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Is there a genre of fiction that Robert Harris has not mastered? His first novel, Fatherland, set in a triumphant Germany’s post-World War II Berlin (yes, triumphant!) ranks as one of the finest “what if?” stories ever written. Pompeii sends us farther back in time, to the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius only days before the volcano was set to erupt. Ancient Rome at its pulpiest. Who knew aqueducts could be so sexy? The Ghost Writer (winner of the 2008 International Thriller Writers award for Best Novel) claims the shadowy world of contemporary North Atlantic politics as its subject. Classy Brit espionage best enjoyed with a gin and tonic in hand. All were international bestsellers. All were page-turners non-pareil. But best, all were frighteningly intelligent. Thrillers that made you think as you maddeningly bit your nails.
With The Fear Index, Mr. Harris has turned his gimlet eye on the secret world of billion dollar hedge funds, namely those that seek to earn profits by computer driven program trading. The result is a wholly unique entertainment: a strange, compelling, and utterly propulsive novel. I’m not sure who would enjoy it more: George Soros, Arthur C. Clarke or Edgar Allen Poe.
The story takes place over a tumultuous twenty-four hour period in the life of Dr. Alexander Hoffmann, computer scientist, mathematical genius, and, of late, hedge fund billionaire. It begins (as a fine thriller should) on a dark and stormy night when Hoffmann is awoken by an intruder inside his sixty million dollar villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. A confrontation occurs, Hoffmann is injured, and in his attempt to solve just how someone was able to gain entry into his well-guarded palace, Hoffmann comes face to face with the greatest danger he can imagine: himself. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say: his intellect. To reveal more would ruin the adventure...and adventure it is.
There is, however, a backstory. Hoffmann was not always a stock trader. He began his career as a computer scientist at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) where his work in artificial intelligence involved modeling sophisticated algorithms that programmed computers to teach themselves. It is this mastery of algorithms, and how they train computers to mimic human behavior, that he has turned to such profitable use at Hoffmann Investment Technologies. And it is this mastery that will come to haunt him.
What Harris does so admirably--in my mind, better than any other writing today--is intertwine nifty, page turning plots with important historical, political, or in this case, sociological questions. The late Michael Crichton did this kind of story well. In The Fear Index, Robert Harris does it fantastically.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I bought this book as a birthday gift for my son- he loved it! Had it devoured in two days! Thank goodness they delivered it promptly!Published 14 days ago by Linda K. Layne
This book will be liked by readers who are interested in artificial intelligence technology. It is interesting that something like this actually happened to the stock exchanges. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maurice Grossman
An interesting preview of how identity theft can destroy lives. Harris' writing is up to par and the insidious nature of computer algorithms gone wild is fascinating. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. B. Hopkins
A real adventure story that keeps you on the edge of your chair.Published 2 months ago by Constance A. Tway
Unfortunately this book took a really interesting premis and did nothing with it. There was plenty to work with: artificial intelligence, financial trading algorithms (such as... Read morePublished 3 months ago by eva a
I hugely admire Robert Harris; he can write as well as any craftsman alive (well, Hilary Mantel and Ian McEwan etc. excepted). Read morePublished 3 months ago by pingufreddy
Robert Harris' Fear Index a financial, psychological thriller. A former mathematical physicist has ventured into the world of high stakes hedge funds with the development of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael G. Kurilla
a compelling thriller and page turner, and a profound insight into the digitalization of our lives. as with all of Harris work, superb research and real thought about the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tony Levelle
I came upon this book in a dollar store. That suggested it was either a terrible book or a not so terrible book that had been printed in excessive quantity. Read morePublished 3 months ago by David Emanuel