Book Review – The Fear Index by Robert Harris

The story starts with a break in at hedge fund founder’s Dr Alex Hoffmann $60 million house. The intruder seems to have an intimate knowledge of the home’s elaborate security.  For the first half of the book the intrigue and tension are nicely ratcheted up as you want to know what is going on, why and what happens next. At the same time there is a readable description of the computer controlled hedge fund organisation.  Up to the half way mark I thought the book was excellent.

[Warning Spoiler:] At this point it emerges that Hoffmann himself could be the perpetrator, although there is still the possibility he is a victim of identity theft.  This really deflates the tension for the remainder of the plot.  There is a Frankenstein theme in the second half of the book; the computer cannot be manually overridden and in the end has to be destroyed by its creator. I felt this aspect lacked both originality and credibility. [End of Spoiler]

Overall this financial thriller is a great, fast read. 5 stars if the second half had been as good as the first, but as it stands, 4 stars.

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