In a madcap romp through the back alleys of Paris, de Rhodes (pen name of Dan Rhodes: Timoleon Vieta Come Home, 2003, etc.) introduces us to a slacker bohemian who may have killed Princess Diana.
Veronique is a 22-year-old photographer trying to make it as an artist while living in the suburbs and working at a boring office full of commuting zombies. Her insufferable boyfriend, Jean-Pierre, writes film reviews for an obscure magazine and composes experimental music so bad that even Veronique won’t listen to it. The day after Veronique finally worked up the nerve to throw Jean-Pierre over, she wakes up late to learn that the Princess of Wales has died in a car crash in the Pont d’Alma—and that the white Fiat that Veronique drove home from Jean-Pierre’s has a smashed-up hood. Observers recalled seeing a mysterious white Fiat cut in front of the Princess’s limousine just before the crash, and Veronique’s last conscious memory of the night before was driving her Fiat slowly and deliberately into the Pont d’Alma on her way home. Did she kill the Princess of Wales! Veronique keeps a cool head and calls her best friend, Estelle, who advises her to break into Jean-Pierre’s apartment and steal his stereo so she can sell it and get money to repair the car before the gendarmes come calling. Veronique makes arrangements. By the time she has the money, though, every auto-shop in France has been warned about smashed-up white Fiats, so Veronique sleeps with the would-be mechanic and tells him to forget she ever called. Jean-Pierre turns out to be quite understanding about his stereo, so she sleeps with him, too. This may be her best move, because he turns out to know some East European sculptors who specialize in car art.
In a kind of Parisian Evelyn Waugh with sex, de Rhodes manages to create a Gallic universe of Bright Young Things set loose upon the world. Vive la différence!