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Coincidence Engine Hardcover – February 7, 2012


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$23.99 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307716422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716422
  • ASIN: 0307716422
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,204,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A comic caper. . . . Pitched somewhere between the heartbreaking pitfalls of Jonathan Coe and the paranoid zaniness of Thomas Pynchon, this is a clever debut, well worth checking out.” — Sunday Times

“Witty and inventive, like something 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.” —The Mail on Sunday

 “Blending elements of a road novel, a spy thriller and a philosophical inquiry into the nature of chance, it is gripping, funny and unsettling.” —Financial Times

“The silliness multiplies across Sam Leith’s pages like fractal rainbows. . . . Anarchic, psychedelic, with a serious delight in paradox. . . . For [Leith], silliness is not camouflage but its opposite: a tantalizing surface that attracts attention and draws it very much deeper.” —The Guardian

“A novel of ideas. . . . Sam Leith [writes] with admirable imaginative stamina, helped along by sharply observed and entertaining writing.” —Independent

“A comic thriller that, in its deliberate daftness, shows how disturbing daftness can be when taken to extremes.” —Times Literary Supplement

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 lives near North London's picturesque Suicide Bridge with his fiancée Alice, daughter Marlene and son Max. His cat is called Henry.

Customer Reviews

Instead, it becomes disjointed and leaves way too much undeveloped.
Dick Johnson
There are a bunch of little side stories all wrapped up into this one story, and sometimes it's hard to keep track of who knows who and who's doing what.
Melissa's Midnight Musings
It is the reason it is getting two stars rather than the one-star rating it would otherwise deserve, with special mention for a particularly weak ending.
reader 451

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Product Description (above) grabbed me enough for me to buy the British edition. The first part of the book was convoluted enough to convince me to "buy in" to the premise. Then, the engine started sputtering.

I really enjoy books that take something improbable and take me through some fictional universe with some new rules. I love books that can mix humor in with that. I'm attracted to intelligent characters placed into new surroundings. And, I will have fun flipping the pages of a book that shows the writer stayed awake in English class.

This book has all of those. But, it doesn't have enough of them to hold everything together for its nearly three hundred pages. Instead, it becomes disjointed and leaves way too much undeveloped. The addition of another hundred pages (or more) would have helped. As it is, the ending is not justified by the meandering of the rest.

The three stars are not because Leith can't write. He can, though this book definitely comes across as a debut novel. The three stars are not because the book was terrible. It wasn't. Overall, it was enjoyable. It just fell short of what was promised. And, that's a shame. There was potential for so much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By anne on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Great writing, and if you are into math/physics, 'PhD comics' or xkcd, you will enjoy the references. The characters are quirky and loveable. and there is this sentence that goes, 'Dogs dogs..' which was a hoot. I cannot wait to read more fiction by this author. If you like Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, A. Lee Martinez, you will dig this new book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sonya Carpenter on August 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Coincidence Engine is basically a road trip story as the character Alex drives from Atlanta to Las Vegas unaware that he is being pursued by corporate thugs and a secret government agency called the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable. Alex is also oblivious to the extremely improbable events that follow his every move, starting with the self assembly of a 737 in an Atlanta hurricane. His pursuers think he is in possession of a coincidence engine and wish to relieve him of it, with the government agents trying to protect him and the arms company thugs prepared to kill him for the object (which their employers plan to use as a weapon).

The book has several protagonists, and each chapter shifts the point of view from one character to another. Slowly, we learn the back story of each character through flashbacks and conversations. I had trouble with this format, as it was difficult to really like or sympathise with anyone until about 2/3 of the way through the book, as we learn about their flaws and weaknesses long before we understand why they act the way they so. So, unlike a previous reviewer, I found the first 2/3 of the book a bit of a slog, and it picked up for me at the end. I felt the hanging ending was totally in tune with the general quirkiness of the story.

Sam Leith writes well, with imagination and dark humour. The book is peppered with satire and clever cultural gags. He handles the different plot strands well and connects them all by the final chapter. I just found the first part of the book took effort and commitment, but it was worth it in the end.
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Format: Hardcover
To be completely honest, I'm not sure if I even fully understood the Coincidence Engine. I understood it in terms of the story itself, but I'm not sure what the author was trying to accomplish here.

It starts off interestingly enough, a hurricane comes across the Gulf of Mexico, and strange things start to happen in it's wake. A plane appears out of nowhere, seemingly assembled by the hurricane itself. A woman is burgled as she comes home one night and as she goes to her neighbors house to use the phone she sees a man simply vanish into thin air.

If that's not enough, we learn of these events through the eyes of a character called Red Queen (remember Alice in Wonderland?) who works for a government agency called the DEI, or the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable.

Seems interesting, right?

No doubt it is, but it's all very confusing as well. There are a bunch of little side stories all wrapped up into this one story, and sometimes it's hard to keep track of who knows who and who's doing what.

The story that I probably felt the most comfortable with was Alex's. Alex is on his way to America from the UK to surpise his girlfriend Carey and ask her to marry him. Alex is the major player in this tangled web of stories. Red Queen thinks that he is the one in possession of the Coincidence Engine. The Coincidence Engine is construed by both the DEI and the British equivalent the MIC as a possible weapon. Alex has no clue what's going on and at the same time is questioning his life and his future all while being pursued by 3 different groups of people.

It's all too complicated to really go much further. You'd have to read it for yourself and see what I mean.
Read more ›
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