Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Süskind , John E. Woods I just finished "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and I'm literally shaking my head at the rollercoaster ride this book has taken me on. I'm trying to decide if it had a constructive impact on me, and on the other, I keep wanting to ask myself if what happened at the end of the book really happened. It's one of those "love it or hate it" books that you don't know what you're getting into until after it all unfolds. That's what makes me hesitant to recommend it to anyone and everyone. Part of me enjoyed the ride, the other part feels a bit like I've been hit by a bus.Suffice to say, I err on the side of liking it overall. Suskind crafted a very strong narrative in the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille - a man with an extraordinary sense of smell, though with an oddity that's been about him since birth - no human nor being could detect Grenouille's scent. Now you might think a book about perfumes, scents, and murders might be, well, ludicrous, but Suskind's novel draws you into its narrative in spurts. Grenouille's an unlikely protagonist. Grotesque and dealt a bad hand in life, his quest in creating the scents he detects from his unique ability and ultimately creating the one scent that defies human notions drives him into a state of madness that unfolds like an apple coming out of its rinds - only you reach the core a little too soon and before you know it, it's gone.To be honest, I thought the crimes toward the end were rushed and disassociated. The lives of the people who had passed on in Grenouille's company (stark fame only to meet a terrible demise) were given much more time and care than the female victims in his crime spree, save for the final one. And don't get me started on the ending - I can almost suspect you won't see it coming. I didn't see it coming, and I usually am good about spotting endings.Part of me wanted to say "Holy crud, that ending is probably the most brilliant sense of irony I've seen with the setup it had. I just wish that the progression toward the end was handled better." The other part of me thought it was so - for lack of a better term, insane - that I wanted to throw my book down and scream bloody murder (which technically...).Curses, however, to the fact that this book made me care about the events within it up to a certain point when it became about the responses to the crimes (warranted, I think). Admittedly, the best character in this book for me was Baldini, and he came early on in Grenouille's descent into madness. He was interesting, hilarious, and ultimately intriguing to watch in the scenes.Collectively speaking, I have to give this book at least three stars - which would be my original rating given the strength of the narrative voice (which is debatable to some because it's not dialogue-centric), the characterization, and ultimately the command of olfactory senses and perfume procedures that made me have a new appreciation for the craft. On the contrary - I didn't like the pacing that much (some parts of the book, though well-written, were sluggish to get through), and the ending still leaves me with a WTH? impression. The extra .5 is on behalf of the positive side of that ending (the irony, not the event), which I'm giving it credit for, and because Grenouille, while not in my opinion anyone to root for, was a character I came to know by the time the book ended.Overall score: 3.5/5