Plimmer, Martin

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Freelance journalist; broadcaster and writer for Radio 4, British Broadcasting Corp.


King of the Castle (fictionalized memoir), Ebury (London, England), 2002.

(With Brian King) Beyond Coincidence: Amazing Stories of Coincidence and the Mystery and Mathematics behind Them, Icon (Cambridge, England), 2004, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Freelance journalist Martin Plimmer is also a broadcaster for the British Broadcasting Corp. One series of programs that he worked on for Radio 4 concerned the unusual coincidences in life that one often hears and wonders about. He later adapted this concept into a book with fellow journalist Brian King. Beyond Coincidence: Amazing Stories of Coincidence and the Mystery and Mathematics behind Them is filled with numerous anecdotes about amazing incidents that seem to defy logic, such as the time a woman locked herself out of her house only to have a postal worker deliver an envelope with a key from her brother in it. Other examples include the similarities between the Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy assassinations and a man who was struck seven times by lightning. The authors offer some background on statistics that show how many of these so-called coincidences are not really as remarkable as one might believe, as well as how human psychology seeks to turn coincidence into fantastical mystery. In other words, people tend to read more into coincidences than what is really there. Critics reviewing Beyond Coincidence were not overly impressed with the results, however. For example, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the anecdotes collected by Plimmer and King can be amusing at times but that "there's remarkably little holding [the book] … together." William Grimes, assessing the work for the New York Times, called it "a superior example of the genre known as a toilet read, with a few halfhearted excursions into the psychology and mathematics behind the uncanny coincidences." However, Booklist critic Gilbert Taylor concluded that the authors are "fun, verbally agile guides who can entertain the credulous and skeptical alike."



Booklist, December 15, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Beyond Coincidence: Amazing Stories ofCoincidence and the Mystery and Mathematics behind Them, p. 10.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Beyond Coincidence, p. 1268.

New Scientist, March 20, 2004, Wendy Grossman, "Now There's a Thing," review of Beyond Coincidence, p. 54.

New York Times, January 20, 2006, William Grimes, "The Quirky Moments When Lightning Does Strike Twice," review of Beyond Coincidence.

Observer (London, England), April 4, 2004, Robin McKie, "You Believe in Coincidence? Amazing. So Do I," review of Beyond Coincidence.

Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2005, review of Beyond Coincidence, p. 40.*