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El adversario

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  10,398 ratings  ·  948 reviews
El 9 de enero de 1993 un hombre, llamado Jean-Claude Romand, mató a su esposa, sus hijos, sus padres y su perro. Luego intentó suicidarse. Sin éxito. A lo largo de varias décadas, Romand había establecido la ficción que era médico y que colaboraba con prestigiosos estamentos internacionales como la OMS. Mentía desde los dieciocho años y había logrado montar una verdadera a ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published May 2011 by Anagrama (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  10,398 ratings  ·  948 reviews

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Steven Godin
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, non-fiction
I promise to give my honest opinion on this book, and not tell a bag of lies.

Jean-Claude Romand turned out to be just about the biggest impostor I have ever come across. And the ultimate question is - How did this lovable family man get away with telling so many fibs about his life for so long? The people closest to him seemed of sound mind, but never aroused suspicion on all the horse pucky he was feeding them. The initial facts are extraordinary enough on what he got away with, that lead up to
Crème de la Crime

Jean-Claude Romand killed his wife, two children and his mother and father in a French village not far from Geneva in 1993. Six years later Emmanuel Carrère finished a book about the murders. This is all we know for sure: the dead bodies, the book and the chronology of two sets of events. And therein lies the mystery posed by Carrère.

Is the book fact or fiction? Carrère makes it purposely ambiguous by telling the reader that his ambitions to write a psychological assessment of R
Adam Dalva
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compulsive book - I read it like I would a particularly good internet article, staying up late to get to the (somewhat abrupt) end. Carrere's style is understated and good here, and though his occasional digressions into religion disrupt the flow of the action, he knows enough to get out of the way and let the story tell itself. The opening:

"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 at the s
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a psychological inquiry! OMG.

This was read in a two sit down frenzy. I slowed down at certain points. Not only because it was so mesmerizing but because it was an ILL book that someone had underlined and star highlighted with incredible precision. ABSOLUTELY sure it was a Psychology Major or someone that was using this for a paper or case study.

It is. Incredible history for this man and what he pulled off for a period of 18 years would not be considered possible in nearly any other scenario
Zuky the BookBum
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 beca
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, 2019
Comprehending the incomprehensible...

On January 9th, 1993, Jean-Claude Romand killed his wife, his two young children and his parents and then failed to kill himself. Emmanuel Carrère tells us that, on reading about the case as it was splashed all over the newspapers, he quickly decided to write about it. It wasn’t the facts that interested him so much, though – he wanted to understand what went on Romand’s head. By corresponding with Romand, talking to his friends and neighbours, attending his
On a cold January day in 1993 in a small town in northern France, Jean Claude Romand, a respected physician who worked for the World Health Organization, murdered his wife and two small children. He then drove to the home of his parents and murdered them.

As police began an investigation into the murders, they discovered that for eighteen years, Romand had duped everyone. He was neither a doctor nor did he work for the World Health Organization. In fact, he had no job at all! He was able to braz
Will Dean
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Adversary takes it title from a name for a devil-like creature that is the opponent of God, and thus of Good. I wouldn't say exactly the capital-D Devil from certain Christian mythologies but a very Lucifer figure, i.e. the opponent of God, although in this case Carrère also means a creature of pure evil and more in line the with gnostic mythology of opposing good and evil gods. Ostensibly, the focus of the title, and the book, is Jean-Claude Romand, a failed medical student who constructs a ...more
Book Riot Community
I came to this book when I heard it billed as “France’s In Cold Blood.” It’s a good comparison, but the crime described could not be more different. While the killers in Capote’s book were basically just lowlifes, the villain at the center of The Adversary is frighteningly intelligent, and frighteningly blank inside. I don’t want to say too much, but the book begins with a house fire. Inside, are the bodies of a mother, two children, and the father. But it is quickly determined that the father, ...more
Ruben Vermeeren

Maybe I am generalising, but the French just seem really good at short documentary-like novels, letting the facts speak for themselves with here and there a spot-on metaphor and keeping the emotional and lyrical digressions to a minimum. Olivier Guez and Eric Vuillard were later examples that I read earlier this year (and to some extent Binet is as well). I like it a lot, but maybe even more so because it allows me (average French speaker) to enjoy and read without trouble, even thought the t
Roman Clodia
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How could we have lived beside this man for so long without suspecting a thing?

An utterly compelling tour-de-force as Carrere offers a wonderfully complicated account of the long-term imposter, Jean-Claude Romand, who ends by massacring his entire family to avoid being caught out. That's a vast over-simplification of a book which is thoughtful, gripping, and which itself grapples with both how to tell Romand's story and how to make sense of it.

Carrere keeps things tense and taut (the book is c.
Ross Blocher
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Adversary, originally in French, is the horrifying true story of Jean-Claude Romand, a man who lied to family and friends for 18 years and then murdered his wife, children and parents when his lies ceased to be sustainable. Romand never passed his second year medical exams, but found a loophole to keep his university enrollment active for roughly a decade, pretended to be a researcher with the World Health Organization, and covered for his lack of income by pulling money from family and frie ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The case of Jean-Claude Romand is one I hadn’t heard of before, so everything I learned in this book was new information to me. Romand was a narcissistic liar, who deceived everyone for eighteen years before committing murder.

