Pages: 223 (Hardback 2011)
The Fear Index is the latest novel from the amazing thriller writer Robert Harris. The Fear Index follows a day in the life of Alexander Hoffmann, a rich, American, Physicist and owner of one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund companies. Hoffmann is a computer genius. The reason behind his company’s wealth and prestige is a financial algorithm which Hoffmann designs himself. The algorithm is known as VIXAL-4. It uses patterns and trends from previous years to guess which stock to buy and sell in the market, so far been correct giving its shareholders an 83% return on their investments.
Life seems to be going well for the American business man. Hoffmann believes himself to be worth around one billion dollars, has a $60 million dollar house in Geneva’s most wealthy area and a loving wife Gabrielle. However all of this changes after the suspicious delivery of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The emergence of this book sets of a domino effect of events that has Hoffmann doubting his sanity. Whilst also triggering the uncontrolled destruction of his creation VIXAL-4, as it appears to be gambling all of Hoffmann’s hedge fund money on one sale of shares, risking bankruptcy.
The Fear Index was a great book. From the very first chapter it had me gripped and I managed to read the whole book in 48 hours. The mystery behind all of the events has you believe that someone very close to Hoffmann is trying to sabotage him and his business. The story follows Hoffmann over 24 hours as he tries to find who is destroying him. However, these events are been triggered by e-mails coming from Hoffmann’s computer, which makes him start to doubt his sanity as he has had previous mental breakdowns.
This book is based around the financial market. I think Harris does a great job of explaining the basics of the stock market in this book. I know nothing about economics, but Harries explains it in a simple way which makes this book much better to read. This is because you have a small understanding of how the stock market works which helps you understand the events in the book even better.
This was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes any of Robert Harris’s other books, anyone who has an interest in economics or the Stock exchange, or anyone who enjoys modern thrillers.