February 11, 2013
Books that prominently feature perfume as a central or peripheral character are popping up more frequently these days. Either that or I am just more aware of them, given my proclivity for perfume. I recently received a new book written by John Oehler, called “Aphrodesia”. It is about a young and gifted student perfumer who attempts to recreate the scent of the Queen of Sheba, or Balquees, which was so beguiling she used it to seduce King Solomon. His success is also his downfall.
Queen of Sheba by Elf Fi
The protagonist of “Aphrodesia”, Eric, finds himself in a maelstrom of intrigue, as he is accused of and punished for a theft he did not commit, then accused again, this time of murder. An aphrodisiac perfume, called SF, matching the one he had made in school, is linked to a series of murders. The perfume, called SF, not only incites highly charged sexual encounters, but sometimes those encounters lead to crazed violence and sometimes death. The book chronicles his attempts to get to the bottom of what is sounding more and more like a deep betrayal by someone close to him. He knows his perfume formula has been stolen, and somehow corrupted to make it a killing scent, but proving it will be a difficult task. Along the way he meets a lovely forensics expert, Tanya, who simultaneously helps and hinders his progress, as the police are nipping at his heels.
Control by Kim Hunter
The story kept my attention, and perfumistas will enjoy references to various classic perfumes, extraction processes, and Eric’s refined sense of smell. Dog lovers will enjoy Eric’s rescue bloodhound Daisy, a fitting companion for him, and an essential player in the story. The plot twists and turns, and the characters thrust and parry, from New York to Yemen to Grasse, as the story speeds toward its conclusion. The end is satisfactory, leaving Eric and his potential new love Tanya facing a better future.
I enjoyed reading this book, although there were some areas I felt deserved more explanation. For example, Eric occasionally uses his hypersensitive nose to help police gain clues in criminal investigations, but there is little explanation as to how that came about. I would enjoy knowing more about a perfumista version of Sherlock Holmes. I also felt that some of the characters were not as fleshed out and consistent as they could be: Eric should be a sympathetic character, but he is so antagonistic toward not only people he suspects of wronging him, but also the police detective on his tail, that I was surprised he wasn’t tossed in the slammer. I had to laugh a little as the villain quickly acquired huge wealth selling bottles of the counterfeit perfume, because I know an independent perfumer selling only one fragrance, even worldwide, no matter how sexually powerful, using a scarce, expensive material, would probably not make that kind of money.
Criticisms aside, “Aphrodesia” is a fast, fun read, and a welcome addition to the growing perfumista library. It is well researched, descriptively written, and it seems that Mr. Oehler either enjoys perfume himself or knows someone who does. I also like to support independent authors of merit, and Mr. Oehler’s synopses of his two other book projects, found at the back of the book, make them look like they will also be fun to read.
“Aphrodesia” is available as hard copy and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. I received my copy from Mr. Oehler’s team, and we have a copy for one reader. Would you be interested in a perfume that was a true aphrodisiac? Draw ends February 15, 2013.
We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume
-Tama Blough, Senior Editor