Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Perfume - The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Perfume - The Story of a Murderer. Patrick Suskind. Vintage Press. February 2001. 255 pages. ISBN #: 9780671749606.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born in late 19th Century France to parents who is rejected by his parents and all who would otherwise want a little baby to nourish and cherish. The few who do encounter him as a baby note that he smells "evil," like an abomination, whatever that means; it turns out he literally has no smell to him, unlike other sweet babies. But Grenouille survives the rejection of a woman, priest and others to discover that his total way of appreciating the world is through the unique sense of smell that HE has. For he can recognize any object or person by smell, and this is what feeds his soul and sets his identity - that is until the day he encounters a wholly new intoxicating smell. What he will do upon reaching the source of that lovely odor will shock the reader to the core of his or her mind and heart!

Grenouille is now a changed man and seeks to create perfumes that will entrance other as he has been enraptured. But how he will do it is both mesmerizing and shocking, again and again. For creating the perfect perfume makes him even more of a misogynist than previously and his hate will lead to numerous victims as he seeks to rid the world of malodorous men, women, and children.

This is not your average horror or serial killer story. For the author depicts this psychotic individual with such neutrality and writes in such a literate style that the reader is compelled to keep rapidly turning the pages until the last shocking event! The story also gives a nice historical touch to the story, depicting the poverty, wealth, degradation and depravity of the times in a France that may be post-Revolution but is none the better for the overwhelming changes.

One word only perfectly describes this novel - amazing!

The Other Guy's Bride by Connie Brockway

The Other Guy's Bride. Connie Brockway. Published by Montlake Romance. December 2011. 386 pages. ISBN #: 9781612181448.

Ginesse Braxton is trouble waiting to happen! She's an intelligent girl, curious about everything, and mocked by all because her adventurous spirit has led her into several broken bones, some temper-filled conversations, and even the destruction of a very valuable ancient papyrus document. Now she's on her way to Egypt to find the lost city of Zerzura, but what she will do on her own there defies the imagination since this is 1897 when women are not expected to "do" but to "be" for their male partners/husbands. Trust Ginesse to come up with a very clever idea, to take the place of Ms. Whimpelhall, who is traveling to meet and wed her fiance, a British officer. Ms. Whimpelhall is quite seasick and says she cannot abide another trip at sea, so she asks Ginesse to take a letter to her fiance stating that she will make the rest of the journey by train. Everything seems to be falling into place so very nicely for Ginesse, that is until she actually arrives in Egypt and meets the man who will be accompanying her across the formidable Sahara desert.

Jim Owen is not whom he seems. Ginesse thinks he is the proverbial cowboy and a rather smelly, rude, and crude one at that. Yet despite their constant clashes, they are drawn to each other, which stands them both in good stead as both are avoiding people they know. If they were to meet these significant other people, disaster would strike for sure, wouldn't it? Or perhaps the two of them together are enough to invite troubles galore! Yes, these troubles are both hilarious, annoying, and very dangerous.

In the process of their travels, Ginesse and Jim get to know each other - that is, in their false identities. But little by little, revelations will unfold, and love will blossom but not until they both have to surmount more secrets and revelations that only the exotic Egyptian past can reveal to those who seek without fear. Jim is quite an unusual and special guy when all is said and done! Passion galore will flow and end in a lovely but surprising end for this stormy, feisty couple!

Nicely plotted story, Ms. Brockway - there's enough complexity and turns of the story to keep any reader avidly turning the pages. Fine romantic fiction!

Amongst My Enemies by William F. Brown

Amongst My Enemies. William F. Brown. Publisher - William F. Brown as E-Book. 348 Pages. ISBN #: 9781617506710.

Mike Randall is an American pilot shot down during World War II over Northern Germany, treated mercilessly as a German POW to do labor in conditions where one wondered whether one would freeze or starve to death first. While there, his buddy is dying and Mike makes a choice that will haunt him for the rest of his days. As if that were not enough, he is taken on a job and stows away on a ship carrying valuables stolen by the Germans from the captured and murdered Jews. A German officer allows Mike to go free but what follows literally minutes after he is placed in a boat to go ashore is a burden that causes Mike to have a physical and mental breakdown! War is indeed hell for Mike Randall!

After being cared for by a kind Swedish family, Mike years later sees a news story that he knows he must follow-up on - the identification of a German officer who is not who he says he is. Not to spoil the story, a journey begins in New York and continues in Germany that involves an American detective, former German military who are hidden but ever-plotting, Russians who are looking to guarantee the spread of Communism, and numerous other sharks who will maim and kill just like all the others to guarantee their own wealth and power.

No, this is not just another war story! William Brown takes the reader to the heights and dregs of the human condition, giving glimpses to the motives and relationships that are ruled by head and heart, sometimes but not always balanced or whole. On the other hand, there are many characters who understand what Mike has endured and why he must bring some type of closure to the past and perhaps redeem the ghosts that haunt him on a daily basis. He surprisingly is drawn into a relationship with a spunky female whom he fears because of his secret that she doesn't know, but even there the author credibly leads them into a compassionate and passionate place.

This is a story that speeds along like a Ken Follett or Eric Ludlum novel of old. For those who love adventure, thrills, and mystery with a tinge of romance, this novel will leave you breathless and wanting more from this skillful writer. Splendidly written!