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.