“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We Have Nothing To Fear But The Fear Index Itself

I sometimes wish that I hated my job. That I’d come home in the evening fairly simmering with resentment, ready to pound all the anger and rage out of my system, taking it out on the keyboard first, and then the characters created. Rage, I think, makes for the most interesting stories.
  Unfortunately for my writing prospects, I like my job. Some days I love it. Last Friday being a case in point, during the course of which I legitimately spent two hours watching a good movie (‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’), an hour or so reading a good book (THE AFFAIR by Lee Child), and an hour or so chatting about books and writing with Robert Harris, whilst interviewing him to mark the publication of his latest offering, THE FEAR INDEX (which is very good indeed). He was a nice guy: urbane, modest, self-deprecating to a fault. I don’t know, if I ever became rich and famous through writing, I think I’d be an egomaniacal prick.
  Actually, as all Three Regular Readers already know, I am an egomaniacal prick. All I need now is the wealth and fame. Don’t hold your breath …
  Anyway, my short review of THE FEAR INDEX appeared on Saturday in the Irish Times, along with reviews of Sophie Hannah’s LASTING DAMAGE, Liza Marklund’s EXPOSED, and Jon Steele’s THE WATCHERS, along with a quick review of the Len Wanner-edited DEAD SHARP, which is a series of interviews conducted with Scottish crime writers including Ian Rankin, Allan Guthrie, Louise Welch, Paul Johnston and Karen Campbell. The review of THE FEAR INDEX runs thusly:
Robert Harris is renowned for his historical novels, although his eighth offering, THE FEAR INDEX (Hutchinson, £10.99), could hardly be more contemporary and relevant. Set in Geneva, in the world of high finance, it centres on Dr Alexander Hoffman, who was once a prodigy at Cern but who has since learned to adapt his scientific theories to profit from the world’s trading markets. The novel opens with a break-in at Hoffman’s mansion, with Harris establishing a tone of paranoia that quickly escalates, as Hoffman’s persecution by an anonymous enemy increases in tandem with the collapse of the global economy. It sounds perverse to describe THE FEAR INDEX as an old-fashioned techno-thriller, but while the computer-based, self-generating algorithms Harris describes are at the cutting edge of technology, the theme itself is old, dating back to when primitive man first picked up a stone and realised the double-edged potential of a weapon. Harris writes with a deceptively languid elegance, so that the novel straddles not only the crime and sci-fi genres but also that of literary fiction. A satisfying read on a number of levels, it is strongest as a character study of a man who discovers, pace Hemingway, the true meaning of the phrase “grace under pressure”.
For the rest, clickety-click here

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