Private investigator Adrian Monk’s assistant, Natalie Teeger, needs a vacation – specifically a week off to attend the wedding of her good friend Candace’s wedding on the Island of Kauai, in Hawaii.
However, when Natalie tells him she’s leaving him alone for a week, he nearly has a stroke and heart-attack (in his own mind, that is). His analyst – Dr. Kroger – gives him a Dioxynl, which amazingly makes his paranoia disappear but takes away his detective skills. And that results in a chuckle-worthy flight to Hawaii.
Yep, Monk weasels his way along with Natalie, amusing everyone on the flight with his uncharacteristic, uninhibited, un-Monk-like silliness. The next morning, the pill wears off and to Natalie’s and Candace’s surprise, he exposes the groom-to-be, Brian Galloway, as a big fat liar during the wedding itself at the Grand Kiahuna Poipu resort.
End of story. Right? Wrong. See, there’s this woman they find lying face down dead in a tropical hot tub – rich 60-ish Helen Gruber, who recently married her personal trainer, Lance Vaughn, who is 30 years her junior.
Monk takes it upon himself to solve her murder, but not before interacting with Kauai Police Department Lt. Ben Kealoha. Author Goldberg’s descriptive recounting of Det. Kealoha’s pidgin dialect almost made me fall off my chair with laughter. It was perfectly written and amazingly authentic, but I guess you need to be a Hawaii local to fully appreciate (and understand) it.
As an example of Monk’s OCD, he irritates a kiosk vendor by arranging shark-tooth necklaces both by species of sharks and the tooth’s position in the jaw. And, to quote Monk, “You can’t do this at home. Only in Hawaii," gleefully observed as he spends three hours in the process.
Monk’s idea of “cutting loose” while on vacation is teaching the hotel maids the correct way to fold towels, vacuum, mop and dust the rooms.
Okay. So he solves a rash of robberies in a jiffy. And, he solves the Gruber murder case while waiting for Natalie to buy a lilikoi (passion fruit) pie at Namura (Hamura) Saimin.
But is that the end of it? Did Natalie get to enjoy the rest of her vacation in Hawaiian bliss? Noooo. Monk decides (needs, actually) to expose a psychic as a con man. Not only that, at their luau, a man is found in the roast pig imu. Eww.
Natalie and Monk have to make their flight back to and Francisco before he can accomplish his work. But never fear, Monk doesn’t not like loose ends, even those that end in even numbers. He’s so smart that he finishes up the next day in the city by the bay.
I’ve watched the Monk television series, and will all due respect to Tony Shalhoub, Bitty Schram (his first assistant) and Traylor Howard (his new assistant), it was more enjoyable to read Lee Goldberg’s books about the strange detective. His descriptions of Monk’s proclivities just crack me up.
Signet Book ($28.95 list)