Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

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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I was intrigued by the premise of this book about how far you’d go to protect your family. 
We meet Randolph at the beginning as he visits his father in jail. We know his father has shot Randolph’s neighbour. The story then goes back in time and we see the build-up to what led to the tragedy...
This has been aptly compared to Koch. I found the themes covered in the book relatable,  and the slow menacing build-up tense. While yes we do know what the ending is, and plotwise where it’s going, it didn’t take away from story. This was well-observed read about a neighbour from hell.
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Fear is  a compelling read.. It draws you in from the start  and throughout the story there is something  more to be revealed..A highly suspenseful read that throws some surprises.
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i was really disappointed with this read and i struggled with it, was a shame really as it started well but then seemed to change,  i was looking forward to reading it
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A rather unusual story.  Randolph, an architect and a happy father of two has a very middle class life until a neighbour in the basement below begins to stalk the family.  The story made me wonder how I would react if I was, for no reason, accused of abusing my children.  With no help from the authorities Randolph doesn't know how to handle such a situation.  The stalking leads him to evaluate his own childhood and his current relationship with his wife and children.  A very moving and a very troubling story.  The end is not what is expected!
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I am currently developing a section of the school library that will present a diverse and eclectic range of contemporary crime and thriller novels. This genre has been so popular in terms of what is being borrowed, but I feel like the young people are sticking to 'what they know' in terms of titles or writers that they've already heard of or have seen their parents reading. My mission is to include more novels like this one and improve the range and diversity of fiction that they can choose from in order to expand their reading horizons. I absolutely loved this book. It kept me gripped from the very first page and without giving away any spoilers, was a dark, intense and satisfying journey. I think that the young people will love its distinctive voice as well as be gripped by the story and intrigued to follow it to its tense conclusion. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for intelligent, credible writing with a strong hook that won't let you go. Treat yourself to Fear!
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It took a while to get used to the cadence and rhythm of Dirk Kurbjuweit's prose, but once I did it was fully immersive within the first person narrative of 'Fear'.
I think that the chosen mode, almost a stream of consciousness thread, suits the paranoia, the intensity and claustrophobic nature of the story.
It has a slow, creeping sense of danger and it keeps you reading as you aren't sure if the neighbour is stalking and harassing, as the narrator says he is, why is no one else seeing it? The perception of what is going on is affected by the foreword in which Dirk explains that he had a similar situation where his downstairs neighbour became a nightmare so you start the book with a sense of foreboding and an awareness that writing this was a cathartic process of sorts.
Creepy, chilling and full of menace it makes you think, 'How far and to what lengths would I go to to keep my family safe?'
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read this in return for an honest review.
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The description of this book drew me in; but I am afraid to say it did leave me disappointed. Parts of the book were interesting but I just did not find myself attached to the story or the characters.
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If your neighbour was making your families life a fearful nightmare, if they were making unfounded and vile accusations what would you do? Go to the police, a lawyer. What if they said nothing could be done? What would you do? What could fear drive you to?

Sounds exciting right? Wrong. If you're looking for a thriller or a mystery this isn't it. Within a few pages you're presented with the outcome, this is the story of how the narrator, Randolph,  got there. Literally the whole story from birth to the conclusion of the tale. Rather than a thriller it's more of a tale of a man who has been fearful all his life and his often fraught relationship with his family, both that he has created himself and the family he grew up with - especially his gun crazy father. So as a novel that is part drama part social commentary it's ok. But that isn't what I was expecting from the description so I was quite disappointed. But as the type of novel it really is it's OK, just not for me.
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3.5 stars
This was an unusual book, especially as it was loosely based on the author's personal experience. I found it an interesting read but hard work, perhaps due to the translation or may be it was just a little too slow for me.
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This is a German book brilliantly translated into English and as such is set in Germany amid the political background.

The book is brilliant in that you know the crime, reason and murderer very early on, but it still works superbly.

The way it jumps back to the beginning of the story is really well done and still entices you to read more.
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DNF @ 47%

Agghh, I’m so disappointed I had to put this book down as a DNF, but as I’m finding it exceedingly hard to focus on books, I really can’t waste any of my time on books that aren’t hooking me, and this one wasn’t!

I had huge hopes for this book, featuring it in various blogs at the end of last year, one being my “most anticipated books of 2018“! I really thought this one was going to be a fast-paced thriller that would challenge our morals and opinions, but no. It wasn’t like that at all.

This one started quite strong, jumping straight into the murder (not a spoiler, literally in the first chapter), so I thought this might be one of those stories that was told backwards (like Memento), but it wasn’t like that at all. After the initial excitement, this story slowed down straightaway. It flits between going back in time and the present day, which is normally not an issue with me, if something happens.

This book was so slow and just a commentary on a boring, uppity middle class man. There really wasn’t much focus on the “stalking” at all. In fact it felt like that part of the story lasted 3 seconds and then we were stuck reading about the narrator’s weird, paranoid dad and his loveless marriage.

I like character studies usually, but this one didn’t interest me. I got a fair way through this, so I think I gave it a good chance, but I couldn’t pull myself through it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. Sorry I didn’t like it!
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Gave up on this book. Found it disjoined and very ploddy. Did not grab the reader from the beginning
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My family is my life. I'd like to think that I'd do anything for them, particularly if their lives were threatened. But wouldn't we all? We'd all like to think that we are strong enough to stand up to a bully.

Fear isn't just about the terror inflicted on a family; it's about the family itself. This family is on the brink of destruction. Randolph and Rebecca want to appear to be a happy couple but once you scratch the surface of their relationship, there are cracks and not just hairline cracks. Will the actions of their odd neighbour (some may call him a nutcase) bring them together to fight the bully or will it drive a wedge into those cracks? 

I have to say I have mixed feelings about Fear. For me, it was a bit of a slow burner, it didn't quite get going to a pace I like when it comes to psychological thrillers. The story was there, it was well written but for me, it just didn't tick all the boxes a psychological thriller needs to complete. I know it has had some excellent reviews but it just didn't stand out for me.
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Randolph is an architect, and he lives in an apartment block with his wife Rebecca, and their two children. They live a happy, normal life, until the basement tenant, Dieter Tiberius, accuses them of sexual abuse towards their children, and starts to hound the wife with poems and accusatory letters. Their life starts to fall apart. They seek legal advice, but no-one can help them - not the police, nor the landlord, nor social services. Things become so fraught and desperate, that Randolph decides to take matters into his own hands.

All his life, Randolph has grown up surrounded by guns. His father always had them in the house, and Randolph was continually afraid that his dad would use them on him or his brother in a fit of rage. But it is now that Randolph turns to his dad for help.

The story sounds frightening enough as fiction, but the book is actually semi-autobiographical. The author has based the story on something that actually happened to  him in real life. The book is also about class war, the justice system, and politics in Berlin during the 70s and 80s. In fact, I'd say that more than just background information, it takes over the whole story. There is more in the book about family relationships and class wars than there is about the actual incident. It's also a shame about the cover - it looks like just another crime thriller novel, and it doesn't mention on the cover that it's based on a true story.

I quite enjoyed the story, but I got a bit bored with the political argument sections, and I also got so frustrated with the lack of help that Randolph and his family were getting in the face of such harrassment.
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Faced with threats and allegations from a tenant in his building Randolph needs to protect his family, defend a troubled marraige and find a way to deal with the accuser. Character builds are quite good, the idea is interesting but the story drifts a little in places and never really grips the  reader fully.
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I was completely gripped by this story and thought the quality of writing was of a really high standard. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Thank you.
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