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Coincidence    by David Ambrose order for
by David Ambrose
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

George Daley is an author, who writes non-fiction books about highly speculative subjects such as ESP, ley lines, pyramid power and the like, ranging from the pseudo-scientific to the frankly mystical. He enjoys researching and writing them, and they sell well enough to provide a reasonable income. He is happily married to Sara, a highly successful and wealthy art dealer, and his only problem is in finding a suitable subject for his next book. Sara is in Chicago on business and George is relaxing alone. He is thinking about visiting his father, in a retirement home in a small town in New England, when coincidentally the phone rings and he learns of his father's death.

Going through his father's effects, George comes across old photographs showing his mother and father with another, rather glamorous couple whom he cannot remember ever meeting, even though one of the photographs is of himself, about ten years old, with the couple. He also finds an old copy of the show-business magazine, Variety, with a photograph of the same couple, the English stage and film stars Jeffrey Hart and Lauren (Larry) Paige, on their marriage.

Back in New York, George is trying to find out more about the Harts, when, walking home he sees in the gutter a playing card, the Ace of Hearts, and struck by the coincidence, picks it up. Then, a few blocks later, displayed in a bakery window is a cake in the shape of a playing card; the Ace of Hearts. He has just found the subject of his next book, coincidence, and indeed George is about to be swept away by a deluge of coincidences.

Without giving away too much of a tortuous, twisted, tangled plot, George finds that he has an identical twin, Larry Hart, who is, unfortunately, as charming and unscrupulous as George is dull and honest. Larry is also in immediate danger of being caught and disposed of by certain unhappy business associates. When Larry finds out about his double, he realises what an opportunity has presented itself, and promptly takes advantage of it.

The presentation is intriguing. Each of the three protagonists, George, Sara and Larry, is allowed to tell part of the story from their own individual points of view, which I think helps hold the reader's attention. Also, I was fascinated by some of the examples of coincidence, or 'synchronicity' as Jung termed the phenomenon, which George found in his research on the subject. Although the uneasy blend of mystery and pseudo-science fiction does not quite come off, the twists and turns of the plot are riveting, and the unexpected developments flow from a highly inventive imagination.

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