Cover Image: Fear


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The premise of Fear appealed to me instantly -can you ever justify taking someone else’s life? In all honesty, this is a question I have genuinely pondered from time to time. I know that, in certain situations, I believe I would have no problem with committing murder. To read a psychological thriller that explores this question was something I simply had to try.

The story follows the ordeal undergone by Randolph Tiefenthaler, his wife Rebecca and their two children at the hands of Dieter Tiberius, their downstairs neighbour. Tiberius posts strange, suggestive notes through the Tiefenthalers’ door and the family quickly become afraid for their own safety. Then Tiberius begins accusing Randolph and Rebecca of sexually abusing their children and reporting them to the police. Suspicions start circulating and an investigation is launched to uncover the reasons behind Tiberius’ behaviour. However, the impact this has on the Tiefenthalers begins to trickle through the extended family, culminating in the ultimate crime to end it all. 

Fear is based on true events and this certainly shows in the narrative, as it reads almost like a memoir. The details are so vivid that they couldn’t possibly have been completely fabricated. This gives it an even more chilling edge that Kurbjuweit’s prologue introduces us to. Of course, this means that the story has a natural plausibility and makes it incredibly easy to see these characters are ordinary people in a truly extraordinary situation.

Throughout the book, we learn about Randolph’s childhood and relationships with his parents -mostly his father. Although I enjoyed getting this insight into his background, I felt that it was perhaps a little more detail than necessary. I appreciate that it certainly explained Randolph’s adult personality and quirks to some degree. However, the amount of backstory stalled the pace, which thriller fans vehemently dislike. When you pick up a thriller, you expect to be turning pages at top speed, collecting clues as you go. Fear doesn’t do this and therefore for a thriller, the first half feels slow. It picks up eventually, once we get into the details of Tiberius’ terrorising, but I wonder if many people would get far into it enough to find that out.

Randolph and Rebecca are experiencing marriage difficulties, prior to Tiberius. They seem to be drifting apart with Randolph avoiding the house and spending a lot of time alone, buried in his work. An incredibly interesting side effect to Tiberius launching his vicious attack is the increased closeness between Randolph and his wife. Their shared trauma appears to reunite them and their fear for each other’s wellbeing reignites the spark, putting new glue in their relationship. It reinforces the idea that sometimes an earth-shattering threat is what is needed, in order to realise the value of what you have. It’s a strange, small consolation for a family that have been through what the Tiefenthalers went through.

The power of rumour and unfounded suspicion is another important theme in Fear. Tiberius’ disgusting claims, which had no evidence, seem to have a huge impact on Randolph, Rebecca, their other neighbours and the police. Although the family have always been seen to be respectable, law-abiding citizens, one man’s erratic ideas appear to have erased all previous positive views of them. Suddenly, everyone begins questioning why Tiberius would say these things and the finger of blame falls on the family themselves. 

Randolph and Rebecca even begin doubting each other and both of them admit to wondering whether the other had been abusing the children that they both love with all their hearts. It begins to feel that Tiberius is creating a much bigger, more permanent mark than perhaps even he first intended. Although I thought it unlikely, I did consider the possibility that the victims may well be the true criminals in this case -which would have certainly made for an explosive ending!

The above question is what the events of Fear hinge on. There were lots of times when I wondered why they didn’t just move out but I always answered myself with ‘why should they? They’re not the ones in the wrong.’ Of course, the subsequent brutal murder of Tiberius wouldn’t have happened, had the Tiefenthalers simply moved. Perhaps their relationship wouldn’t have been mended and Tiberius would have been free to torment someone else. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easiest and this was a message that was left ringing in my ears.

