Friday, 16 February 2018

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

By Dirk Kurbjuweit
Published by Orion (25 January 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Publisher's description
You'd die for your family. But would you kill for them?
Family is everything. So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour - a man who doesn't listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help - the police, your lawyer - can't help you.
You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there's nothing more you can do to protect them.
Is there?

My verdict
Fear isn't what I expected and I admit that I wasn't sure about it at first. Yet the more I read, the more intrigued I became. What turns a mild-mannered non-confrontational man to take action to protect his family? This is definitely a book to make you think and read between the lines. A book that's designed to provoke a reaction and stimulate plenty of discussion.

This isn't a fast-paced all-action thriller or even an emotional psychological thriller. Instead, it's a discussion about the psychology of fear, violence and stalking. It covers other themes too, such as how childhood trauma can impact on adult behaviour, and also focuses on the class divide - the narrator's contempt for his poor neighbour and the neighbour's contempt for the wealthy family above him.

The narration reveals the inner turmoil of a family in crisis, unsure what to do and not wanting to make a fuss. Believing their lives are in danger, the family doesn't know who to turn to when the police and law won't - or can't - help.

The book is fiction but is based on real life, which is maybe why it did seem so real. But while I was right inside the narrator's head, I found him very matter of fact about the events that affected his family. The author reveals in an introduction to the book that he didn't want to write about his own family's experiences (which were, in some ways, similar to those of his narrator). He had deliberately waited a while before writing the novel, so perhaps he didn't invest emotionally in his story so that he didn't dredge up the past. The book is translated from German, so I also wondered whether some of the sensitivity and emotion was lost during the translation process.

I think that Fear is going to be a book that people will either love or hate. It's uncomfortable and disturbing reading at times, leaving me wondering 'what would I do' in those circumstances. So rather than expecting a high-octane action-packed rollercoaster read, be prepared for a book that will challenge your moral compass.

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