Invisible’s got an excellent, tense plot, shifting between the two main characters, with a good number of surprises along the way. Poulson always has great, strong women characters, with real lives and feelings . . .  I liked the fact that the depictions of violence and injury were realistic without being over-detailed or gloating . . . It was a pleasure to find a book that did the excitement, the jeopardy and the thrills without putting off this reader . . .  a very good read for anyone.’


The Fear Index

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 in Robert Harris, The Fear Index | No Comments

My sadness at seeing that Blackwell’s in Broomhill was about to close didn’t stop me from going in and buying a few books at half price. One of them was The Fear Index by Robert Harris, and what a gripping read this turned out to be. Alex Hoffmann has become fabulously wealthy through his invention of an algorithm which plays the market by picking up on indications of fear and panic. The story begins when his apparently impregnable house is broken into in the middle of the night. He has a history of mental illness and as the sinister events pile up it is not clear whether he is in the throes of a breakdown or if someone – or something – is out to get him. It won’t be giving too much away to say that he has created a monster and it’s getting out of control. This is a modern Gothic novel and Harris admits as much by quoting from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the beginning of the first chapter. The narrative rips along and the description of the meltdown of the financial market is all too plausible. Harris has done his research and I did feel – at least for a while – that I understood something of how the market and hedge funds in particular work. It’s a story of hubris, of human beings overreaching themselves, and though it’s as old as Prometheus, Harris’s is a fresh and chilling take on it.

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