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Fear: A Novel Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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“Fear shifts our moral codes. It makes us accessories to murder. A great achievement.” (Herman Koch, author of The Dinner)
“Cerebral crime fiction with an ethical core.” (Michele Leber, Booklist)
“Its layers of paranoia and memories are brilliantly done to play on every parent’s deepest fears.” (Fiona Barton, author of The Widow)
“Such great writing, evoking a domestic landscape as creepy as the man in the basement downstairs.... An unsettling tale of merciless self-scrutiny.” (Renee Knight, author of Disclaimer)
“A neighbor goes from sort-of-strange to seriously scary in this gripping German thriller.... You’ll be turning pages to learn how the psychological torture will end.” (AARP Magazine)
“Unsettling…. Kurbjuweit generates suspense by making the reader wonder what exactly precipitates Dieter’s killing, who is really responsible, and what the reader might do in the Tiefenthalers’ place.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“Fear is a smart, psychologically complex and morally acute fable decked out in the garb of an intricate thriller... a wry, complex, at times disturbing survey of middle-class life.” (Sydney Morning Herald)
“A strong and haunting work that is worthy of your time.” (BookReporter)
“Fear shifts our moral codes. It makes us accessories to murder. A great achievement.” (Stern)
“A subtle and engrossing psychological thriller that gives an intelligent, carefully considered response to the question of how much our liberal values are worth when we feel our lives are threatened.” (Brigitte)
From the Back Cover
YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY. BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?
I had always believed my father capable of a massacre. Whenever I heard on the news that there had been a killing spree, I would hold my breath, unable to relax until it was clear that it couldn’t have been him.
Randolph Tiefenthaler insists he had a normal childhood, though he grew up with a father who kept thirty loaded guns in the house. Now he has an attractive, intelligent wife and two children, enjoys modest success as an architect, and has just moved into a beautiful flat in a respectable part of Berlin. Life seems perfect—until his wife, Rebecca, meets the man living in the basement below.
Their downstairs neighbor is friendly at first, but soon he starts to frighten them—and when Randolph fails to act, the situation spins dangerously out of control.
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Randolph Tiefenthaler grew up with a father who had an extensive gun collection. Not only were the guns loaded but Randolph’s father had a bit of a temper. Randolph always had a fear that one night his father would come upstairs and kill him and/or his brother. Randolph is an adult now with a wife and children when his father is arrested for murder. It all started when Randolph moved his family to a new building where Dieter Tiberius is living in the basement apartment. Dieter is an odd character who turns into a menacing one when he starts to stalk Randolph and his family and accuses the parents of sexually abusing their children.
This is an excellent psychological thriller with deep insight into family bonds and the fears implanted in us as children that we continue to live with throughout our adult life. I’ve seen other reviews saying the author lectures about issues but I thought the whole book was fascinating. I hung on every word and loved the buildup of suspense. No one seemed to be able to help this family – not their lawyer, not the police and not children’s services. At times I thought, just move away, but they hadn’t done anything wrong to lose their home, but since it involved children, I would have been out of there. Regardless, I was quite impressed by this author. Apparently, the book is loosely based on the author’s own experience with a stalker so he had firsthand knowledge of what this type of situation can do to a person.
The author is from Germany and he has written 8 novels, many of which, including this book, have been adapted for film, television and radio in Germany. “Fear” is the first to be translated into English. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any others that will be translated in the future for sure.
I don’t usually give thrillers 5 star reviews as I reserve 5 stars for books that really have a profound impact on me. But in a way I think the book did have a profound impact on me as I’m still thinking about it though I’m writing this review weeks after reading the book. This story showing how quickly our immediate world can become one that’s horribly distressful fills my thoughts throughout the days. If you’re looking for a thriller with psychological insight, I highly recommend this one.
This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
“We grew up untouched by weapons as everyone else – but for the fact that the guns were there, which changed everything. It meant there were different possibilities – possible threats, in particular. It changed the way we thought and, looking back, sometimes inclined us towards hysteria. For me, home was a place where you could get shot”
Fear is the sixth full-length novel by German journalist and author, Dirk Kurbjuweit, and the first to be translated into English. It opens with a man visiting his elderly father in prison. Hermann Tiefenthaler is serving eight years for shooting dead Dieter Tiberius, his son Randolph’s downstairs neighbour, with one of his collection of thirty weapons.
Randolph Tiefenthaler is a successful architect who is married to Rebecca, a beautiful, intelligent woman. They have two young children. When they move into their newly-purchased ground-floor apartment in Berlin, they are unaware of the basement tenant, having met only the owner of that apartment. But Rebecca says there’s something strange about him…
Randolph’s narrative (the account he is writing for his wife, of what led up to the shooting) relates the events with the benefit of hindsight. It’s a riveting tale that is easily believable, but with a twist or two at the end that certainly turns some ideas on their heads.
Kurbjuweit touches on several topical issues: gun ownership, child abuse, the power of spurious accusations to ruin a reputation, genetics vs upbringing and social inequality. His story demonstrates the effects, on thoughts, feelings and behaviour, of unremitting psychological terror, especially when the legal system seems impotent to protect law-abiding citizens.
Randolph explains: “The courtroom was almost full; the press had reported the case in detail, and largely with understanding. The greatest goodwill, I am afraid to say was expressed by the papers I didn’t normally read, but which now became my allies. A family under threat taking the law into their own hands fitted their world view, and I began to read the tabloids with new sympathy. Today I would cite this as an additional sign – along with my arrogant language and altered mindset – of the barbarism into which Dieter Tiberuis had plunged us. The crime itself, of course, was also barbaric”
This novel is flawlessly translated from German by Imogen Taylor, and it is no surprise that is has been adapted for film, television and radio in Germany. This is a gripping and thought-provoking read.