An incompetent French detective is assigned to solve a murder and the theft of the Pink Panther diamond. Closeau is a comical, clumsy, and stupid inspector assigned to a case by the Police Chief Dreyfuss to throw-off the media and to solve the case himself. Dreyfuss assigns Closeau a partner, Ponton, basically to spy on him and babysit. The crime to be solved is the murder of a French soccer coach Gluant, killed in the stadium during a match between France and China. Gluant was shot with a poison dart, and his pink diamond ring, The Pink Panther, turns up missing. Later, a French footballer Bizu is killed in the team's locker room. Meanwhile, Dreyfuss learns that the poison dart has Chinese herbal origins, leading him to suspect a Chinese diplomat. Closeau and Ponton on the other hand suspect Xania, Gluant's girlfriend as the killer, since she had an affair with Bizu. The two track her down to New York City, and Xania acts oddly, like she's hiding something. On the way back to France, Dreyfuss arranges Closeau to be detained for illegal possession of weapons and firearms, a tactic to stall Closeau while he closes in on his prime suspect. In Paris at a ball, Dreyfuss plans his arrest of the Chinese diplomat. Xania is there as well, slated to perform for the event. Closeau and Ponton gatecrash the party to stop an assassination attempt on Xania, and reveal the real killer, Yuri, the Russian soccer trainer. Yuri hated Gluant who belittled his role in the soccer organization and resented Xania for turning him down when he made a pass at her. As for the diamond, Closeau reveals that it was with Xania all along, given to her as an engagement ring before Gluant died. Closeau is declared a hero, while Dreyfuss sulks from the surprising turn of events.
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Best part of story, including ending:
For the slapstick comedy best delivered by Steve Martin.
Best scene in story:
When Closeau is given English lessons, and cannot for the life of him pronounce "hamburger."
Opinion about the main character:
Closeau is a clown who thinks he's a superhero. He's unqualified to do the job but succeeds anyway.