Fear is a unique thriller in the sense that it really causes the reader to question their own morals. It’s also a deep exploration of family ties and the bonds that hold them together -how they can be broken and fixed through something as terrifying as trauma caused by someone who is perhaps even more damaged than their victim.
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I struggled with Fear. I tried to persevere but in the end I gave up on it. Disappointing as I thought it sounded like a great book.
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A very slow book. I found myself becoming distracted and had to recap a few times. That said it was still an enjoyable book with a great story.
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Enjoyed this book and the unique tone of the narration. It was quite obvious that it was translated but this adds something to the narration that makes it feel dark and a bit disturbing at times. It isn't your usual psych thriller and really hits home on the fear that the family experience as a result of their neighbour's actions. It's also quite unique in that the crime has been revealed at the beginning and the rest is how we get there. This means that as you're reading, you're constantly anticipating how the chain of events lead there. A thought provoking read that constantly challenges your thinking.
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I would like to thank NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book is about fear, a family is being terrorised by a neighbour. This neighbour started off friendly enough but after rejection turns on the family. It is set between the present and the past. The wrinting style really helps you to understand the family. It represents a parent's worst nightmare being accused of something you didn't do in relation to hurting your child!. This book I found a little slow and also I am not sure if something was lost in translation but I didn't feel it was tense enough for the title, don't get me wrong it was an easy read but it lacked something for me personally.
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This is a gripping psychological thriller that I could personally relate to having lived next door to neighbours from absolute hell, as I am sure a lot of other readers in the same situation.  It is well-written and a pleasure to read.  However, I am writing this review a couple of weeks after finishing the book, and i am struggling to recall the details, as they have already started to fade.  Do read it, but only a one-time book.
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This was… certainly an interesting read! And also very, very creepy. I didn’t know this, but apparently this book by German author Dirk Kurbjuweit has a) split opinion on both sides of the Channel Crossing, and b) been based on his real-life experience of being stalked by his neighbour.

For my part, I found it so unsettling, as we follow a family who is essentially attacked by their downstairs’ neighbour in a gradually escalating cycle of violence and fear. He reports Randolph and his wife to the police for child abuse. He writes erotic poems for them. He appears out of nowhere where the children are playing, peeling an apple with a very sharp knife at precisely the wrong moment. Yikes.

Watching the situation escalate, and this troubled family’s cracks grow ever wider thanks to the strain they’ve been put under, it’s a really fascinating and disturbing read. What would you do if you were put in the same position? Is violence in self-defence justified? And does the ending make you like the protagonist more or less? It’s a tightly written, claustrophobic novel that really gets under your skin, and though I didn’t really like Randolph (I challenge you to, really) understanding his motivations and backstory, as well as what he’s put through, certainly mean you understand where he’s coming from
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This was a well written book, that made sure to give you that unexpected twist.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.  I enjoyed the way the author wrote and was actually quite shocked by the way the story went.  
Will be using in a daily challenge, as well as recommending in Chapter Chatter Pub.  Thanks for the advanced reading copy'
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This book was certainly different from what i expected, but i absolutely loved it. Would recommend for sure, loved the style of writing. Great read 📚
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Found this story very easy to read, and quite addictive.
It's not fast paced, but draws you in and makes you think 
Didn't actually see the twist coming.

Thank you netgalley, Dick Kurbjuweit and Orion for allowing me to read and review this book.
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I read this book in a day, I just had to keep on turning the pages. 
This book is back to front, we know what happens and who was responsible. Then we go back in time, Randolph has been afraid all of his life. He is the narrator,  his father is obsessed with guns but he has been told that they are to protect his family. But why so many guns???
Randolph now has his own family and shares it with three other families. Rebecca is a stay at home mother. They have a neighbour who lives in the basement,  at first they try to be neighbourly. Then the gifts and notes start and finally the stalking.
They lived in FEAR twenty-four hours a day, their lives were made a living hell. Then one day enough no more.
This book is based on the true life experience of the author.
There are things in this book that will make you go cold. Will they be believed and how will the law treat them???
This book is terrifying because it could happen to anyone of us. The elements of tension and hints of impending doom were masterful.
This book is a slow burner but please stick with it.YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!!!!
I would like to thank the author Dirk Kurbjuweit, Orion Publishing Group and Net.galley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for giving an honest review.
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Randolph Tiefenthaler is a successful Berlin based architect. With his wife Rebecca and their two kids, they just moved into the stylish old houses of the German capital where they have find the seemingly perfect home. Yet, it doesn’t take too long until the neighbour from the basement, Dieter Tiberius, becomes more and more awkward and strange. He writes love letters to Rebecca, which is just annoying, but then he accuses her of child abuse and repeatedly calls the police to check on them. Randolph gets a lawyer, he contacts the youth welfare service, but there is nothing he can do to protect his family from the crazy man in the basement. The fear that he might attack his wife or hurt the children grows and with it the marriage become increasingly fragile. There nerves are on the edge until the day they cannot support it anymore and they need to help themselves to protect the family.

