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The Fear Index Paperback – 24 May 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099553260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099553267
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Harris is the author Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium and The Ghost - all of which were worldwide bestsellers. His work has been translated into thirty-three languages. He was born in Nottingham in 1957 and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He worked as a reporter on the BBC's Newsnight and Panorama programmes, before becoming Political Editor of the Observer in 1987, and then a columnist on the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. In 2003 he was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He lives near Hungerford in Berkshire with his wife and their four children.

Product Description


"The Fear Index could scarcely be more of the moment" (The Times)

"Harris is a master of pace and entertainment, and The Fear Index is a thoroughly enjoyable book . . . Read the book." (Observer)

"The Fear Index is an escapist thriller to rank with the best of them, and as a guide to what hedge funds actually do, it is surprisingly clear and instructive." (Economist)

"There are moments when this book feels so up to date it could have been written next week... spookily exciting." (Express)

"I would recommend The Fear Index, the new novel by Robert Harris that delves into the world of modern finance. The writing is as elegant as ever" (Lionel Barber Financial Times)

Book Description

The gripping new race-against-time financial thriller, from the award-winning master of the literary thriller genre: Robert Harris. Shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller of the year at the 2012 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 5 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Having read all but one of Robert Harris' novels over the years, by now I know what to expect. He has a very enjoyable writing style (intelligent yet accessible) which should in no way - as others have done - be compared with Dan Brown's. It is demonstrably superior!

As ever, the pace, setting and characterisation are superb. In The Fear Index, the story centres on a brilliant yet socially inept CERN mathematician who, after some kind of nervous breakdown, is befriended by a charming and very persuasive English banker. Between them they are able to set up a hedge fund which trades through a computer algorithm called VIXAL-4 - basically a search engine which feeds on real time and historical information and learns to spot patterns of fear in trading (surely somebody from Google would already have done this if it were currently possible?). Particularly scary and amusing are the cast of investors invited to the lakeside HQ of the hedge fund in Geneva on the single day that the action takes place. The grim depiction of the city is also quite brilliant - it certainly chimed with a feeling that I took away with me when I visited a few years ago

But the problem is, as always, quite simply the plot resolution. I have a theory that the beginning point of every Robert Harris novel is the author's fascination with a particular subject - be it Bletchley Park, post-Communist Russia, the Roman Empire, imagining what would have happened if the Nazis had triumphed in the Second World War or the seemingly amoral world of hedge fund management. He will then meticulously research that subject from every possible angle, hence his incredible talent for setting the scene and putting you in the heart of the action.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER on 27 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Dr Alex Hoffman is an intensely private, brilliant physicist who has developed a series of algorithms capable of predicting, with uncanny accuracy, how stockmarkets will react to events. His investment company has made him - and others - a billionaire off the calculations of his artificially intelligent VIXAL-4 super-computer. He is happily (if somewhat improbably) married and has built his company with a partner who has the social skills that he lacks. One night Hoffman is awoken by the sound of an intruder in the house - the catalyst in a chain of events that over the next 24 hours will end some lives, cause those close to him to doubt his sanity and potentially may bring down the global economy.

It took a little while for this thriller to pull me in. The tension takes some time to build. I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, none of whom (with the possible exception of Hoffman) felt very believable. However it's deftly written and even as I started to work out parts of the plot and where the story might be going, other elements kept me guessing. It's a strange change of pace for Harris, reading more like a Michael Crichton novel than a Robert Harris one. It has the scientific edge that I associate with Crichton's books, it's highly topical and grounded in recent events. It's also very readable - I tore through it in a day. So where's the problem? It's more shallow than I expect Harris's writing to be. The plot doesn't have a massive twist, some some small kinks. I simply didn't care about any of the characters. I read it happily enough, but I don't think it will stay with me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Welsh TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading previous reviews - and aren't there a lot of them! - is instructive. Some readers are disappointed because "The Fear Index" isn't the Robert Harris they know and love. Maybe they feel it's a case of what the marketing people call "improper line extension" - a product that appeals because of its brand, but turns out not to be what that brand usually delivers. That reaction is quite understandable, but surely we ought to judge a book on its objective merits? Seen as a glossy techno-thriller with science fiction overtones, "The Fear Index" is really excellent. And from an author whose many and varied previous books have not had very much deep technical content, it's a real tour de force. While regular Robert Harris readers may feel somewhat cheated, Michael Crichton fans should be overjoyed that someone has finally picked up his mantle and is wearing it with a good deal of panache. Habitual SF readers, too, will find a lot to get their teeth into; they are used to an almost complete absence of character development and personal relationships, but love a good complex plot with plenty of ideas (and preferably lots of bleeding edge hardware). I thoroughly enjoyed it on that basis, and I admire Harris for adventurously moving into fresh territory rather than staying in his (and many of his readers') comfort zone.

Unlike some other reviewers, I thought there were plenty of surprises. Harris disguises what is really going on with a masterly hand. Aficionados will probably have two or three shrewd guesses before the first pulse-racing scene is over, but I would bet they are all wrong. There is plenty of action, some of it very violent and rather gruesome, but everything that happens in the foreground (to use chess terminology) is pure tactics.
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