The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère

Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale.

What makes a murderer? It is an endlessly fascinating subject we try to solve, try to find a way to give reason to the unreasonable. Analysis of true crime ranges from the engrossing to the dull and in the Adversary, Emmanuel Carrère takes on the story of Jean-Claude Romand, a book that is far from dull.

the adversary by emmanuel carrere“Acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, whose fiction John Updike described as “stunning” (The New Yorker) explores the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.” GoodReads.

Jean-Claude Romand was a master of disguise, a premier liar. He accumulated the money of others as his own, lied about his employment and studies, wore a veneer so carefully crafted no one knew that everything about him was a construct. And in January 1993 he killed his wife, children and parents.

Reading this book, you not only learn about his life leading up to the murders but Carrère’s growing ‘connection’ with Romand. After communicating with someone a strange bond begins to form, for Romand a friendship, for Carrere I suspect a strange acquaintance that lacks trust. Carrere begins the novel in two different ways and stops writing it twice. You sense the conflict he has writing the story, whether it is acceptable to tell the story of Romand. Carrère stays as objective as he is able to, but it is a concern for him that he may not be. It becomes a book oddly not only about Romand and what he has done but partially about how to even construct it.

The Adversary is translated from the French by Coverdale, a flawless (in my opinion, though I don’t speak French) translation that provoked the obvious conflict of feeling the author has while undertaking – and not undertaking – this project.


I requested this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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