The Fear Index

By Robert Harris

The Short Take:

This taut psychological thriller centers on hedge fund algorithms of all things. When I first heard about this book, I thought that sounded boring. It was anything but.

Why?

The world of high finance baffles me. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of betting a stock will go down instead of up as an investment. Harris actually made this clearer, yet didn’t let math or explanations of investment strategies bog down his plot in the least.

While the story mostly stays focused on Alex Hoffman, a brilliant and eccentric physicist, other characters bring welcome depth and add interesting nuances. The artist-wife and aging detective are particularly interesting. With all the action taking place in a single day, there are no slow spots as Hoffman’s world spirals out of control.

But know this: While this book is in no way a science fiction book, sci-fi fans will probably guess what’s up early on. I did. But that did not diminish my enjoyment of this book one iota. Writing with a secure basis in the real world, Harris has created a real page turner that will also have you thinking about the repercussions of today’s interconnectivity, information flow, privacy, and quite a bit more.

A Little Plot:

Hoffman receives a rare Darwin first edition book anonymously. Next an intruder some how completely bypasses his extensive home security systems and attempts to kill him, knocking Hoffman unconscious. Dazed by his brain injury and confused by these strange events, Hoffman seeks answers on his own, while Detective LeClerc pursues another line of investigation, suspecting the problems might have their source in Hoffman’s mind.

The fear index continues to grow — not just for Hoffman himself, but also for his highly successful hedge fund, where the algorithm he created is taking ever riskier stock positions. By the time he realizes what is going on, others have drawn their own — quite different — conclusions.

While I didn’t readily find a web sit for Harris, you can find out more about him and his books by clicking here.

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