July 21, 2012

The Fear Index

by Robert Harris

Harris writes superb, understated thrillers – often with an intriguing technological bent as in his remarkable Pompeii. In this diverting beach book, we are on more familiar ground: the wealthy genius behind a Swiss hedge fund finds that someone has broken into his house, hacked his email, and is generally driving him up the wall. Has he gone ’round the bend? We have terrorists, plunging markets, stolidly obstructive middle-level managers, software that we don’t entirely understand, and an imperturbable Swiss inspector who now lives in France because the wealthy hedge fund managers have made it impossible for real people to live in Geneva. It’s not hard to solve the crime, but the journey has its rewards. The escalating violence of the final scenes is artificial: it’s simply not essential for every white collar crime-solver to wind up in physical peril in the last chapter of every book.