Dirk Kurbjuweit plays with the family idyll which is threatened in the core: the home. The loving father who has built the perfect life for himself and his wife, becomes suddenly incapable of action. He cannot protect his beloved, there is a danger close at hand that he cannot control and sees himself exposed defencelessly. The pressure which is on Randolph and Rebecca is palpable and you as a reader also feel the growing impression of being helpless, powerless and most of all vulnerable.

Even though from the start it is clear what the outcome of all will be, the thriller is full of suspense and the development of the plot gives you the creeps. Kurbjuweit has a very lively style of writing and making Randolph the narrator underlines the feeling of being a part of the story and makes it easy to sympathise with him and to commiserate with him.
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This book is captivating from page one till the end. Just the whole premise of your family being threatened and what you would do to protect them is a series of little nightmares.  

 Would definitely recommend this book.
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I started this knowing it was based on the author’s real life experience with a neighbour and it definitely added to the reading experience. We know the outcome at the beginning of the book and then the author leads us through the events that lead up to that point. I think I might have preferred not to know and it would have added to the tension. From the outside looking in it’s easy to judge what the author and his wife could have done differently to alleviate the situation and he does in fact point out a couple of them. This challenges your notion of right and wrong and how far you might go to protect your family. I can imagine it will have more impact on readers who have young children.
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Many thanks to Dirk Kurbjuweit, Orion and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Fear in return for an honest review.
  The book, set in Berlin, is told from Randolph Tiefenthaler's perspective.  It opens with Randolph visiting his 77 year old father, Hermann, in jail.  Randolph then begins to write the story of how his father was imprisoned for manslaughter.  But in order to fully appreciate this he tells the story of what led up to the death of Dieter Tiberius, Randolph's basement neighbour, at the hands of his father.
  Randolph lives with his wife and two children, a successful architect and loving father.  His relationship with his wife is not as strong as it used to be.  He seems to prefer his own company and is quite comfortable alone. This causes problems between the couple, but Randolph remains a loving and active father.
 Randolph writes about his childhood and his fathers apparent gun addiction.  Despite owning around 30 guns, Hermann shows no predilection for violence, Just a complete obsession for guns and shooting practice. Randolph is resentful of his fathers addiction. It is fair to say that there is a very strained relationship between Randolph and his father and he escapes to university at the first opportunity. It is here he meets Rebecca, his wife to be.  They marry and have two children and purchase the middle floor apartment in a Berlin building.  This is where Tiberius a seemingly harmless neighbour resides in the basement flat.
   At first Tiberius is very friendly to the Tiefenthaler family, bringing baked goods to them.  However, this soon escalates and more baked goods are offered and declarations of love towards Rebecca are made.  Soon this escalates with more letters and over the coming weeks and months, particularly vile accusations of child abuse are made against the family.  Rebecca, who is alone with the children for a lot of the time, is tormented and Randolph is urged to act.  Being a pacifist he shies away from most confrontational situations and seeks justice through the legal system.  Despite escalations in Tiberius's behaviour the legal system is unable to act or evict him from his home.  The family are left living in fear and at times they rather, horrifyingly, being to doubt each other.
  It reaches breaking point where they are living under constant fear of what might happen next.  Randolph does not speak with his father much but his mother is fully aware of the pressure he is under and he knows his father will be also aware via her.  It brings us to the critical breaking point where Hermann visits Randolph with his gun and Tiberius is shot.  The trial for murder begins, but this is soon downgraded to manslaughter.= and his father is jailed for eight years.  Randolph never fails to visit his father in jail.  The situation with Tiberius resolved, so to speak, leads to a growth in the relationship between Randolph and Rebecca and normality returning to the family home.  We are then met with a twist the tale which I did not see coming,  Very surprising and equally revealing.  
  This book is told entirely from Randolph's point of view.  It is beautifully written, translated from German to English.  It seems that none of the poignancy was lost in translation.  The book starts with the back story from childhood to current date.  It is slowly told, with attention to detail and easy to develop an understanding of why Randolph is the person he is today.  You can really empathise with Randolph and feel as if you know him, and in a way you do, as you grow to learn more about him as the book progresses  A wonderful work of literature. Questioning about what is right and wrong and whether Tiberius deserved to die.  That is the overwhelming question you are left with.  I really enjoyed this book.
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I really struggled with this book. It isn’t the usual type of book I read and wasn’t fast paced enough for me to want to continue reading. I did finish the book but i didn’t have a problem putting it down at the end of the evening
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4 stars from me

