The Story of A Murderer

Book - 2001 | 1st Vintage International ed.
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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 lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume"--the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance,Perfumeis a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity. Translated from the German by John E. Woods.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2001, 1986.
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed.
ISBN: 9780307277763
Characteristics: 255 p.
Additional Contributors: Woods, John E. (John Edwin)


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Nov 19, 2020

A good read

Jan 28, 2019

This book starts off disturbing and ends as such. This book is rather interesting because it is written so beautifully yet the contents are rather disturbing and explore rather subjective themes. One theme that is prominant is the societal concept of beauty and what one considers beautiful and how we strive for such a beauty. Themes that are also explored are obsession- particularly the obsession to create something so perfect that everyone will be obsessed with it, as well as neglect and its affect on ones life. The main character is neglected all of his life and is repeatedly abused yet he has an extreme talent to create perfumes due to his heightened sense of smell. This book goes from disturbing to even more disturbing at the ending. This book is definitely a must read, I personally consider it one of the best books of all time. Everyone should definitely read this book at least once. 5/5 Stars.
@TheCollector of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Nov 13, 2018

A very well written book.
A bizarre story that I think has something to say about humanity.

SkokieStaff_Steven Jan 15, 2018

“In Eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.” So begins Patrick Suskind’s novel “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” which was first published in English in 1986. Why I waited over 30 years to read it I do not know, but I have done so now and can say the book is a masterpiece. The book’s plot—a freakish misfit murders young women to steal their scents—is but the scaffolding for rich descriptive passages that bring the sights, sounds, and, above all, the smells of Enlightenment France to vivid life. The prose is so fine that I am amazed the book was not written in English originally, and the tone can be called a mixture of deadpan and the blackest of black humor. I have to believe the author’s sensory descriptions inspired its publisher to make the book an appealing physical object with heavy paper, beveled edges, and an evocative type (Janson, according to a note). I will now file the book on a mental shelf for international bestsellers that fully deserve their success, along with Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose,” Jostein Gaarder’s “Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy,” Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Shadow of the Wind,” and Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.”

liljables Jul 23, 2017

How did it take me so long to read this novel?! Perfume is certainly not for everyone, but it ticked many boxes for me: it delivers gritty, unromantic historical fiction with a dash of magical realism and an utterly captivating anti-hero.

Perfume reminded me of a couple of other patently "not for everyone" novels. Firstly, it uses a narrative structure that I've only encountered once before, in Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White: the narrator often breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges that the book's readers are living in a more modern era than the story being told. For some reason, this delights me to no end. Secondly, the dispassionate delivery of this story about thoroughly unlikable characters reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History. And finally, Grenouille's character could have inspired the main character of John Burnside's The Dumb House, a deeply troubling novel about a psychopath who conducts experiments on children to determine whether language is innate.

ezhurbin Mar 23, 2016

I find this book extremely overrated. The story has an interesting premise, but very quickly losses vitality and becomes too dragged out, especially in the exhaustive descriptions of perfume ingredients and steps withing a process. All characters are underdeveloped and ,frankly, boring. The protagonist/villain is devout of any personality and simply evil for the sake of being evil. There are other literally villains who are evil without reason (ex. Fantomas), but at least they have some qualities like terrifying, repulsive, elegant, sadistic, fascinating, etc. This villain is suppose to be monster and an evil murderer, but he is so flat and not notable, that he leaves no mark of his existence on a reader. The best word to describe this book is tiresome. I wish i didn't waste my time reading it!

Oct 26, 2015

Historical fiction? Thriller? Magical realism? You may not be able to pin a genre on the tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, but you'll certainly enjoy the ride!

Jun 17, 2015

Started well, but got too weird for me. I finished it, but wasn't interested in the last half of the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

A seductive and macabre tale of murder in 18th century Europe. A man's obsession with the scent of a woman takes him far beyond the boundaries of love and sanity. A masterpiece, artfully written and rich in historical detail.

KCLSLibsRecommend Apr 17, 2014

Set in 18th century France, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille uses his extraordinary sense of smell to become one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Smells are beautifully described and brought to life for the reader. Grenouille is however obsessed with only one thing- capturing the essence of certain desirable young women. Creepy and fascinating!

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