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The Coincidence Engine [Paperback]

Sam Leith
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

29 Mar 2012
A hurricane sweeps off the Gulf of Mexico and in the back-country of Alabama, assembles a passenger jet out of old bean-cans and junkyard waste. An eccentric mathematician - last heard of investigating the physics of free will and ranting about the devil - vanishes in the French Pyrenees. And the thuggish operatives of a multinational arms conglomerate are closing in on Alex Smart - a harmless Cambridge postgraduate who has set off with hope in his heart and a ring in his pocket to ask his American girlfriend to marry him.

At the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable - an organisation so secret that many of its operatives aren't 100 per cent sure it exists -- Red Queen takes an interest. What ensues is a chaotic chase across an imaginary America, haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity, and a very large number of unhealthy but delicious snacks. The Coincidence Engine exists. And it has started to work.

The Coincidence Engine is consistently engaging - one of the most enjoyable, entertaining debut novels you'll come across for ages.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (29 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408821729
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408821725
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,024,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sam Leith is a freelance writer and critic. A former Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, he now writes regularly for the Evening Standard, Guardian, Spectator, Wall Street Journal Europe and Prospect. He's 37 and lives near North London's picturesque Suicide Bridge with his fiancee Alice, daughter Marlene and son Max. His cat is called Henry.

Product Description


'A tremendous novel - droll, savvy, original. An invigorating blast of fiction' (William Boyd)

'A superbly entertaining brain-twister' (The Times)

'This is a novel of ideas [...] Sam Leith pulls it off with admirable imaginative stamina, helped along by sharply observed and entertaining writing' (Independent)

'Witty and inventive, like southing out of Hitchcock by way of Carl Hiassen, this tale of mayhem, murder and mistaken identity is a hugely entertaining, freewheeling riff on the paranoid, conspiracy driven American psyche' (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

A wonderfully clever and unique debut

Shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ok, but not exceptional 13 Oct 2013
This is a moderately fast paced urban SF thriller. Around the world a series of strange events has been happening, all driven by a device call the Coincidence Engine.

These events come to the attention of the Directorate of the Extremely Improbably, headed by a strange figure called the Red Queen. They, and other organisations are trying to track a guy called Alex who is thought to be carrying the device. As the net closes in on Alex the people tracking him start to bump into each other; and bump each other off. Meanwhile Alex is unaware that he is being tracked, as having delivered his package, he is trying to meet up with his girlfriend to propose to her. As the story reaches its conclusion, more coincidences happen, before the deflated ending drops into place.

Mostly I enjoyed this, it didn't understand the sub plot with the creator of the Coincidence Engine, didn't really fit with anything else going on with the story. Whilst the book was well written, it didn't seem to add up, for example why Alex drove across the states, to meet up with this American girl. I felt that it could have had more complexity and more coincidences to fit with the title. I like the spy / agency part, but Charles Stross has done this better in the Laundry Files series.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unknown unknowns should remain unknown 5 Feb 2013
By SteveL
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a waste of time ... i bought this book because of some good reviews, but this story of 'unknown unknowns'and (un)connected events lacked any sense of coherence and was really just a tale of meaningless rubbish, lacking in character, logic and ... well, pretty much anything that makes a good entertaining read. Sorry :-(
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