Jean-Claude Romand was a wealthy, white-collar Frenchman; married with two children, he worked as a doctor for the World Health Organisation in Geneva. Or so he said. In fact, he'd never graduated from medical school, or held down a job, and lived off savings he'd weaseled out of his parents, in-laws and mistress, to whom he'd promised huge returns on covert investments. About to be found out, he opted not to confess, but to kill his entire family, dog included, then burn his house to the ground.
Two brilliant works of art have emerged in France from the tragedy. A gripping, slippery memoir by the novelist Emmanuel Carrère, The Adversary, based partly on his correspondences with Romand in a