His name is carefully guarded from the general public but within the secretive inner circles of the ultra-rich Dr Alex Hoffmann is a legend - a visionary scientist whose computer software turns everything it touches into gold. Together with his partner, an investment banker, Hoffmann has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that tracks human emotions, enabling it to predict movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions.
But then in the early hours of the morning, while he lies asleep with his wife, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of their lakeside house. So begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him. His quest forces him to confront the deepest questions of what it is to be human. By the time night falls over Geneva, the financial markets will be in turmoil and Hoffmann's world - and ours - transformed forever.
©2011 Robert Harris (P)2011 Random House Audiobooks
"Robert Harris's superb The Fear Index guaranteed to appeal to anyone who shudders when their laptop unaccountably fails to switch off." (Phillip Hensher Spectator)
"On the crime front, Robert Harris's thriller The Fear Index combined a gripping narrative with intelligence and wild imagination." (Allan Massie Spectator)
"More modern thrills were provided by Robert Harris's The Fear Index, a financial what-if melding artificial intelligence with hedge funds." (Justine Jordan Review, Saturday Guardian)
"The Fear Index sees Robert Harris step away from the traditional political environment of The Ghost and focus on where the real power lies: investment banking... the idea of sentient computers is always intoxicating and Harris undeniably uses it well." (Alexandra Heminsley Independent on Sunday)
"I loved Robert Harris's thriller The Fear Index with its gripping and timely setting of collapsing financial markets and super intelligent computers." (Mariella Frostrup, Mail on Sunday)
"Taking an up-to-the-minute scenario, The Fear Index gives it the scary features of Mary Shelley's 1818 shocker Frankenstein. Like Frankenstein, the novel is a tale of the catastrophic consequences of galvanising inanimate matter into uncontrollable life... Depicting all this with sardonic relish, Harris switches the high-tension techniques that give his thrillers their heart-pounding suspense into black comic mode. His tongue-in-cheek flesh-creeper is a virtuoso specimen." (The Sunday Times)
"Mock-gothic variant on Frankenstein relates what happens when a computer programme goes rogue and ravages the money market. Suspense and satire combine in a book that is as up to the minute as a news flash." (The Sunday Times)
"Harris's latest bestseller is a gripping, funny and timely tale of money - losing it or, more terrifyingly here, making too much of it... A high-speed plot, deft characterisation... and Harris even manages to explain what a hedge fund is." ( The Lady)
"The Fear Index by Robert Harris is a great story set in the world of finance about markets being manipulated, how technology has changed financial markets and greed." (Ed Milliband, New Statesman Books of the Year)
"[Robert Harris] keeps you gripped with the perfect mix of character, tension, information and background" (Simon Reeve, S Magazine, Sunday Express)
"Harris is the master of the intelligent thriller...a gripping human drama steeped in paranoia and violence" (Paul Pender, The Week, Scotland on Sunday)
"Unpleasantly close to the present"
As always, Robert Harris is a masterly writer. The language never gets in the way of the reader - or listener - but creates and maintains the atmosphere of authenticity so characteristic of his other titles.
In this book the threat of imminent financial collapse is the backdrop - a bit too close for comfort. He uses Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species to kick off the suspence. Quotes from the same work introduce each chapter. Not surprisingly the theme is fear but not the usual and superficial kind of horror stories.
Well-researched and convincing. Well-plotted.
Kudos to Christian Rodska as narrator. I especially enjoyed his perfect switch between the American main character and the accents of the other nationalities: Nigerian (just three words, but convincing!), Polish, French-Swiss, and Dutch.
An enjoyable experience.
"Superb, intelligent thriller"
The beginning is unsettling and gripping, the ending is disturbing. Harris has again written a thoroughly intelligent thriller, this time grounded in the world of finance, hedge funds and computers. He succeeds because the novel has a lot of truth in it from his thorough research (and the research never overshadows the plot), he has cleverly given it a tight time-frame, and he has layered it with philosphical and scientific ideas which bring a further richness to it. And the icing on the cake; it is read by the wonderful Christian Rodska.
"Another Great Book"
Robert Harris has never failed me yet. This book is an addition to the long list of his titles that I have enjoyed. I was initially worried that it might be a bit 'dark' but it was just a thoroughly enjoyable read - and right up-to-date!
It's a good idea for a book for sure and in a way there aren't enough books like this - clever novels written by someone who knows how to write and who understands the world of hedge funds and what people get up to at the exotic murky end of the finance sector. lots of well observed and clever things. I can't put my finger on it but in the end something was missing so it falls short of great. Either it's in the way it's read out or more fundamentally in the depth of the characters.
Despite working out "whodunnit" very quickly, the plot raced along nicely and I was sufficiently gripped to want to hear the book all the way through.
The characterisation was good and though I failed to warm to any of the people in the book, they were sufficiently sympathetic to make me want to know what became of them.
The book taps into a couple of current areas of paranoia and as such should strike a note with many listeners.
It was well narrated, and fast moving to a point but fell away at the finish.
Worth a listen though
"massively enjoyable and nicely read"
This is the first if Harris' books I've listened to, and wow I'm really impressed. Fast paced, gripping story. Interesting and believable characters with just the right level of background info delivered when needed.
The reader has a pleasant voice that is nice to listen to and does a very good job of helping the listener differentiate between characters.
Definitely recommend this audiobook
I'm a big fan of Robert Harris and I think he's a masterful writer. So it's mystifying how he could write this drivel that reads like a poor imitation of a Michael Crichton novel. There are definitely hints of his usual descriptive panache (the only reason I didn't give it only a single star) but it's not enough to sustain a very weak storyline full of plot-holes and characters that never fully develop. In the end, it's a waste of time and potential readers should focus on Harris' other works.
The plot builds-up the tension very nicely. I couldn't stop listening towards the end as I needed to know how the story was going to pan-out. Excellent narrator. I definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a thriller.
"Way to go, making the hedge fund world thrilling."
I learn't a few things along the way about the world of finance. I thought the plot line was good, and the story line kept me thinking in different directions. As a geek I really enjoyed this and maybe a sequel would be possible.
Just hope HAL and vxl4 don't merge.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.