Robert Harris’s THE FEAR INDEX

I’m a big fan of Robert Harris’s books. From the ‘what if Hitler won WW2’ thriller FATHERLAND through to his Ancient Rome legal thrillers, IMPERIUM and LUSTRUM. They are all very well researched and are great page turners which always make you think.

His new book is set in 2011, right in the thick of the financial world and is a techno thriller that reminds me of Michael Crichton at his best. Harris tackles not only the financial turmoil the world is in at the moment but also looks at our reliance on digital over physical and the consequences of that and how fear permeates everything and can be easily manipulated.

The main character is Dr  Alex Hoffman. A brilliant scientist who has developed a computer system that can run the ultimate hedge fund. It has already made Hoffman and his associates hundreds of millions of dollars in only a few short years. The key to the software is that it has been developed with a kind of artificial intelligence that is constantly evolving. The system can not only compute massive amount of figures from stock markets around the world but also monitor news feeds and interpret what affect the news will have on stock prices. The more information the system takes in the better and more intelligent it becomes. But in a world where we rely more and more on digital information who and what can you really trust?

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