Had The Adversary been a work of fiction, it may well have gone unpublished – the plot is completely unbelievable, the characters are impossibly inept, and the conclusion seems incredible. What makes The Adversary worth reading is the fact that it is, indeed, a true story. Truth, it seems, really is stranger than fiction.
The Adversary, first published in France under the title L’Adverssaire, is a look into the life of Jean-Claude Romand, who murdered his wife, children and parents in 1993. The question of “who done it” is never a question at all; in fact, Romand’s guilt is acknowledged in the very first sentence. What The Adversary attempts to uncover is “Why?” What compelled Romand, a successful researcher employed by the World Health Organization and a staff physician at a Paris hospital, to murder the family that he had seemingly always adored?
As the investigation into Romand’s life unfolds, it becomes readily apparent that the man known to his friends as a “gentle, humble soul” has managed, through a series of seemingly impossible coincidences and implausible lies, to deceive his friends and family about every aspect of his life for more than twenty years. As with every web of deception, however, Romand’s façade finally begins to shatter. In a desperate effort to hold on to the persona he has created, Romand attempts the ultimate deception, sacrificing the very people who love him the most in the process.
Award-winning author Emmanuel Carrère does an excellent job providing a complete picture of Romand’s life without bogging the story down with too much focus on the mechanics of the investigation and trial. The result is a compelling tale that captivates the reader’s attention from the very first page.