Today I am delighted to finally be sharing my thoughts on The Rabbit Factor, the first book in a brand new series by Antti Tuomainen. He ‘says’ it’s a trilogy, but I’m sure he wants to write more really … My thanks to publisher Orenda for furnishing me with an early copy for review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the fun. Read on to find out more about the book.
About the Book
An insurance mathematician’s carefully ordered life is turned on its head when he unexpectedly loses his job and inherits an adventure park … with a whole host of problems. A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen.
What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.
And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.
But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…
Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.
I have been so excited to read this book. I make no bones about it – I love Antti Tuomainen’s writing style, especially his latest few books which have managed to blend his amazing way with words with his wonderful sense of humour. Kind of understated, but undeniably there and able to elicit more than the odd chuckle from me in probably all the wrong situations. And knowing that this is not only the first book in a series, but that the series is in development for TV just makes me even happier, because having read the book I can already see how bloody perfect this is for adaptation.
This is the story of Henri Koskinen, an actuary who unwittingly becomes the owner of a family adventure park (definitely not theme park) after the untimely death of his brother. Not only does he inherit the park, he inherits all of the unique challenges that come with it and a wonderfully eclectic group of staff to boot. Now that might seem like a bit of a hoot to some, but it is actually very far out of Henri’s comfort zone. This is a man who was born to be an actuary, whose permanent calculation of risk leads him to few few adventures of his own but also makes him uniquely qualified for this strangest of opportunities. You might not think it, but it really, really does.
The opening scenes of the book make clear the significance of the giant cartoon bunny which is festooned on the cover, and pulls readers into Henri’s world in the authors inimitable, almost slapstick and yet darkly humorous style. Boy did it have me chuckling and I know that many of my fellow readers will be joining me in that. From here we are taken through the week leading up to this most eventful after work encounter, and the events which bring us to Henri’s unenviable position. A mixture of organised crime, armed heavies, loan sharks and deep deception mean that whilst Henri may have gotten away from his former boss’s overuse of pretentious business jargon, his life is very far from simple or, for that matter, free of, or even limited in, risk.
I really fell in love with the character of Henri. He is quite literal in his language and everything is determined in terms of risk and mathematical calculations, but as a bit of data potato statistician myself, I can respect and in a small way, relate to him. I mean, I hope I’m far less restrained than Henri and I don’t live my life by the numbers, but I can empathise with his view that numbers are far more logical than people. They just are. But there is something strangely warm about him, and whilst he may not fully understand or be able to express his feelings, he is a good man. Character is always something Antti Tuomainen excels in creating, and whether friend or foe, Henri is surrounded by people who really make the story the success, and the sheer joy, that it is to read. Beyond his potential love interest and art loving Park Manager, Laura, we have handyman and wannabe General Manager, Kirstian whose determination to be in charge is not quite matched in terms of talent, the heavy drinking Marketing guru, Minttu K, and the bakery loving gangster who holds Henri’s future in his flour covered hands, and all of them add a mixture of humour, and sometimes emotion to the story.
There is a darker side to the story, and there are scenes which are very reminiscent of The Man Who Died and Palm Beach Finland in their madcap intensity and high stakes danger. The pacing ebbs and flows as the story dictates, the writing absolutely spot on and the tone of the story both hopeful and worrying in equal measure. Despite the fact this is set in a family fun park where the fastest paced ride is slower than a lame donkey, and the biggest risk to health is what the small children may, or may not, have left in the ball pit, there is a hell of a lot of jeopardy and threat threaded throughout the book. It certainly kept me completely on the hook, if only as I wanted to make sure Henri finds a solution to his overwhelming problems, and to see if he ever works out what happened to his missing employee …
This is a story of second chances and a man who lives his life in a completely risk averse way and yet takes perhaps the biggest gamble of them all. With brilliant characters, a crazy plotline and a setting which adds both danger (apparently) and great humour, the book made me laugh, it made me smile and it had the adrenalin pumping in all the right places. Above all, it made me very happy because I know there is still more to come. Only I have to wonder, after all of this, after the not that unusual (for a crime book) but definitely ‘not in line with Health and Safety or environmental code’ use of the freezers and all of the madness that ensued, what in God’s name does Antti Tuomainen have in store for poor Henri next time? Can’t wait to find out.
Anther classic for me and an easy award of the Red Hot Read badge. Or maybe is should be a red hot carrot 🥕🤔🐰 Poor bunny.
About the Author
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer, the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula. The Man Who Died brought him to his literary best.
Follow the tour:
Books by Antti Tuomainen: