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Monk Fun Page Review: Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii
By Lee Goldberg
294 Pages
ISBN 0451219007
Price: $6.99
Release Date: July 1, 2006

Hawaii Cover

Sung to the tune of the theme from Hawaii Five-0 —
If you get in trouble, call the Monk, that's me.
If you find a dead body, I'm the guy to see-eee
Stop! In the name of the law.
Stop! Murder sticks in my craw.
I'll find the killer. Call the Monk that's me....

Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii is filled with inspired goofiness, rich characterizations, an intricate mystery and a lot of fun. You probably won't want to put it down until it's over and that's way too soon.

Unwilling to stay home alone, Monk tags along on Natalie's vacation, with a little help from Dr. Kroger's magic "Dioxynl" pills, which make the long flight tolerable for Monk and intolerable for Natalie.

"Everything should be dry-roasted," he proclaimed to one and all. "Has anybody ever tried dry-roasted chicken? Or dry-roasted granola? The possibilities are limitless!"

I thought the flight would never end.

(Natalie doesn't realize how lucky she is that no one was actually murdered on the plane.)

Once the effects of the medication have worn off Monk discovers that Hawaii is not his idea of paradise and Natalie learns that a vacation with Monk is no vacation. Quicker than you can say Prince of Darkness, Monk spoils a wedding and a fellow hotel guest falls victim to the Monk curse. ("Stop calling me the Prince of Darkness. That's how rumors get started.") Even though the local police have concluded she was accidentally killed by a falling coconut, Monk knows she was murdered. All the clues and a TV psychic point to her philandering young husband, but Monk realizes there's more to it.

Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii is the second Monk novel by Lee Goldberg. This one is also told from the perspective of Monk's assistant Natalie Teeger. In fact the author has settled so comfortably into her voice you almost expect to see her name on the cover. This is the kinder, gentler Natalie she's grown to be on the show. This is the Natalie I'd like to spend more time with: funny, strong, loving and vulnerable.

In Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse having the story told from her viewpoint created a bit of a barrier between Monk and the reader, which required some adjustment from long time Monk fans. However, in this novel, by removing them from their natural habitat we get a deeper exploration of their relationship and a better understanding of Adrian Monk through Natalie's eyes.

The change of scenery also means that the novel is virtually SFPD free. On Kauai, the character of Lt. Ben Kealoha fills the gap left by Stottlemeyer and Disher. This isn't the first time Lt. Kealoha has dealt with a crazy haole [foreigner]. He was introduced in the Diagnosis Murder novel The Death Merchant by Lee Goldberg, where Dr. Mark Sloan takes a Hawaiian vacation with similarly predictable results.

"Almost too great," Monk said. "I never trust people with great alibis. Or people who drink soda directly from the can. Or people who pierce any part of their bodies."

"I have pierced ears," I said.

"So do I," Kealoha said. ""Nipples, too"

I'd definitely like to know more about Kealoha. Maybe he can visit Monk in San Francisco one day.

On my one and only visit to Hawaii the luau was the only disappointing part. It rained, so we had it indoors. On the other hand, Monk and Natalie's luau absolutely rocked, but I won't spoil it for you by describing the entree.

This book marks the first time that Summit NJ has been immortalized in literature. At least I'm betting it's the first time. The mention in the book is a nod to the Monk writing staff who toil in Summit rather than in Los Angeles where most television writers are found. Reportedly they have a lot more fun.

It's a solid mystery and I found the solution particularly satisfying. No doubt fans will catch a few errors, but I didn't notice any.... except that Monk and Natalie are flying out of LAX and Monk's still eating cereal (but I didn't notice any mention of milk: he could be eating it dry.) By and large though, it's very consistent with the series and yet charmingly enhanced by Natalie's voice.

Lee Goldberg once said,"I want to capture the feel of the series, but also I want these books to stand on their own. They’re original novels. They’re not based on episodes. So I want them to almost read as if they’re the books the TV series is based on." I think that's what he's achieved with Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii.

Each Monk season consists of only sixteen episodes a year, which allows the writers and cast to deliver consistent quality, but a loyal fan is left wanting more. A couple of Monk novels a year sure helps. I'm not sure how that equation will work if they keep making episodes based on the novels (as with upcoming episode Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing based on Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse.) However, I'm pretty sure they can't afford to film in Hawaii.

The novel ends with an excerpt from Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu which will be released early next year. Looks like San Francisco has a new fictional Mayor in Blue Flu and he shares the last name of a favorite actor of mine, Smitrovich. Bill Smitrovich played Inspector Cramer in A&E's Nero Wolfe, for which Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin wrote. Coincidence? I'm thinking, not.

"Open your eyes, woman. There are lizards on the wall. This is a full-wipe situation." — Adrian Monk

Monk: The Novel


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