Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

The Coincidence Makers, Yoav Blum; Ira Moskowitz, translator; Fred Berman, narrator (Macmillan Audio, $20.99, digital download, 8 hr., unabridged) March 2018.

Guy, Emily, and Eric are Coincidence Makers; they receive assignments in sealed envelopes to set up chains of seemingly accidental events with profound effects. A synching of traffic lights here, a spilled coffee there, can irrevocably lead to two people “unexpectedly” encountering each other, or a buttoned-up number cruncher deciding to become a poet.

While they spend their days creating turning points for humanity, their own existences are not without drama. Emily is in love with Guy, but Guy still carries a torch for the woman he loved in his prior career as an imaginary friend. This emotional standoff leads the two to some desperate acts that reveal some devastating truths about the inner workings of coincidence making, as well as the hidden agenda of Eric, who’s a bit more than Emily and Guy’s peer.

Berman’s slightly raspy, incredibly earnest narration lends the gravity of a parable to what could come across as a silly premise. He helps you buy into the underlying concept, at least up to a point. The story throws off shoots in various places, but what at first seems to be very complicated actually turns out to be quite simple: This is a romance. Ultimately, the entire elaborate machinery of the story is one giant meta-chain of coincidences and manipulations directed at making two people encounter each other at the right moment. This is genuinely sweet, but also leaves some plotlines dangling and many questions unanswered. In particular, quite a lot of time is spent on a hitman whose kills are all performed by coincidence makers, but his story sputters out once he’s played his role in bringing the fated couple together.

Charming, if slightly maddening at points.

This review and more like it in the July 2018 issue of Locus.

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