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The Fear Index

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


At the nexus of high finance and sophisticated computer programming, a terrifying future may be unfolding even now.
Dr. Alex Hoffmann’s name is carefully guarded from the general public, but within the secretive inner circles of the ultrarich he is a legend. He has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But one morning before dawn, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside mansion, and so begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him.
Fiendishly smart and suspenseful, The Fear Index gives us a searing glimpse into an all-too-recognizable world of greed and panic. It is a novel that forces us to confront the question of what it means to be human—and it is Robert Harris’s most spellbinding and audacious novel to date.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 12, 2011 – In this smart but uneven thriller on technology run amok from bestseller Harris (The Ghost Writer), Dr. Alex Hoffmann, an American scientific refugee from the abandoned Texas supercollider who lands on his feet at CERN in Geneva, eventually goes on to found one of the world s most successful hedge funds. Hoffmann s secret VIXAL-4, an artificial intelligence project that forecasts financial market movements, appears to have a mind of its own, which is more than can be said for its creator. Unbeknownst even to his English avant-garde artist wife, Hoffmann has shown signs of serious mental problems in the past. Could a series of strange occurrences in the present be random, the work of a mole in Hoffman s company, or part of his unconscious pattern of self-destruction? Pure science enjoys an uneasy existence with large profit making at the expense of downward-market spirals. Despite some less than engaging characters and a story that sags a bit, this novel s philosophical underpinnings will keep most readers engrossed. 200,000 first printing; 5-city author tour.

Customer Reviews


A simple comment on this book: it is a cross between the non-fiction book The Big Short, and the novel Robopocalypse (soon to be a movie).

This is a book that can't be put down. Thank god it was short enough that i did not have to stay awake for a week to read.

If you have money in the stock market and know a lot or a little you will truly appreciate this "novel". At times I thought it was one of those historical novels where you know the exact historical events, but a novelist adds what might agave actually been they say in the market, this is a Buy.

Beautifully crafted but lacking

Harris's writing is luxurious, so clear, so precise and so alive --- you taste his tastes, see his colours, acutely feel the pain of his characters. The premise of the story is good, and the storytelling captivating --- it really is hard to put down. But for all that I was left disappointed. In my opinion Harris lost his way during the last quarter of the book, as the characters became less believable and the plot a little strained. In the end there was no closure, and in particular the rationale for the events designed to destroy Hoffmann were never revealed (we learn the what but not the why).

The Fear Index

Intriguing and disturbing ideas about evolution, computers, artificial intelligence, and mankind, but the writing is hackneyed.

The Fear Index
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  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Jan 31, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings