Steve's Reviews > Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume by Patrick Süskind
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Jan 15, 10

Read in September, 1996

Has there ever been such an uncomfortable, though utterly compelling, portrait of a serial killer? Suskind has provided his readership with a tale which is in effect a gothic fairy-tale with an absolutely monstrous central character. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, abandoned as a child, is distinguished by his exceptional olfactory powers, which extend to being able to capture in essence the smells of inanimate objects as well as those of human emotions and conditions such as trust. Grenouille not only gains notoriety in the perfumier industry, but in determining to isolate the essence of a young virgin, is driven to commit a series of murders. The author with great skill is able, without once losing the reader's interest, to break-up the drama with detailed passages on the perfumier's art. The fact is that, faced with such an extraordinary figure, the reader willingly enters the intricacies of the industry to better understand Grenouille's motives. The ending is prophetic in that in his own pursuit of the elusive all-intoxicating perfume, Grenouille falls victim to others' desperation to satiate themselves with the same.
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