Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg

July 7, 2013

Plot summary (from the publisher): Some people think Hawaii is paradise. But Monk knows that danger—like dirt—lurks everywhere. Look at Helen Gruber, the rich tourist who took a fatal blow from a coconut. The police say it fell from a tree, but Monk suspects otherwise. His assistant, Natalie, isn’t exactly thrilled about Monk’s latest investigation. It was bad enough that Monk followed her on vacation, and now it looks as though the vacation is over….

Smooth-talking TV psychic Dylan Swift is on the island and claims to have a message from beyond—from Helen Gruber. Monk has his doubts about Swift’s credibility. But finding the killer and proving Swift a fraud—all while coping with geckos and the horror of unsynchronized ceiling fans—may prove a tough coconut to crack….

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • Monk’s quirks (in this case, insisting on a “fresh off the boat” rental car and separate hotel accommodations where all the towels were rolled) had a direct impact on his ability to solve the crimes he encountered. That’s one of the things I love about Monk the TV show. He’s a great detective because of his oddities, as has been proven time and time again.
  • I liked that Natalie showed some lingering vulnerability when it came to Mitch. On the show, he’s rarely mentioned (not nearly to the same degree as Trudy, at any rate) so it’s sometimes easy to forget that she’s a widow (rather than, say, just divorced).
  • There were many subplots in this one (the best friend’s wedding, the burglaries, Helen Gruber’s murder, Dylan Swift’s contact with the dead, the damaged/stolen rental cars), which made the story move right along with few lulls.

Disliked:

  • I don’t like the anti-Monk persona that appears whenever Adrian medicates himself. This happened once on the TV show (where it was funny for a couple of scenes, but got old before the episode ended) and happened here again so Monk could get on a plane and follow Natalie to Hawaii. All I could envision during these passages in the book was the Jason Alexander character from the S4 premiere. I don’t want to see Monk like that!
  • I don’t even think it’s remotely possible that TV Monk could be competent at golf, so that scene felt way, WAY off to me.
  • Natalie still doesn’t seem like the Natalie of the TV show to me. Her dialogue was more in line this time around, but her inner monologue still seems off. Would Traylor Howard’s Natalie Teeger deliberately parade around in a bikini with the intention of making Mr. Monk uncomfortable? I don’t think so. Would the TV version of Natalie wonder about her “button” that releases multiple orgasms? Perhaps…but at least she would do that off screen without giving the viewer any hint of what’s happening!
  • There were far too many detailed descriptions of Hawaiian landscapes and scenery. I know some of that is to be expected when a book takes you “on location,” but in this one it really seemed as though the author were trying to justify his expenses or something.
  • There were only a couple of brief scenes with the Captain and Randy (obviously they stayed in SF). I missed the humor that those two usually provide.
  • The Hawaiian detective didn’t do much for me. He was kind of annoying, so part of me didn’t even want Monk to help him out.

Rating:

I didn’t enjoy Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii as much as I liked Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse, but it was still a fairly entertaining read. While I wouldn’t say the characters in this book are carbon copies of the ones on TV, they’re close enough to make me want to continue reading the next book of the series. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.

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