This is the story of a man with the unfortunate name of Grenouille (frog in French) born with no scent of his own but possessing an acute sense of smell. So acute that he is able to recognize individuals by their scent when they are blocks away. He apprentices himself as a perfumer and quickly masters the mixing process of the oils. He then determines to learn how to extract the oils themselves. After learning several different methods of extraction he devises an horrific plan. A series of grizzly murders ensues culminating in a final 25th murder. The result is a perfume like no other.
This book is creepy beyond creepy. The concept itself is an interesting one but the writing is terribly descriptive. It reads almost like three separate stories. The first being the beginning of his life and his first apprenticeship in Paris. The second part is a bizarre dream sequence where Grenouille had escaped humanity and is living in a cave at the top of the highest mountain. He subsists on eating small amounts of grass, moss and lichen. He drinks water from a minute spring where it takes him over an hour to drink what he needs for the day. I found myself skimming this section because if felt tedious and redundant and somewhat disjointed. After seven years, Grenouille emerges from the cave and begins the third part of his life. The final part of his life is his life as a journeyman in Grasse where he learns the various methods of extracting oils. This is also the culmination of his horrific plan and finally his life. I was surprised by the end but then decided it made sense and poetic justice.
If you like books of grizzly murders, this is the one for you.