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James Novak was the host of television news magazine series known as In Focus. In his private life, he was a womanizer who frequently committed sexual affairs with various women behind his wife, Melissa's back.

One of his sex mistresses, Kate Kindel, had enough and decided to call it off. James Novak, either due to her blackmailing him or her decision to tell Melissa in either case, decided to murder her while making it seem as though she was another victim of a serial killer of actresses who had photographs taken by him. First, he would trick Kindel into allowing her to be photographed. Then he would murder her by strangling her to death with ropes, and steal her lipstick. Lastly, due to his being part of the documentary crew detailing Monk's 100th case, he would then plant the extra film roll among the film stash in order to complete the illusion. He made some mistakes in regards to the murder, however: First, he murdered her while her back was turned, whereas the serial killer in question, Douglas Thurman, usually attacked his victims from the front, and then make it seem as though he burst in beforehand and kill them. Secondly, he placed it in shortly before they entered, meaning the brief moment the cameras turned back displayed one more film roll than before (although this was a detail most people besides Monk would have most likely missed). He later gave himself away when he ended up turing on light switch #4 of five light switches (that operated a lamp nearby), indicating that he was at the apartment before. In addition, the motel where Thurman was hiding at was near Mexico, which was to the south, yet her death was north of San Francisco, something that Thurman would not have risked. Monk noticed these details and implicated him as the guilty party for Kate Kidel. In addition, throughout the party, he was flirting with various women, even in the presence of his wife. Despite working on the case, and in spite of mentioning it on the show, he ironically failed to remember that Monk never misses any details. He then tries to hold up Disher when he receives the incriminating lipstick, but Disher tosses it and flees to buy Stottlemeyer the second needed to tackle Novak to the ground. His arrest is later publicized in the paper the next morning, with the article also noting the irony of his arrest.

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