Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Adversary – Emmanuel Carrère


In line with my exploration of the various forms that true-crime books are served up for consumption I was delighted to receive a copy of this book from fellow blogger damppebbles, especially as I found it 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 set fire to his house after taking some pills. Jean-Claude was soon rescued by the local fire service and questioned by the police. The murders took place in January 1993 and Emmaunel Jean-Claude Romand started corresponding with the murderer after his conviction in 1996, the results are the Adversary.

Not only is this a chilling crime, the root of it is bizarre as the need to kill his family stems from a lie Jean-Claude told when he was still a teenager, engaged in a medical degree and a second year exam which he never sat. From that moment on, he acted to friends and family as if he had passed his degree and was therefore a qualified doctor, so sought after that by the time of the murders he was purportedly a researcher for the World Health Organisation (the WHO), but it was all lies. Obviously, since his days were spent pretending to work, visiting libraries and walking, he needed some hard cash and the second strand of his deception was to encourage his friends and family to invest in hedge funds and foreign ventures. This supplemented his wife’s salary and the pair had the kind of lifestyle others would envy.

The construct of this true-crime book is as if it were a novel which makes it incredibly readable, it starts with the killer sentence that can’t help but grab your attention:

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…’

From here the back story of Jean-Claude is painstakingly built up and the author illustrates his struggle to stay objective which works for the reader as you get a feel of the pull of the lies this criminal can tell whilst being seemingly plausible and the more worthy outcome of our author not giving him the kudos he so obviously craves. It’s fascinating to see the various change in presentation the author uses, earlier in the book there are some explanations about the character, some attempts to understand his actions until later more of the points which the author presents starkly on the page and then stands back and lets the reader join the dots themselves.

This is a short book but it certainly doesn’t feel rushed, in fact I felt that if we had heard much more about the subject, a killer and a con man, it would have felt that we were feeding his narcissism even more than the book’s publication has probably already done. A fascinating exploration of this French criminal that I’d never heard of, and a story that sounds more unbelievable than much of the crime fiction I read.

First Published UK: 6 July 2017
Publisher: Vintage
No of Pages: 208
Genre: Non-Fiction – True Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US


Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 27)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham, a standalone psychological thriller.


Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it’s Meghan Shaughnessy’s.

These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common – a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.

Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

The compelling new psychological thriller that will break your heart into tiny pieces, from world-renowned author MICHAEL ROBOTHAM. Amazon

The last book I read was The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère, possibly the most chilling read of the year so far for me.



With these chilling first words, acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, begins his exploration of the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go. Amazon

Next up is some crime fiction with The Last Thread by Ray Britain who wrote this book following a highly successful career in policing in the UK.


Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location and the discovery of a burnt out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. Short of experienced senior investigators, ACC Steph Tanner has no choice but to take a professional risk. Throwing Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation, Tanner appoints him as SIO to lead the investigation.

But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many ‘loose threads’ as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation?
Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow? Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (August 20)

Weekly Wrap Up

A year on from my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding which has seen them become proud home-owners and cat guardians, they are off on holiday which means I am in charge of Bertie who truth be told has turned out to be a total scardey cat and needy to boot. Not that my daughter minds as she is totally besotted, she even forgave him when he didn’t like the latest in a long line of catty presents! This photo came with the message, “I don’t think Bertie likes his bow-tie”, but you’ll note as any self-respecting cat he understands that he must have his photo taken before it could be removed! Poor Bertie and poor me because I fear the enormous responsibility ahead!

It’s also meant that I had a hasty message saying she needed some books to read on holiday and then proceeded to quiz me on why I only have book number x in this series and why this book isn’t shelved over there by that one… she clearly takes after her mother though as she’s taken ten and is sacrificing clothes for book room in the suitcase. So by rights I currently don’t own a fair few that I will include in my TBR count at the end of this post!

This Week on the Blog

I’ve been finally writing some of the (very) outstanding reviews in my bid to have all my 20 books read and reviewed by the deadline for 20 Books of Summer Challenge, which is two weeks today, but I started the week with my review for Sophie Hannah’s latest book Did You See Melody? which will be published on Thursday 24 August 2017.

On Tuesday my excerpt post was from Each Little Lie by Tom Bale which I hope to get around to reading very soon.

This Week in Books saw me highlighting books that were all set, at least in part, in the past and included the authors; Eve Chase, Julie Summers and Ann O’Loughlin.

