Kate, a journalist in a small northern town, is fed up with covering black pudding championships for the Slackmucklethwaite Mercury and living with Mum, Dad and Gran in a semi called Wits End. When evil tycoon Peter Hardstone takes over the paper, slashes budgets and sacks staff, Kate's career hits an all-time low. Gloom turns to glamour once Hardstone's sexy son arrives to work on the Mercury. And when Kate's sent with him to cover the glittering Cannes Film Festival, she can't believe her luck. But it's not all fun and games: behind the glitz and sunshine lies a dark mystery that is Kate's most challenging newspaper assignment yet.
Predictable plot turns and humorless puns abound in Holden's superficial satire (after Gossip Hound, etc.), which starts out as a promising tale of a smalltown reporter's attempt to break out of her sleepy English hometown and quickly devolves into a colorful but clich d farce crowded with outlandish caricatures and unlikely goings-on. Kate Clegg, the slightly plump senior reporter for the Slackmucklewaite Mercury (more often referred to as "the Mockery"), longs to have the exciting life of a London reporter, but barring that, she'll settle for covering sleepy stories by day and penning her racy book, Northern Gigolo, by night. Aspiring actor Nat Hardstone, the gorgeous son of her callous new boss, may be the answer to one of her more scandalous dreams. Not only does he want to shake the dust of Slackmucklewaite off his shoes, but he wants to take her with him to the C te d'Azur for the Cannes Film Festival. Though it's obvious that Nat is as shallow and scheming as his father he makes her foot the bill at a fancy restaurant and then presses her to front the money for his plane ticket Kate rides his coattails to the south of France and is promptly abandoned. But with the help of a few friendly strangers, she finds love and scandal in a French town eerily similar to the English one she just left. By the end of the novel, Kate is as clueless as when she started her unlikely adventure, and readers will have as little sympathy for her as they do for Nat and his impossibly small-minded acquaintance, Champagne D'vyne.