This is nonfiction, but it almost suspends belief – I was so engrossed in this read, when you read about the life of Romand, you’ll understand why. I’m purposely not telling you exactly what all the lies were because I think it’s a much more powerful read if you discover th
The author undertakes a difficult task in trying to understand the dark forces which drove Jean-Claude Romand to murder his wife, children and parents. More bizarrely was how to unravel JCR's life where to his family and friends he was an above average student and then a successful medical researcher in the WHO. But he had not passed second year of medical school nor had ever a paid job; he lived off income from investments he made on behalf of family members. Over 18 years he lived a lie.
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-intent
An amazingly wrenching and disturbing true-crime story about a man who stops attending med school almost immediately (after he oversleeps an exam, I believe), but pretends to continue going to classes, graduate and eventually become a successful researcher at the WHO, all the while marrying and having two kids who never have a clue of his double life. His lies are painful to read about, both because of their consequences and because it makes you consider the mind that saw this option as the most ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel contains the top writing possible in the genre of true crime. It revolves around a particularly shocking and gruesome French case from the '90s, in which a very respectable doctor murdered his wife, two young children and his parents. Carrere does not only tell us the full story and the unbelievable details that accompany it, but goes in deep into the psychological and social background that has brought on the events, as well as takes a "meta" look into his own involvement and role as ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars


This has to be one of the most interesting and fucked up story I had the pleasure to read. Barely 200 pages in length and it covered so much of Jean-Claude Romand's story & life that it left me stunned. The fact that he lied for 18 years without anyone even suspecting of it is just pure madness.

Definitely a must read!
Mayke ☕️
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look for this review and others on my blog (bio).
This book was provided by Netgalley and Random House UK in exchange for an honest review.

This book was an amazingly written book. A disgusting, terrible story, which has been told really well by the author. How can a man have such a life that's one big lie?
This is a fascinating story that grips until the last section. It lost its way discussing the protagonist's spiritual awakening. I would have liked to learn more about what happened to Corinne after she survived her attack and the trial.
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
I don't read true crime to be honest, so this one was unusual. Wasn't the biggest fan of it to be honest!
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, july-2018
I really enjoy true crime as a genre, and after reading Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark, I have been making more of a concerted effort to read it. I was swept into Emmanuel Carrere's The Adversary immediately. Throughout, the author recounts the case of Jean-Claude Romand, a pathological liar, who masqueraded as a doctor for 18 years. He killed his wife, Florence, and children, Antoine and Caroline, before going on to murder his parents and their dog, in the Alps in January 1993, ju ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting my wig to be snatched right off my head, unfortunately this book just left my lace-front slightly displaced.
Tanuj Solanki
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000, netgalley, french, e-book
Carrère's project is not just an act of chronicling a mass murderer's life from childhood to final monstrous act and thereafter, but also an engagement with questions that many of his readers shall no doubt have - "what does building a narrative do to our understanding of evil"? - "should we, really, try and understand evil?" - "is understanding it really possible?" - et cetera. Jean-Claude Romand, the fraud and murderer in question here, is seen as a human being by Carrère, which is to say that ...more
Peter Landau
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a father of three, I was very excited to read this true-crime book about a father who kills his wife, children and parents. THE ADVERSARY: A TRUE STORY OF MONSTROUS DECEPTION, by French writer Emmanuel Carrère, isn’t a sick fantasy nor is it a portrait of a psychopath as much as it’s a tale of lies that take the subject on a course of action that is horrible. What’s worse is that any one of us who has told an untruth, meaning all of us, could at some point in this story relate to the white li ...more
Ellie M
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctor, liar, con-artist, fraudster and murderer - over a period of 18 years one French man managed to trick his wife, family and friends into believing he was a Doctor at a prestigious medical organisation and defrauded family and friends out of a considerable sum in order to fund his seemingly ordinary life and his more extravagant life with his mistress. He murdered his wife, children and parents when it all started unraveling for him. I'm not generally a reader of true crime but have to say ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The true story of a man who faked his life to everyone around him for 18 years and ended up killing his parents, wife and children, reads like a pacey crime novel - you often need to stop and remind yourself it's not fiction. However I felt that the author could have taken a bit more of a creative risk with it, or even explored why is he personally so fascinated with the story. He only briefly mentions he feels slightly ashamed of his own interest and I wished he'd push a bit more in that direct ...more
Tracy Fenton
An in-depth account of a horrendous true crime.

Whilst the book was well researched and told in a mainly impartial way, I found towards the end I skimmed the pages and was left feeling slightly disappointed that the explanations and reasoning behind these truly horrendous crimes were never really explored.
Joanna Flis
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No. No. No.
Cleopatra  Pullen
This has to be one of the most disturbing books I’ve read for a long time. Not because the crimes are any more or less horrific than some of the others I’ve explored but because the story is so well told by Emmanuel Carrère that I kept forgetting this wasn’t fiction and so found myself horrified all over again when I remembered, this really did happen.

Jean-Claude Romand was convicted for killing his wife, two children and his parents in separate and seemingly well thought-out attacks, he then se
Stephen Durrant
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1993 Jean-Claude Romand murdered his wife, two children and both parents in what has become one of the most notorious crimes in recent French history. It was not just the violence of the murders that drew public attention but the fact that Romand had lived a double life for eighteen years. His family and friends, and he was by all accounts both a "good" father and a "good" friend, all believed he was a medical doctor and held a prominent research position just across the border in Geneva at t ...more
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Emmanuel Carrère is a French author, screenwriter, and director. He is the son of Louis Carrère d'Encausse and French historian Hélène Carrère d'Encausse.

Carrère studied at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (better known as Sciences Po). Much of his writing, both fiction and nonfiction, centers around the primary themes of the interrogation of identity, the development of illusion, and the

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