Jean-Baptiste Grenouille begins life as an unwanted baby boy in 18th century Paris. As he grows, he doesn't develop a conscience or an ethical set of values, but he does have the most amazingly well-developed sense of smell, allowing him to parse out thousands of individual scents. Lacking a moral compass along with any sort of body odor, Grenouille's ambition to create the ultimate perfume drives him to the murder of sweet innocent virgins.
Am I the only person in the world who thought this book was just a little bit ridiculous? I could handle the unscented boy with the most sensitive and talented olfactory nerves in the world, but there was a bit too much implausibility heaped on top of that. By the time I got to the (um, spoiler?) scent-induced town-wide orgy, I just had to laugh at how silly it all was. Maybe that's because I've never had the chance to participate in a town-wide orgy myself, scent-induced or no. But maybe that's because the concept is a bit too far-fetched.
In addition to the aforementioned need to suspend more disbelief than I found possible, there was not much in the way of character development. And I just have to mention that adult ticks have eight legs, not six. (Don't most people know this?) But I couldn't fault the writing, and the story itself was interesting (without ever reaching critical mass) and certainly unique.
The best part of this book may be the inscription I found in my used copy. Some poor sap wrote (among other things): "Behind the fascinating murder story is the notion that we are attracted to people not for their physical attributes or for their deep intellect, but for their 'fragrance' which we perceive unconsciously. Maybe I'm odd, but I find this concept somewhat sexy." And then the girl he gave it to sold the book. Guess she didn't like the way he smelled.