Today I am thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review, although I had already purchased a physical copy. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.
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…
Sometimes you come across a book and everything about it makes your heart sing. I know my fellow bookworms recognise that feeling, know that it is rare but, when it does occur, it’s joyous. My friends, The Rabbit Factor is one of those books.
This is the story of Henri, a very uptight man who likes everything in his life to be ordered and logical. He is an actuary, and he makes all of his life decisions (and I do mean ALL of them) based on logic and probability and he doesn’t like anything which disrupts this system or seems to him not to make sense when viewed from this perspective. This is itself makes reading about his life a ludicrous business, and I’d give you some examples from the book which made me laugh out loud but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I’ll just say that this is one of those books that makes people look at you oddly on a train if you decide to read it in public.
So, the premise of this book is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story. What happens when this man is accosted by a set of circumstances that don’t make any sense, can’t be dealt with on a purely logical basis, involve people who made illogical decisions or don’t behave in a predictable way and force him to think things and feel things that he has never had to think or feel before. This is what confronts Henri when his wild, reckless and unpredictable brother dies and leaves Henri his adventure park, responsibility for its employees and all the difficulties that go with it.
Seeing uptight Henri the loner actuary in charge of a children’s adventure park would in itself be hilarious enough for a story. However, this is also a crime caper, because the adventure park is in financial difficulty and his brother seems to have been caught up in some dodgy dealings which Henri has also inherited. How do you logically calculate your way out of criminal enterprise involving people who use violence instead of reason? Read this book to find out. However, this implausible story is not the biggest delight at the heart of this novel, it is merely the ingenious skeleton on which the flesh of this fantastic novel hangs.
There are two things which makes this book a standout for me. The first is the writing. Antti Tuomainen has the most delicious way with language, a gift for finding the hilarious in the mundane and a wicked turn of phrase that is music to the visual ear (if that is even a thing… you know what I mean anyway!) As I said before, this book is funny, laugh out loud so in parts, but it is also clever. Beyond this, he also knows how to write tenderly when tenderness is required, with tension when that is appropriate and with insight and consideration when this is needed to bring the plot to life. This book, as well as making me laugh, also really touched me in places, with a beautiful exploration of human nature, what speaks to our hearts, how relationships can change us, and how even the most cut-off and stringent of souls can be reached and touched by the right people. This book contains so many facets that there is something here for everyone – comedy, crime, love – the layers open up throughout like an unfurling flower to reveal its full beauty by the end.
The second, and most important aspect that brings this book alive are the characters. Everyone is individual, well-developed and integral to the plot. Even the one that doesn’t appear until right at the end, because there is a reason for this that adds to it. You can tell that no one is there for any reason other than they are essential, and every one has been given the same care and consideration in their development. Henri, of course, is the star and I could read a book featuring him every day of the week. For someone so alien to most of us, he is relatable and completely lovable and I am so glad to hear that this is the start of a series in which he will feature. Henri aside, I love everyone else. Laura, Kristian, Johanna, the security guard – the way they all interact and play their part. Even Henri’s old boss who he has written off proves to have a use in Henri’s life after all, they are all brilliantly interconnected in his awakening to a future he never knew existed, or that he had craved. It’s beautifully done, heart-warming and uplifting. The reason this book made me so happy.
I have always been a fan of Antti’s books but this may have just overtaken Palm Beach Finland as my favourite. I’ll have to go back and read the latter for comparison, which won’t be a hardship. While I’m here, just a word on the translation. If the name of the translator were not on the cover, you would never know this was a translated text, it is that seamless. This is no mean achievement and deserves recognition.
If you want a real treat, treat yourself to this, I promise you will close the back cover with a smile on your face and a warm, Ready Brek glow around your heart.
The Rabbit Factor is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Please check out the rest of the fantastic blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews:
About the Author
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.
Connect with Antti:
Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official