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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  274,106 ratings  ·  12,333 reviews
An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind's classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man's indulgence in his greatest passion — his sense of smell — leads to murder.

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he
Paperback, 255 pages
Published February 13th 2001 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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Christy The way this book is read....with the focus on the poor sad, unloved genius....that was a necessary reminder. Okay....feel sorry for him, see how…moreThe way this book is read....with the focus on the poor sad, unloved genius....that was a necessary reminder. Okay....feel sorry for him, see how brilliant he is at what he does, but for goodness sake, don't leave your humanity behind when moved by a powerful book.....the girls, undeserving of their're just overlooking ingredients....few glad I'm not surprised a man asked this question...(less)
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 ·  274,106 ratings  ·  12,333 reviews

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
I was predisposed to love this book no matter what. I love perfumes. The fact that this book had blood and murder was just a bonus.

For me, perfumes and scents are a visceral thing. I love perfume. I have never been a visual person, my memories are composed of layers of scent.

I remember as a child, growing up in Vietnam, visiting my elderly neighbor's house and having him give me a cup of black tea infused with jasmine. Those jasmines would put the pitiful little star jasmines to shame. They were
Bryce Wilson
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
“He possessed the power. He held it in his hand. A power stronger than the power of money or the power of terror or the power of death: the invincible power to command the love of mankind. There was only one thing that power could not do: it could not make him able to smell himself.”

Perfume is a story about social isolation; it’s a story about not belonging in the world and the negative effects this can wrought on one’s mind. It’s also a story about obsession, a singular pursuit for perfection
Will Byrnes
Nov 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 18th Century France a baby is born who lacks any scent. He does, however, have a deep and strong survival urge. Although he is treated as a pariah by many for his condition, he possesses a parallel condition, a heightened sensitivity to aroma. It is his quest to experience life through smell, and he does so. He is also a cold-hearted sociopath who seizes opportunities where he can to advance his particular desires. It ends badly for him, but that is a good thing.

The author

This is a very inte
John Wiswell
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction readers, fantasy readers, readers who love bizarre characters
I had a heck of a time thinking who I'd recommend this to. It won a Fantasy award, yet I can't call it Fantasy. It's set in a bygone period, but it doesn't play with history, so it's not Historical Fiction. It's about a murder, yet it's not terrifying like Horror, nor is it a mystery. It's just the story of a peculiar boy who became a dangerous and most interesting man. He was born without an odor, you see, and lacking that part of identity, became obsessed with smell. That identity crisis trigg ...more
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Molly by: Betty - bettysbooks.blogspot
Shelves: fiction
I want my last 2 weeks back. I dove into this book expecting a hell of a lot more than I dragged out of it. From the very beginning I did not like the author's writing style and should have known then that this book just wouldn't be for me.

This book is set in the mid-1700's France and centers around a horrid man who has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that he has likely the most perfect sense of smell in the history of mankind. But he uses this skill for selfish and evil purposes and
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone willing to enjoy something...different
This book was different and brilliant. The story of an orphaned boy born without a scent, but with an incredibly refined sense of smell, the book drags a bit in parts, but the ends justify the means, in more ways than one.

All things considered, the book is a valentine to the beauty, elegance, and power of smell. A truly underrated sense, Suskind reminds the reader of just how powerful an effect our sense of smell can have. Although Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (one of the great names in contemporary
Steven Godin
Due to a bit of a cold lately, I couldn't smell the cinnamon sprinkled on my Frothy Coffee, nor the aromas of fresh croissants walking past the patisserie, or the preparation of an evening meal consisting of mussels cooked in garlic butter. I love these smells, they are just as important to me as taste, damn this cold!, if only I had the nose of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, having a cold wouldn't have made any difference, I could smell the fresh fish markets from a mile away!. No interest though in ...more
May 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who eschew irritating film adaptations
Recommended to Tedb0t by: someone (?) via Matt
I'd like to make something very clear with my review of this book. I normally don't go overboard with the whole "the movie vs. the book" argument because I'm not interested in making people's decisions for them, even though I'm strongly opinionated about the subject. But this is a case where I have to speak out. Süskind has created here a work of literary art in prose, and I take that seriously. I admire lots of books but I wouldn't say this about any old novel. The movie "Perfume" makes an utte ...more
Nandakishore Varma
There are some books which can be called unique. They may be good, bad or indifferent: but their authors strike out from the trodden paths of narrative themes and structure to explore totally new vistas, so that the product becomes unique. Perfume by Patrick Suskind is such a book.

