Goldberg mentioned on his blog
that this book was being released as an audiobook on Audible.com -- the first audiobook release in the "Monk" series. I made sure to be caught up in the series in time to take the audiobook (my first Audible.com purchase) with me on a road trip to visit my brother for Parents Weekend at his college. And it was worth the effort (not that reading "Monk" books is much of an effort) -- I can't tell you how much I loved listening to this audiobook. The book itself is wonderful -- the third (and probably final) entry in what I think of as the Monk "travel" novels, the gorgeous descriptions of Paris made me want to visit the city even more than I already do. There were some hilarious moments (Monk and Natalie being forced to share a hotel room -- and no, it's not a set-up to a madcap romantic comedy between opposites, it's just an inconvenience), some heartbreaking moments (Natalie's sudden bolt of grief for Mitch, and Monk's reaction to it), and scenes of sheer delight (the plane trip from Germany to France). The settings are described so lushly that I could picture the scenery in my mind -- the book actually made me want to visit the Paris sewer museum! I also thought the mystery was one of the series's best -- the plot and mystery unfolds as the city does to the reader, and I loved the dramatic switches in location: the city streets, the sewers, the restaurant in which you dine in complete darkness, the homes of the Freegans (the what? Read and find out), the underground tunnels and catacombs.
Natalie and Monk have a non-stop, ever-shifting _adventure_ in this one, which made it perfect road-trip entertainment -- and it wasn't lacking for character development and a scene or two of real sweetness between the two main characters, the latter of which is my favorite thing about this series.
I also gotta applaud Laura Hicks, the audiobook reader. She's done a bunch of audiobooks, and it's easy to see why -- she's awesome. She has to come up with a lot of character voices, including many with French accents, and also rattle off quite a bit of French, and she pulls it all off flawlessly. I particularly liked her voice choices for the two main characters: Natalie (from whose perspective the book is written) has a slightly higher voice when she's speaking (to differentiate from her first-person narration of the novel), and Monk himself. Instead of trying to just deepen her voice to ludicrous degrees (which is how a lot of women try to do male voices, just as a lot of men use falsettos for women's voices and call it a day), she actually creates a _voice_ for him. Hicks does talk in a lower tone than what she uses for, say, Natalie, but she also adds a slight, pleasant rasp to Monk's voice, making him quirkier. She doesn't sound like Tony Shalhoub in terms of tone, but she's got the _spirit_ of Shalhoub's Monk down with it, and I love it. Her accents are great and there was never any doubt of who was speaking -- and she's got a voice that is both engaging and soothing. I could listen to her on the hours-long drive without getting sleepy (a major problem of mine with audiobooks), but I could also listen to her before bed to relax -- it was an awesome combination.
I finished listening to the book when I got back and started listening to it again from the beginning a day or two later -- I'm halfway through (when I put it aside for awhile to listen to the new "Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii" release), but I can't wait to go back to it and finish it. It's _good_.