Review of “The Fear Index”

Robert Harris in Cologne on November 19th 2009
Image via Wikipedia

I am not going to pretend The Fear Index is high literature, or anything like it.

It’s trashy thriller that I bought because I was going on a long journey, wanted something to read and generally thought Robert Harris‘s books fitted the bill of entertainment.

It is also a book about computing, or at least one that uses computing as an important part of the plot in a story about how things go disastrously wrong for a Geneva hedge fund.

So, what did I think? Well, it was enjoyable enough and an easy read – disposed of in little more than 24 hours. At times it even shows promise as a moral fable about the financial services industry and the culture of the City of London and the morality of moving to Geneva in search of lower taxes while complaining about public services.

It is also quite good, in part, in describing poorly socialised male scientists and mathematicians, though spoils that by actually having the main character, a thoroughly unlovable physicist/mathematician/computer scientist get the girl.

In the end the book is failure – not just because the characters are paper thin, I had no right to expect anything else from the genre – because the final twist is not really any sort of twist at all, but a below par re-run of a very familiar story. I won’t spoil it by giving it away, but will say that once, in the final 50 pages or so, it became clear just what the terrible secret of the plot is I lost a lot of interest.