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Too mortified to admit that he has missed a crucial medical school exam, Jean-Claude Romand decides instead to lie. It's the pitiful act of a desperate man that turns into a full-time charade, and as the lies pile up Romand manages to convince everyone--his wife, best friend, parents, in-laws, and mistress--that he is a doctor with the World Health Organization. When it all starts to unravel some 18 years later, Romand tries to cover up his deception by killing his family and making a feeble attempt at killing himself. The Adversary is a haunting, incredible story, superbly told by Emmanuel Carrère, a fellow Frenchman who goes beyond the obvious speculation to pursue Romand's psychological inner workings. Is it torment and guilt that haunts Romand as he spends his days reading newspapers and taking notes in remote cafés, holing up in airport hotels to feign business trips, and living off of his relatives' money on the pretence that he is investing it for them? Or is there a deeper evil that makes it possible for him to live in this web of deception, forever on the edge of discovery? Carrère, who developed a relationship with Romand before and after the high-profile 1990s trial, inserts his own thoughts as he retraces Romand's path. The writing, flush with biblical and philosophical references, is graceful and thought-provoking. You'll catch yourself reading passages over and over. It's a thinking person's In Cold Blood, only more chilling because the killer comes from within. --Jodi Mailander Farrell [via]