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Philippe comes well and truly last in a round-the-world solo sailing competition. No skin off the sponsor’s nose; this way he’s in the news! After this long absence, Philippe doesn’t find it easy fitting back into daily life – however harmonious – with his translator girlfriend, Lucie, and his six-year-old son Vincent. He’s assailed by a kind of land-sickness. During an ordinary sailing trip, he simply disappears into the open sea off La Rochelle.
His body can’t be found, making it difficult for those near to him to truly grieve as there’s no tangible proof of his death. Lucie fights grief and refuses to accept his death. Little by little, she unearths or invents several mysteries surrounding his disappearance.
He’d taken out life insurance and lent a considerable amount of money to a Madagascan friend who’d set himself up as a stringed instrument manufacturer in Paris. Lucie desperately denies Philippe’s death by refusing the assurance money.
She even manages to convince Guy-Auguste, the insurance agent, to take his investigation as far as Madagascar to search for a man presumed dead.