Missing Person (novel)

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Missing Person
Missing Person
Author Patrick Modiano
Language French

Missing Person (French: Rue des Boutiques Obscures) is the sixth novel by French writer Patrick Modiano, published on 5 September 1978. In the same year it was awarded the Prix Goncourt. The English translation by Daniel Weissbort was published in 1980. Rue des Boutiques Obscures (literally 'the Street of dark shops') is the name of a street in Rome (La Via delle Botteghe Oscure) where one of the characters lived,[1] and where Modiano himself lived for some time.[2]

On 9 October 2014, Patrick Modiano was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Guy Roland is a detective who, after the retirement of his boss, van Hutte, decides to leave in 1965 to find his own identity, which he lost after a mysterious accident fifteen years earlier that left him an amnesiac. Ascending the slopes of his tenuous past that seems to stop during the Second World War, he learns that he is called Jimmy Pedro Stern, a Greek Jew from Salonica living in Paris under an assumed name, Pedro McEvoy, and working for the legation of the Dominican Republic. This McEvoy Pedro was surrounded by friends: Denise Coudreuse a French model who shares his life, Freddie Howard Luz of Mauritius, Gay Orlov an American dancer of Russian origin, André Wildmer a former English jockey, who all decided in 1940 to get to Megève to flee a Paris that had become more oppressive during the German occupation. Denise and Pedro had decided to flee to Switzerland, and paid a smuggler who abandoned them in the mountain, separating them and leaving them only lost in the snow.

Guy Roland decides to leave France to try to trace Freddie, who went live in Polynesia after the war. When he arrives in Bora Bora, he learns that Freddie has disappeared, either lost at sea or by choice. The last link that remains for Guy Pedro Stern to track is an address that he held in 1930.


  • Guy Roland - The story's protagonist. He lost his memory during the war. He works as a private detective and tries to recover his past throughout the novel.
  • Constantin van Hutte - The head of the detective agency who gives Guy his new identity. He retires to Nice early in the story.
  • Paul Sonachidtze - Guy's starting point on his journey.
  • Jean Heruteur - A restaurateur and friend of Sonachidze's.
  • Mr. Styoppa de Dzhagorev - A Russian immigrant.
  • Gay Orlov - Another Russian immigrant. Died of a drug overdose.
  • Waldo Blunt - The pianist husband of Gay Orlov. A confidant of John Gilbert.
  • Claude Howard de Luz - Cousin of Freddie Howard de Luz.
  • Freddie Howard de Luz - Childhood friend of Pedro. Another confidant of Gilbert.
  • Robert - Groundskeeper of the Howard de Luz estate.


  • Rue des boutiques obscures, « Blanche » collection, Gallimard, 1978, (ISBN 2070283836)
  • Rue des boutiques obscures, « Folio » collection, Gallimard (nº 1358), 1982, (ISBN 2070373584)
  • Missing Person, translated by Daniel Weissbort, Jonathan Cape, 1980 (ISBN 0224017896); David R. Godine, 2004 (ISBN 1567922813)


  1. ^ Patrick Modiano, Missing Person (Cape, 1980) page 115.
  2. ^ Chi è Patrick Modiano?
  3. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 2014