It has been 18 months since I wrote my review of 'The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder', JW Ironmonger's previous book. For anyone who has not read it, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. It was the most different, interesting, philosophical yet entertaining book I had read for some time. The good news is that The Coincidence Authority is also an interesting, enjoyable book but the sad news is that it is less so than its predecessor.
Similarly to Maximilian Ponder, this book focuses on two key characters. In this case, it is Azalea Yves/Folley/Lewis and Thomas Post. Other similarities include the strong philosophical theme running through the book's narrative, the use of Africa as a setting for portions of the story and the heavy use of real-life references (primarily to anecdotes and historical events).
Unfortunately, the differences include weaker characterisation, which I think is due to an indistinct narrator rather than the main character's best friend as in Maximilian Ponder, lesser drama, far too much descriptive prose (with lots of 'ands' and semi-colons) and weaker less frequent humour. The first half of the story could just as well be a philosophy theory paper.
Still, The Coincidence Authority picks up as the story progresses and the characters and drama begin to come to life. The themes on philosophy, religion, science and pre-determinism Vs free will, are accessibly explored and certainly make you think and wonder. I would definitely recommend it. One final gripe - I did not like the uncertainty of the ending - it is clever but cruel to the reader. I will use my free-will to pretend that the story had a happier, more definite, ending.