My word, what an interesting book!

Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit, has a lovely flow to it. It runs at a gentle pace and the prose is often really quite beautiful and intellectually stimulating. The depth in which the relationship between husband and wife is explored feels true and raw and is exquisitely reported. So many scenes in this book will resonate with readers.

The tale itself is quite simple, yet it will provoke great thought from readers as you imagine yourself in the surreal and horrible situation. With one question being the over riding theme: what would you do? 

I found myself likening Fear to old school literature - the gentle pace felt reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird and the commentary in my head had echoes of Green Mile.

Fear is a very good, gripping read - utterly different from most books out there in this genre - poses questions and provokes thought.
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The actions of an odd neighbour, taking over your whole life and every move. A couple with children, trapped in their home, accused of all kinds and game playing from an odd neighbour. What can you do? Be nice? Be friendly? Ignore him? Kick him out? Move?
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Any novel with the tag line "You'd die for your family, but would you kill for them?" is going to be one I pick up to read.

This German to English translation from author Dirk Kurbjuweit is loosely based on his own experience of being stalked. Having read that in the blurb before I picked it up, I was sure this was going to be an interesting read. It turned out to be interesting, terrifying, disturbing and more. It is one of those books that gets into your head. 

You know from the beginning of the novel that the protagonist's father is in prison and we learn what his crime was early on. For many books that would be the sum total of the plot. Not this one. It is an intense psychological thriller rather than an action thriller and it compels you to keep turning the pages. As you do, it becomes more and more disturbing. 

Having moved into an apartment in a relatively quiet neighbourhood, the last thing you expect to find is a stalker living in the basement. Initially latching on to the wife of the protagonist, Rebecca, his obsession becomes more and more intense. It quickly reaches the point where the entire family are being subjected to psychological torture that the law doesn't seem to be able to help with. When your children are scared all the time and your wife has passed the point where she can keep up appearances even for their sake, where do you turn? 

The book is well written with well developed characters. The fact that Kurbjuweit did live through some of these issues gives the writing an element of realism that isn't always present in books about the subject. It is perhaps because of this that the novel stayed in my head long after I finished reading it. I couldn't even write the review straight away as I simply had too many thoughts racing around. It isn't just that this is a psychological thriller, but that it asks questions of society about a range of divisive and emotive issues. I will be reading this again more than once. 

It is obvious that this is a translation and of course quality of translation does have a bearing on the narrative of any translated novel.  I will say that I think it is a great translation of an interesting and intense novel. Well worth picking up and reading.
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The blurb of this book grabbed me instantly, I love a thriller/mystery novel and usually tear through them within a day. However this seemed to be a slow burner. Lots of potential but little delivered compared to similar books! It covers issues that are massively important to me such as domestic abuse & the law but the narrator fails to make you actually give a shit about it from this perspective. Definitely worth a read but don't have high hopes.
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