Thinking about Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 I read this book a couple of weeks ago, but I needed time to digest my thoughts and work through finals and such. I did read this book for one of my classes, and I do not let that influence my opinion of the work as much as I can.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Title || Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (GoodReads)
Author || Patrick Süskind
Published || in 1985 by Diogenes in Germany
Form || Physical
Genre || Historical Fiction, Horror?
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The language, the character study
Nay || The plot, to a degree
Summary || A scentless man follows his nose to murder.

Note: I tried a new review style for this. I hope you enjoy 😀


Dear Perfume,

I think the key thing to know about you going in is in the title: you are the story of a murderer (a serial killer, to be specific). You are not a happy book. You are dark and, in some ways, ponderous. You are stranger. You are an examination of a sensory input many of us don’t pay close attention to, but you are also an exploration of a character type many find fascinating and abhorrent.

You are not, however, for everyone.

But you are, fortunately, for me.

I find your language beautiful. I wonder how much of it is translation, and how the original (which I do intend to read). Another reader might find you tedious, or distracting, but I found you engrossing and compelling.

Occasionally, you drift onto tangents regarding those whom Grenouille leaves behind. We see their lives carry on until their deaths, which are mostly irrelevant to our murderer. I found you thoroughly entertaining in this manner, but another reader may get off track and not come back, even if you do.

Your very nature almost requires that you be explicit. In some ways, you are. More repulsive, though, is how the clinical treatment of these terrible things makes them almost normal—it’s fascinating twist and a curious turn to Grenouille’s understanding of the value of a person—not in the life, but the scent to be preserved beyond it. We are so thoroughly encased in Grenouille’s perspective that we see and feel as he does, and are perhaps repulsed by our own careless treatment of the murder victims.

You studied Grenouille in such a thorough manner. Some aspects were strange, but certainly everything seems to fit into your plot. I question the reality of such a mindset as Grenouille’s—but I must buy into the magic of his nose—and you only report what apparently happened. For you, reality matters only insofar as it sets the stage for your story, and it works.

Your ending is bizarre and spectacular. Even knowing what would happen, I was surprised and shocked by the details of the event.

Another reader may be horrified you even exist.


Thanks for reading!
Have you read Perfume? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
What are your thoughts on serial killers featuring in fiction?

9 thoughts on “Thinking about Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

  1. Hi, I liked your review. I’ve always associate Perfume with The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both books are popular and have had movie adaptations. I’ve seen the movies but I’m yet to read Perfume. I don’t think I’ll rate Perfume highly, and maybe your review confirmed my reticence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I’d never heard of Perfume before having to read it for class. How did the association for those particular reasons come about? There are a lot of popular books with film adaptations that I don’t associate, so I’m just curious ^^


  2. Well, I don’t usually watch TV, but for a few months I had cable and these two movies were broadcast there. Apart from that, both movies had similar pacing and cinematography – IMHO. Plus their books were available in my local bookstore, they were the only contemporary, popular books on sale at that time. I live in a small island. There was not much variety. Now I have Kindle and ebooks though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can definitely see why they would become associated under those conditions -nods- I can’t say they’re really at all alike, based on what I know of The Time Traveler’s Wife without having read it.

      It’s pretty great how much ebooks can expand offers in terms of books, though I can’t see I take advantage of it fully.


  3. Very creative way to review a book! Artistic even! I really liked the letter format, and it reminded me of the letters I’d have to write in creative writing class ahead of workshop days where we’d discuss our peer’s work. I did have little trouble at times focusing on critique because I had to keep reminding myself that you were not talking directly to me, but the book. I’d like to see you do this again if you have found it works for you!

    This must have been a really interesting book to read for a class. I don’t remember how I learned of it, but I bought and read it my freshman year of high school. I remember it being one of the most shocking things I’ve ever read and also one of the most beautiful. It was so weird 😀 You’ve made me want to reread it, although I think I got rid of my copy because it had the movie poster cover and I have always been a bit snobby with my dislike of those xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your input! I’ll try to make the bookish you more obvious in the next one ^^

      It was a really interesting book to read, and very much so to discuss, especially given previous discussions we’d had in the class. They do have a very pretty new cover with a flower on it now, so it may be worth repurchasing if you can get it cheap–or check it out from the library.

      Liked by 1 person

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