by M.J. Rose
The intriguing notion at the heart of this book is that an ancient Egyptian fragrance could be the key to unlocking the mysteries of past life.
For generations, the House of L'Etoile in Paris has created exclusive fragrances, but now the business is in trouble. The family patriarch is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and children Robbie and Jac (Jacinth) must find a way to save the company. Jac wants to sell two of their premiere fragrances, but Robbie is certain that if Jac, who has a superior nose, will help him, they can find the lost elusive fragrance of memory. Jac, a skeptic, dismisses his ideas. Robbie has an ulterior motive. A converted Buddhist, he hopes to find the lost frangrance and give it to the Dalai Lama to help the beleaguered Tibetan people. He enlists the help of Griffin North, Jac's former love.
As a child, Jac suffered from schizophrenic episodes made worse by the scents in her father's workroom. (Or were they memories of past lives that the young Jac had no way to process?) Since finding psychological help from Dr. Malachai Samuels, a familiar figure in previous books in this series, she has kept her distance from the family business. Then Robbie disappears from the House of L'Etoile, leaving a dead body behind, and Jac and Griffin must work together to find out what happened.
I really enjoyed this book. The main plot about the lost fragrance is quite fascinating and takes from present day to Ancient Egypt and Revolutionary Paris. The subplot about Chinese attempts to prevent the fragrance from reaching the Dalai Lama complicates matters, as does Malachai Samuels's attempts to obtain the lost memory tool. In previous books, Malachai has been a suspected villain, even coming under FBI surveillance, but he now seems determined to clear his name.
I found the book fascinating, both for plot and the ambience. MJ Rose was clearly inspired by her research into the history of perfume. The book doesn't have the happy ending I wanted but it was satisfying nevertheless. I have read the entire series and this is one of the best, along with The Memorist. I'm hoping there will be more.
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aka Lyndi Lamont
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