Jean Baptiste Grenouille is "an abominable and gifted personage, in an era which was not lacking in abominable and gifted personages". Born a bastard in the stinking heart of the city of Paris in the eighteenth century
Michael Fierce
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Gothic horror, serial killer lovers, and the literate crowd


Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer is simply one of the greatest horror novels ever written.

Taking place in 18th century, France, it begins with an infant born with one difference from the rest of the world: Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with the ability to smell anything and everything in the world around him.

Although not a novel of the supernatural as commonly defined, in a sense, it is, because his ability can only be defined as that of supernature.

While not being the most prolific author
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
To be entirely honest I still haven't decided whether I loved the book or hated it. XD I loved the writing style and the idea behind it but at the same time I was disgusted by the vivid pictures it provoked. It was way too easy to get lost in the "Perfume" and I swear I could literally smell the book while I read it. *lol*

All things considered it actually was a very good read and I can recommend it to everyone who's into haunting stories.

I read that book a while ago and I'm still thinking abou
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me begin by telling you that this book is hilarious, and I am mildly obsessed with it. I loved it. Grenouille is my new favorite literary character. I’ve even started doing little impersonations of him when I'm feeling particularly annoying, which I think is going over pretty well around my house. He lurks in the shadows, is mildly hunchbacked, and sniffs the air like a total freak.

Anyway, as you may know, Perfume is the story of Grenouille, a man born with the ability to smell every little
Ahmad Sharabiani
243. Das Parfum. Die Geschichte eines Mörders, Patrick Süskind = Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical fantasy novel (published originally in German as Das Parfum) by German writer Patrick Süskind. The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may have. The story mainly concerns Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (French for "frog"), an unloved 18th-century French orphan who is bor
If I could only have one word to describe this novel it would have to be "original". What an idea, what a concept Suskind came up with for this story, for this character. Fortunately I have more words available and I have to use them. Words like creepy, disgusting, sick, vile, etc. etc. It's the story of a serial killer in 18th century France. The victims - young girls, virgins. Predictable you say, well not so much. Sherlock Holmes would have struggled solving this case I believe. Very well wri ...more
"So what did you think of it?" she asked. "I've been trying to write something, but all I can come up with is that it's a weird story about a guy who has an unusually good sense of smell."

She stopped, struck by a thought. "Wait a minute. You've got a pretty acute sense of smell yourself. I've noticed, don't try to deny it. That thing with the toaster. Right?"

He was cornered, and vaguely assented, hoping she would drop the subject. But she persisted.

"So you must have read it too. What did you thi
Oct 31, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard for me to put into words how much I loved this story. The pacing, the characters, the overall plot - everything was perfection. However, the most amazing thing for me was the writing style. So much eloquence and beauty, without ever being over the top. I've seen some people complaining about how "simple" some of the heavy plot points were treated. I do understand and respect those opinions, but I especially liked that aspect.
Yes, this is a book about a murderer, but it isn't a crime n
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said
Smell, they say, is the strongest of the senses.


I remember a time, years ago, on the beach.
I could smell the lake, the night air
Feel the Harley spinning out of control as it hit the sand. No pain just
The smell of wet leather and silk
Bob Seger singing
Moonlit endless sand
The taste of beer and cigarettes
His scent……..mine….mingled.

That’s the thing about smell; it commands an immediate and visceral response. It is instinctive, automatic; void of conscious thought or will, all the while affect
Helen 2.0
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Closet villains
This book had me like...

Unlike anything I've ever read, but I loved it. Especially the whole last chapter had me laughing morbidly at scenes the author probably did not intend to be satire. The circumstances of Jean-Baptiste's birth and upbringing were also hilariously awful to me.
During the rest of the book my general reaction was this:

I wasn't sure if I was gonna be sent straight to hell for rooting for the main character so I tried to keep my opinion out of the general reading process. (I say
A cross between The Silence of the Lambs and a period drama. That's how I would describe Perfume, the great German classic of the 1980s. Basically, it's an eighteenth-century murder story, except that it doesn't focus on the victims and the hunt for the killer, but rather emphasises the life and times of the murderer, who is an unusual protagonist to say the least.

