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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)
“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Hugh
  • Perth
  • 10-25-11

Topical tale, well told.

The overall theme of a financial crisis and hedge funds doing whatever they can to make a dollar is very appropriate in todays markets.
The story is both a mystery/thriller and slightly sci-fi, however I found the mystery part fairly predictable.
The writing, characters and narration were very good, which makes this one well worth the credit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Truly disturbing story

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Most certainly, because one had to know if he was going mad or was correct about what was going on. Would he succeed?

What does Christian Rodska bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Pace, consistency, colour to the characters

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but impossible to do.

Any additional comments?

highly recommended.

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  • Overall
  • Nils
  • 10-08-11

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.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nicholas
  • 12-23-11

Very Disappointing

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kirstine
  • 10-28-11

Engaging story: could do without the Darwin

I've enjoyed a number of Robert Harris' books and in the Fear Index he hasn't lost his touch in creating an engaging thriller that keeps you listening. Hedge funds being no more than betting on the stock market is certainly a topical backdrop to an inventive, if at times implausible, story. Sci-fi meets crime fiction.

I could have done without the grafting on of supposed parallels with Darwin's evolutionary principles that often seemed forced.

Christian Rodska is an admirable narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Roderic
  • 11-10-13

Pretty good read, though not Harris's best

Any additional comments?

I found some aspects of the plot clumsy, but overall it was very entertaining. A strong idea, developed quite well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Penny
  • 10-20-11

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!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 09-10-17

Intelligent Thriller

A clever cyber thriller - basically, what happens when artificial intelligence runs amuck with a hedge fund, and the subsequent implications for global markets and events. A superb story from the thriller maestro. Scared me off stocks & shares for life. Very well narrated by Christian Rodska.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-14-17

not his best

I'm a great robert harris fan with an interest in finance but was slightly disappointed in this book. good premise for a book but never quite hit the highs I was expecting

  • Overall
  • M. Oakley
  • 02-10-17

the fear index

To appreciate this book and its plot the reader would have to have an intimate knowledge of money markets to appreciate the nuances as the plot unfolds. To such a person it would be excellent and exciting read

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  • Miya Yu
  • 07-22-16

Interesting

A bit difficult to follow with all those scientific terminology sometimes. Overall, good book to learn.

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  • sue c
  • 02-20-16

Thought provoking

Gripped us to the end. Fast paced and so believable. Interesting to learn about the financial world which seems to be just an elaborate form of gambling.
This takes place over 24 hours and everything happens so fast, giving the adrenalin rush that must be felt by dealers buying and selling in the markets.