monk confronts him, he intimidates him by telling him he did not want to know why he was kicked off the force. He then confesses privately to Leyla that it was nervous breakdown.
While they eat, Monk learns about the Butcher of Zemenia, Karsten Emerik, an international fugitive who was personally responsible for thousands of atrocities during the Zemenian civil war, including the murders of most of Leyla’s family back in her native land. At that point the head chef at the restaurant becomes furious at the mention of him. Monk as usual overreacts when the chef spits on the floor. Then Monk sees a picture of the Butcher and recognizes him as the murdered cab driver. This isn’t good news for Leyla because now she has a motive.
At the police station, Captain Stottlemeyer, Randy and the other detectives feel they have enough evidence to arrest Layla. She had means, motive, and no alibi, giving her opportunity. However Monk points out a few inconsistencies in the timeline. For one thing his last fare was at the airport. What was she doing there and how did she get there in the first place? The murder scene was three miles away from her house and why did she not kill him at the most likely place, the airport itself? However the other detectives feel along with the Captain and Randy that it is a "slam dunk". The motive was understandable but it was still murder. As Monk leaves Natalie tells him the other detectives feel he is obstructing the case and are planning to file a complaint with the DA about him.
Monk feels he has no choice but to tell Leyla he cannot see her anymore. When Monk goes to tell Leyla the news in person, a passing bus splashes mud on Monk’s pants. Leyla invites him back to her apartment to get cleaned up. Soon, Monk finds himself with his pants off, dancing romantically with his lovely host. Monk is torn between his feelings for Leyla and his sense of loyalty to his late wife, Trudy, but before things can get too intimate, there’s a knock on the door. It’s Captain Stottlemeyer, and he’s come to arrest Leyla. The captain and Randy are shocked to find Monk half-dressed in the apartment of a murder suspect. While they are scolding Monk they notice for the first time Monk had his wedding ring off. Just then the cops find a jewelry box with the same crest as on the murder weapon, the hat pin. When Layla sees it, she confesses to the crime, to Monk's disbelief.
The next day, Monk is in police headquarters listening to Leyla rehash the murder. According to Leyla, when she got into the cab, she recognized the driver as the Butcher of Zemenia, and she reacted by stabbing him to death with her hatpin. Given the Butcher’s evil deeds, her behavior is understandable, but constitutes murder nonetheless. Then, Monk notices something amidst Leyla’s belongings, given to him by the two smug detectives. There’s a personal letter to Leyla from her mother, and Monk finally understands who the real killer is.
Here's What Happened Edit
Arriving at the suburb of Little Zemenia, he after some awkward attempts to speak to the locals in Zemenian finds Mrs. Zlatavich, Layla's mother. He knew that when someone runs away in a strange land they go to someplace familiar. He realizes two things from the evidence. The date of the crime was Layla's birthday and the envelope showed her original address with a forwarding sticker from the USPS. Finding the mother, who was still fearful, Monk slowly makes her understand and she, in Zemenian, tells what transpired.
After she flew in to surprise her daughter for her birthday she took a cab to Algonquin Avenue, Layla's old street but the driver got the wrong address because she did not know her daughter had recently moved. When he turned to talk to her, she immediately recognized Emerik. All the anger and hate surged from her at that point because he murdered most of her family. She pulled out her hat pin and struck Emerik with it several times. Then she got out and ran, leaving the charm bracelet and murder weapon in her haste. When Layla saw the pin she realized it was her mother and took the blame for her.
Mrs. Zlatavich goes with Monk and Natalie to the station and confesses and has a tearful reunion with her daughter.
A highly saddened Layla asks Monk why he did it. Monk said it was to find the truth. He assures her because of the circumstances that it would be called involuntary manslaughter and she would have to do very little time. However when he asks if they could talk it over, Layla tells him to go back to his wife. When Monk asks if she said "wife" or "life", she says both and he watches her walk away.
- Captain Stottlemeyer mentions that they got a murder conviction "from the breath in the beach ball". He was referring to the case from "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert."
- Zemenia is a fictional country but it is inferred to be part of the former Yugoslavia. The fighting there is reminiscent of the actual war in the 1990's in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.
- The flag of Zemenia is pretty much a copy of the Croatian flag with different colors and coat of arms.
- Joanna Pacuła, who plays Layla, is Polish, she speaks Polish in the episode. The song that woman sings in the restaurant is in Russian language. Other Zemenians also speak Russian in the episode.
- The detectives in this case are as much blinded by tunnel vision in this episode as was Monk to some respect, albeit in different viewpoints. Since Zemenian currency was found in the cab and the victim picked up his last fare at the airport, so why didn't they check for incoming flights from that country and obtain passenger lists (like they apparently do in "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend")?
- Moreover international travelers' passport entries are recorded - even before 9/11, so it would have been very easy to check all international flights that arrived at SFO that day and look for any passenger who had a Zemenian passport or a Zemenia passport stamp --this because even if there is an airline that flies nonstops between Zemenia and SFO, whether that be United Airlines (largest carrier at SFO) or whatever Zemenia's airline is, there's always the possibility that the passenger may have connected to travel to San Francisco by changing flights at a European airport like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris - Charles de Gaulle, London - Heathrow, Rome, or Zurich.
- One wonders why the police does not look for (and find) any DNA evidence and/or fingerprints in the taxi. Those could help them determine whether Layla had been in the taxi, and may even allow them to determine that instead, a close relative had taken the taxi.