Dr Alex Hoffman is a legend. An American physicist once employed on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, he now uses a revolutionary and highly secret system of computer algorithms to trade on the world’s financial markets. None of his rivals is sure how he does it, but somehow Hoffman’s hedge fund – built around the standard measure of market volatility: the VIX or 'Fear Index' – generates astonishing returns for his investors.
Then, late one night, in his house beside Lake Geneva, an intruder disturbs Hoffman and his wife while they are asleep. This terrifying moment is the start of Robert Harris’s new novel – a story just as compelling and timely as his most recent contemporary thriller, The Ghost .
Set entirely over the course of a single day, The Fear Index follows Hoffman’s quest to find out who is trying to destroy him, even as the world’s financial markets head for collapse.
"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)
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I am not sure what to make of this one. A strange and unsettling story and at the end you are not sure exactly what the meaning of it all was. You can interpret it so many different ways. I did not read the print version.
I would not have so many long passages about stocks and shares and trading. Unless you know a lot about it - rather long winded.
The first scene.