“On the Saturday morning of January 9, 1993, while Jean-Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was with mine in a parent-teacher meeting.” So Emmanuel Carrere, acclaimed master of psychological suspense, begins this riveting tale of unfathomable deception. Who could have imagined Romand as a murderer? He was, after all, a noted physician at the World Health Organization, a groundbreaking researcher with connections to international humanitarians, a financial wizard entrusted with his in-laws’ savings, a loving son who called his parents every evening. If there was a problem, no one knew it. As it turned out, there were many: Romand had no medical degree; he had no job; he knew no one famous; he had spent his in-laws’ money. And when a relative went to break the terrible news about Romand’s wife and children to his parents, they too were dead — murdered by the stranger who had been their son.
A mesmerizing account of the hundreds of daily lies that propelled one man’s life, The Adversary — another name for the Devil in the Bible — is also a meditation on the mystery of identity, evil, and the desperate logic by which it is easier to kill than to confess.
I’m obsessed with true crime novels. There, I said it. I just find them so fascinating, especially when you find a book about a crime / criminal you’ve never heard of before… Introducing Jean-Claude Romand. A narcissistic liar and cheater who swindled his family out of all their money, lied to them about who he really was for 18 years and then murdered them. This sounds like something out of a fictional novel, but ladies & gents, this is all 100% real.
Maybe my 5 star rating is a little bias because I love true crime so much, but this book ticked all the boxes for me. Firstly, it was about such a bizarre and extraordinary crime, I was enthralled by every part of it, and secondly Carrère writes in such a simple and beautiful way that you forget you’re reading fact.
What astounds me so much about this novel is its subject. Jean-Claude Romand lived 18 years of his life (that’s only 2 years younger than I am right now) living a lie. How does a person get away with lying about everything for 18 years without getting caught? I can’t go into much detail in this review, otherwise I’m just going to spoil the whole thing, and once I get talking about it, I’ll never stop. But I mean really, how his friends & family trusted this man so much as to believe everything he said… amazes me. However, it’s also made me very aware that you don’t question the people you trust, I’m sure people could get away with so much before anyone noticed!
This book is incredible, shocking and mind-boggling. It reads like poetry but it packs a very real punch. I loved it! If you’re a true crime fan, like myself, pick this one up quick!
Thank you to Penguin Random House UK & Vintage for sending me an arc copy for review.