In the first part, "Anatomy of a Plot", the reasons and motive for
the assassination are described. The Jackal has his first and only
meeting in Vienna
with three OAS leaders and discusses the price of the kill. The rest of
the part describes how the Jackal researches information on Charles de
Gaulle while in England, the layout of Paris in a reconnaissance trip
there, and describes the weapon he plans to use. Little information is
given about the nature of his plan, however. The Jackal sets up
multiple false identities and disguises by forging and stealing passports, driving licenses and identity cards.
The second part, "Anatomy of a Manhunt", shows how French
Intelligence finds out about the OAS plan and how Inspector Claude
Lebel, a French detective handpicked to find the Jackal, goes about the
task of preventing the assassination. In the meantime the French
ministers debate whether or not to inform de Gaulle (who is notoriously
careless of his personal safety) about the plan.
Pressured by his superiors, Lebel does everything he can to discover the Jackal's identity. He calls upon his "old boy network"
of foreign intelligence and police contacts to inquire if they have any
records on such a man. He is finally given the name of a suspect,
Charles Harold Calthrop, from British Intelligence,
who have it on their list of possible assassins-for-hire and find a
match living in London. They raid Calthrop's flat and find him gone,
but deduce he must be traveling on a false passport because they
recover his in their search.
The French police get close to the Jackal a few times, as the
British work out both names of false passports, but he manages to evade
capture. The Jackal's OAS informant leaks information from the French
government to the Jackal, allowing him to remain one step ahead of the
police, sometimes by just minutes.
In the last part, "Anatomy of a Kill", Lebel realises that there is
one day drawing near on which de Gaulle will insist on making a
scheduled public appearance: Liberation Day, on the 25th of August, commemorating the liberation of Paris
during World War II. Despite police safeguards, the Jackal manages to
make his way into Paris. He first kills a woman, then later a man, both
of whom he sexually seduces to hide in their residences.
As the Liberation Day celebrations begin, the French police are more
alert than ever. The Jackal, disguised as a one-legged war veteran with
his gun concealed in a crutch, passes the police checkpoint and makes
his way to a building which faces the Place du 18 Juin 1940 where de Gaulle will present veterans with medals. He positions himself, readies his small, custom-made sniper rifle, and aims at de Gaulle.
However, the Jackal fails to take into account the Gallic custom of kissing on both cheeks,
expecting instead that de Gaulle will shake hands with the medal
recipient. As the Jackal fires, de Gaulle simultaneously moves forward
and bends down to kiss the (much shorter) recipient on the cheeks,
causing the bullet to miss.
Lebel, meanwhile, enquiring at the checkpoints, surmises that the
war veteran with the aluminium crutch is actually the Jackal. He and a CRS officer Pierre Valremy, portrayed by(Philippe Léotard
in the 1973 film) rush up to the apartment. When they burst in, the
Jackal turns his gun around and the young policeman is killed by the
bullet intended for the president.
At last coming face to face, the killer and the detective - who had
formed a grudging respect for each other during the long chase - for a
brief moment look into each other's eyes, the one saying "Chacal" and
the other responding "Lebel", before scrambling to kill each other. The
Jackal must insert a new bullet into his non-automatic sniper's rifle,
Lebel must pick up from the floor the dead officer's MAT-49 submachine-gun. Lebel is a split-second earlier, and the Jackal is shot with half of a magazine and dies instantly.
With the appearance of the real Charles Calthrop, it becomes
apparent that no one knows who the Jackal really was. Thomas ask "If
the Jackal wasn't Calthrop, then who the hell was he?" The British
authorities deny any possibility of the Jackal being a British citizen,
so the funeral is classified as that of "an unknown foreign tourist,
killed in a car accident," with only Claude Lebel in attendance.
"The Day of The Jackal was over."