Perfume tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an eighteenth-century Parisian with a unique gift: a prodigiously well-developed
Johann (jobis89)
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they couldn't escape scent."

The story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who was born without his own scent but with a heightened sense of smell. Set in Paris in the late 1700s, Perfume tells the tale of his search for the perfect scent.

Perfume has to be one of the most unique stories I've encountered, at times it is as equally beautiful as it is grim and disturbing. The story foc
Dec 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book was lent to me by a friend. This friend was really a great writer and kind of a genius but also an asshole. I should have known about this friend. Her name means sadness and she carried herself either in awkwardness or fierceness or hipper than you savagery or a combination of all of those or none of them and I’m just constructing a mythic version of her. Her writing was amazing. It was zany, rich, violent and grotesque. It would reach down into intense emotional depths and then get co ...more
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To say this book is just a book of murder is to confine Patrick Suskind's words to banality.
It is a story of love and obsession. Of one destined to be a captive of the senses.
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is a slave to scent. As some people are captivated by the scent of roses or lilacs, so Jean-Baptiste is captivated by the scent of women. In his dementia, in his lonely mind, he seeks to forever hold this scent of innocence and beauty, so much so it drives him to the brink of insanity, forcing him
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-novels
Bizarre and unusual tale set in eighteenth century France. Grenouille is born without an odour and becomes obsessed with odours. He gradually moves through the novel learning all there is to know about perfume and scent and how to make, extract and distill it. Unfortunatley Grenouille is completely amoral with no feeling for anyone else. The story becomes increasingly bizarre and the ending is strange; difficult to stomach you might say!
It is a well written, beautifully crafted with rich languag
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

The first thing I want to say is that, even though I didn't really enjoy it, I do fully recommend you read this book. It has a wonderful concept and will make you think so much about a lot of things-life, people, senses, smells, the way you see the world-that I think the enjoyment of the story is a little unimportant.

This is the story of a late-Seventeenth-Century French man who is born with an extra
Petal Eggs
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Original story, well-written, a bit creepy, a lot silly, morality turned on its head for sex and drugs, it put me in mind that it was the Pied Piper in reverse. Not an exact analogy, just what it put in my mind.

I've just downloaded the film. It will be interesting to see how much humanity is allowed Grenouille.

Bill Khaemba
2nd time around: Still eerie, deeply disturbing but a beautiful surreal experience! Grenouille is still one of the most fascinating characters I have ever encountered

PHENOMENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I f$@£! loved it

“He succeeded in being considered totally uninteresting. People left him alone. And that was all he wanted.” 

18th Century France, Grenouille is a man who has no human scent or body odor but is gifted with a very sharp sense of smell. He has the gift of recognizing and creating smells that wo
Aishu Rehman
After decades of hearing about this book, I finally settled in to read it. It is quite disturbing, terribly engaging, and a bit haunting. I found myself reading through it in a matter of several days. As I read, I could almost smell the book. I've never read a book that stimulates one sense so strongly. The English translation reads like a 19th-century French realist novel, in a good way.

This is exactly why I felt so ... betrayed? ... by the ending. Now, I realize the author was making a stateme
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Needless to say, this book will not be everyone's cup of tea; but it takes a particularly talented writer to make you pity and sympathize with a murderer, and Süskind just happens to be that kind of writer. I remember when I first read this books years ago, the finishing paragraph left me breathless, and as I placed the book down the first thing that came across my mind was, "What the hell did I just read?" However once you understand the unique motivation behind the protagonist's cruel art-form ...more
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From 1968-1974 he studied medieval and modern history in Munich and Aix-en-Provence. In the '80s he worked as a screenwriter, for Kir Royal and Monaco Franze among others.

After spending the 1970s writing what he has characterized as “short unpublished prose pieces and longer un-produced screenplays”, Patrick Süskind was catapulted to fame in the 1980s by the monodrama Der Kontrabass (The Double B
“He succeeded in being considered totally uninteresting. People left him alone. And that was all he wanted.” 521 likes
“...talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.” 415 likes
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