When author John Ricca wrote his controversial tell-all biography of deceased Kung Fu movie star Sonny Chow, he knew some people wouldn't be happy. What he hadn't counted on was being killed for writing it - let alone by Sonny Chow himself. Baffled by the idea that someone who has been dead for six years could have committed a murder, Captain Stottlemeyer calls Monk on the case.
Every aspect of the investigation points to Sonny Chow: the victim was killed with the same nun-chuks Chow used, the surveillance footage shows someone who looks like Chow at the scene, a DNA test confirms that Sonny Chow's hair was found on the victim, and many rumors surrounding Chow's own death suggest that it was faked and that he is in fact still alive. To shed some light on the matter, Monk and Natalie pay a visit to Sonny's old teacher, Master Zee, who assures them that Sonny Chow is indeed dead.
Still baffled, and with no other option, Stottlemeyer decides to dig up Sonny Chow's coffin and finally put an end to the mystery. Once the casket is exhumed, the medical examiners conclude that the body is indeed that of Sonny Chow. Somebody tried to frame the deceased movie star - but who? Monk and Natalie head to the Sonny Chow museum to try to find out.
At the museum, Monk discovers that a hairbrush that belonged to Chow is missing, which explains how Chow's hair showed up at the crime scene. Then Monk makes a further connection: he remembers that grave digger Chris Downey, who Monk had met earlier, had the same hand stamp that the museum uses.
Monk rushes back to the cemetery and puts it all together: it was Chris Downey who framed Sonny Chow! Downey had stashed some jewelry in Chow's casket years ago and needed a way to exhume the coffin and retrieve his hidden treasure. Downey's solution? Make it look like Sonny Chow was still alive and had committed a murder. Unfortunately, before Monk has a chance to tell anyone, Downey sneaks up on Monk, knocks him out, and buries him alive!
When Natalie discovers what has happened, she calls Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher, who rush to the cemetery. They try to shake an answer out of Downey, but before he can tell them where he's buried Monk, he dies of a heart attack. Everyone searches desperately while Monk runs low on air and sanity. Only a vision of his beloved wife Trudy keeps Monk from completely losing it. Finally, Stottlemeyer notices a cut power line that indicates Monk's location, and the authorities are able to dig up Monk just in the nick of time.
A bizarre case, but solved nonetheless by the amazing Adrian Monk.