Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical cross-genre novel (originally published in German as Das Parfum) by German writer Patrick Süskind. The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry. It is a story of identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit.
The story centers on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an unloved 18th-century French orphan who is born with an exceptional sense of smell, being able to distinguish a vast range of scents in the world around him. Grenouille becomes a perfumer but is drawn to murder when he encounters a young girl with an unsurpassed wondrous scent. Later, living in isolation in a mountain cave, he is shaken after some years to discover his own complete lack of scent; the discovery draws him back to society in search of scents that are capable of changing how he will be perceived by others, and eventually to learn the highest level of the art in the Grasse region of France. Once again he encounters a remarkable scent from a teenage girl, and this time engages in serial murder in order to practice the preserving of her scent with his perfumier's art. He is caught red-handed after this murder, but his sentence is not carried out, because he has by now developed a scent that causes people to fall in helpless awe and adoration of him. However this power does not bring him happiness and he realizes he is a misanthrope - someone who hates people, and he is left disillusioned. Finally he returns to Paris, where he is torn to pieces by a crowd who are so drawn to him due to his scent, that they became compelled to obtain and consume pieces of him.