On Thursday I reviewed the first of two non-fiction true crime books, The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe. This book features a serial killer in prison who corresponds with a journalist and is part true-crime/part memoir.

Thursday was also the day I appeared on Christine’s blog, Northern Crime, with my choice of summer crime read – you can read all about my choice here.  This series of posts is wonderful as bloggers have come up with a wide variety of choices which goes some way in making up for the amount of rain that has poured from the sky lately! If you haven’t already done so do check out Top Crime Bloggers recommend summer #crime reads 2017

On Friday my review of The Ripper of Waterloo Road by Jan Bondeson took me further back in time to 1838 (fifty years before Jack the Ripper) featuring the murder of Eliza Grimwood which despite the New Police’s best efforts was never solved.

Yesterday I reviewed Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie, it now being a tradition to have a least one of  The Queen of Crime’s books in the challenge. To my delight I didn’t remember anything about this book at all so needless to say, I didn’t solve the puzzle.

This Time Last Year…

Well in truth I probably had no time to be reading but the spreadsheet tells me that the last book I finished before the wedding was You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz and it’s a book I’m even fonder of in retrospect, being a clever look at those people who think they know best! In short Grace Sachs is a marriage counsellor who thinks that women shouldn’t hook up with unsuitable men and so has written a book telling them how to spot them – far better than turning to her years down the line and complaining when the clues were already there. And then Grace finds out her husband Jonathan isn’t exactly who she thought he was… A book full of observations and frighteningly accurate characterisation.

You can read my full review here or alternatively click on the book cover


Grace Sachs, a happily married therapist with a young son, thinks she knows everything about women, men and marriage. She is about to publish a book called You Should Have Known, based on her pet theory: women don’t value their intuition about what men are really like, leading to serious trouble later on.
But how well does Grace know her own husband? She is about to find out, and in the place of what she thought she knew, there will be a violent death, a missing husband, and a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for herself and her child. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves


I was hugely grateful to receive a copy of Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister having enjoyed Everything But the Truth by this author earlier this year. Anything You Do Say will be published on 25 January 2018.


Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home.
Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone.
Hearing the steps speed up, Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps to lie motionless on the floor. Now Joanna has to make a decision: Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong? NetGalley

Emma from damppebbles is a truly wonderful woman and she posted me a duplicate copy of The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère which was published back in July – this sounds brilliant and I can’t wait to read it.



With these chilling first words, acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, begins his exploration of the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.

‘As a writer, Carrère is straight berserk; as a storyteller he is so freakishly talented, so unassuming in grace and power that you only realize the hold he’s got on you when you attempt to pull away… You say: True crime and literature? I don’t believe it. I say: Believe it’ Junot Díaz Amazon

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley which is the third in the DS Claire Boyle series, having loved the first Can Anybody Help Me? I now really need to purchase the second book, Are You Watching Me?, so expect to see that here soon!

What happened between Eileen and Heather to make Eileen so determined to ruin her old friend? Claire Boyle must dig up the secrets from their pasts to find out – and quickly, because Leah is still missing, and time is running out to save her. Amazon

I’m ending my stacking the shelves on a high this week with The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie by David Hastings which is courtesy of Ngaio Marsh Awards in New Zealand – they have asked little old me to be part of their blog tour to highlight the finalists. To say I was thrilled was an understatement and even better the book they matched me with is true crime (my current reading obsession) which is absolutely perfect. Craig Sisterson you made my week!!


Dreadful murder at Opunake’, said the Taranaki Herald, ‘Shocking outrage’, cried the Evening Post in Wellington when they learned in November 1880 that a young woman called Mary Dobie had been found lying under a flax bush near Opunake on the Taranaki coast with her throat cut so deep her head was almost severed.

In the midst of tensions between Maori and Pakeha, the murder ignited questions: Pakeha feared it was an act of political terrorism in response to the state’s determination to take the land of the tribes in the region. Maori thought it would be the cue for the state to use force against them, especially the pacifist settlement at Parihaka.

Was it rape or robbery, was the killer Maori or Pakeha? In this book, David Hastings takes us back to that lonely road on the Taranaki coast in nineteenth-century New Zealand to unravels the many deaths of Mary Dobie – the murder, the social tensions in Taranaki, the hunt for the killer and the lessons that Maori and Pakeha learnt about the murder and about themselves. Amazon

What have you added to your shelves this week? What do you think of my finds?


Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 6!
The current total is therefore hurtling in an upwards direction to 182
Physical Books – 101
Kindle Books – 62
NetGalley Books – 19