In just a fraction of a second it happens: a young man, about 20 years old, is hit by a sea-green car at the Place des Pyramides in Paris. He is injured and immediately transported to a hospital where he wakes up a couple of days later, not remembering what happened exactly. A man addresses him and makes him sign a piece of paper stating that he is not going to press charges. The next days, the young narrator tries to figure out what happened that evening and especially who the driver – an attractive young woman – was. Yet he confuses current and past events since he had a similar accident when he was a boy. Ominous Monsieur Solière seems to be the key to the memories.
A motive which is reoccurs in Modiano’s novels is a young man roaming the streets of Paris in search for a young woman. Here, however, it is not the one who fascinates him and whom he fell in love with, but the driver who caused the accident. He gathers pieces of information which do not fit together for a long time, but finally he manages to sort out the unlucky evening. The novel parallels the narrator’s pace at which he gets forward in his research for the truth, at some time it slows down just to accelerate again. In this it is typical of Modiano’s style of writing and again we get an idea of the Paris of the 1960s which has vanished long time ago. The bars you attend to get to know people and chat easily, the people open to talk to you. This novel differs in the way that there is an aim of the protagonist, he is not just strolling around searching for the sense of being, but looking for something specific, which makes this novel stand out amongst Modiano’s long list of Paris novels.