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on 20 November 2016
I didn't expect to enjoy this book at all, if I'm honest, but it was set for book group so I had to try it. I've never really read thrillers before, and they just haven't appealed. However, this was gripping, I enjoyed Robert Harris' pacy writing style, and the gritty story was very compelling. I have to confess that I didn't understand (and still don't) just about anything to do with hedge funds, but it didn't really matter in the end!
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on 5 June 2016
Certainly not one of the best from this fine writer. A lot of padding "..as the doctor took his blood pressure, the stethoscope felt cold against his wrist ..." really? And some dire chase scenes where I pictured Harris at his desk floundering with the boring characters, and asking a secretary: Help can you liven this up for me.." The plot has been aired in earlier reviews - a well trodden path involving a sceario where computers get the upper hand oer humans, but the denouement was contrived and untidy, making the closing pages of this third rater very hard going. Hard to believe it comes from the pen of the author of Fatherland, Archangel et al. Almost - but not quite - bad enough to put me off looking out for his next novel!
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on 25 October 2017
My husband brought this home as a paperback gift form a friend and I bought it and down loaded as it is easier to read on my kindle. The concept of robots controlling the lives of ordinary people and taking control way beyond their intended use is not new, but coupled with the world of high finance this added an extra and interesting dimension. The only reason I’ve not given it 5 stars was the end was rather predictable.
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on 14 October 2012
I enjoy Robert Harris novels. He always manages to combine an intelligent plot with a gripping narrative. It is a well-written book and very easy to read; I read it in about two days.

Harris writes about the principles of finance and hedge funds quite well; technical explanations seem integrated into the plot rather than being like a lecture. I think I understood the financial side of things; it is complicated but you don't need to follow every word to keep up with the plot. And the plot is where I'm less satisfied.

I just couldn't believe in the outcome at the end of the book. It's something more like science-fiction and I'm not used to this from Harris. The reader seems left with many questions that cannot be logically answered and I actually misunderstood the ending of the book until I read some spoiler reviews. This wasn't due to me not following the book but it was the case that I couldn't believe that what was happening was what Harris was intending us to understand.

Aside from the plot flaws, if you're willing to suspend disbelief, this is a well-written and gripping read. I just didn't believe in the whole story revealed towards the end. I would give the book four stars for style and readability but mark it down to three stars because it didn't satisfy me as a plot.
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2012
I haven't read all of Harris' books, but thought this sounded good from the blurb on the back. Alex Hoffman is a hedge fund manager, making loads of money and living in Geneva, where he helps incredibly rich people become even more incredibly rich. He does this through a computer system that is trading stocks and shares all over the world.
One night someone breaks into his new home and attacks him. Hoffman starts to see mysterious things happening, all apparently organised by him, and realises someone is out to get him.

It is an undemanding read - it moves quite slowly in places, particularly when someone is explaining how a hedge fund works (to be fair to Harris, for the first time in my life I understand what a hedge fund now is). It goes along in a routinely thrillerish way, until the end where it all gets suddenly and deeply silly. Any grounding in reality or basic believeability goes out the window and it's just stupid. As is the ending.

But it's fine until that point - it will occupy you for a day or so on the beach
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on 23 November 2015
Alex Hoffman, scientist/mathematician, brilliant, but unbalanced builds a computer based on AI ......Artificial Intelligence.....A computer that will eventually think for itself and learn from it's mistakes, but ultimately will develop the human instinct of self preservation......One day in the life of Alex Hoffman, when his life will unravel to the nth degree.....is it all his own fault or has his creation taken on it's own life.......Read and decide what you think.......you won't regret it, then again.......
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on 7 November 2015
I have read most of Robert HARRIS'S BOOKS. Fatherland got me hooked, Enigma was a work of genius and the books set in ancient Rome were thrilling. I would have given them all 5 stars. However, although the writing was as always excellent, the science fiction aspects of this book left me cold, however, even though the content was not always to my taste, I was hooked on the story line all the way to the end so I will give it 4 stars. I would have given it four and a half if half stars could be given!
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on 10 January 2018
As is usual with Robert Harris, this story is well researched, which brings a measure of reality to it. If I had any criticism it would be that slightly more explanation of the terms used. Most of the time I do not want to put it down!
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on 9 May 2012
A really interesting central concept. I'm a big Robert Harris fan however this seems to have been knocked up pretty casually. The two-dimensional characterisation doesn't do justice to the storyline, and the action spirals out of control becoming ever more ludicrous in the last few chapters. Instead of a really engaging psychological thriller (which it could have been and promises at the outset) it ends up as a pretty transparent and flimsy blood, guts and explosions Hollywood blockbuster script treatment. A shame. A missed opportunity.
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on 1 January 2014
I read this just after An Officer and a Spy, Harris's novelisation of the Dreyfus affair. If that had too many characters one can't really blame Harris, who was after all constrained by real events. The Fear Index, on the other hand, has a more manageable number, and is a lot shorter.

I think the problem is really the plot - imagine one of the many dystopian stories of computers deciding they can do a better job than fallible humans (such as 2001 or the Terminator films) combined with the Michael Douglas film Falling down. Set in the course of one day, albeit a very eventful one, it doesn't leave a lot of scope for character development, and in any case seems to be more about the algorithm than the people, who are really just a plot device to help tell the story. It's also far too obviously written with a film in mind.

Still, Robert Harris on an off-day is better than a lot of people at their best, and I'm certainly looking forward to the 3rd Cicero novel.
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