The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen tr. David Hackston #bookreview #TheRabbitFactor #TuomainenTuesday #Orentober

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.

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Hi and welcome to #TuomainenTuesday! It’s been a while since our last one and I’m thrilled to finally have another Tuomainen review for you!

Full disclosure: I love Antti’s books. He has this unique combination of suspense and humour, laced with quirkiness and sprinkled with absurdity that always works like a charm on me, and as such The Rabbit Factor delivered exactly what I expected from it, and even a little more: a new favourite protagonist. I think it’s safe to say that after Palm Beach, Finland, I’ve found myself a new favourite Tuomainen novel as well.

The Rabbit Factor is all about Henri, who works as an actuarial mathematician for an insurance company, basically calculating insurance premiums. Or rather that’s what he used to do, because Henri has just been forced to quit his job and now he has inherited an amusement adventure park after the sudden death of his brother. What happens when you pull a logical-thinking creature of habit out of his comfort zone and drop him in an adventure park? Well… Strange but funny things, from the looks of it! And that’s not even taking into account the criminals who come knocking because apparently, the park is not all Henri has inherited.

I know lots of you love The House in the Cerulean Sea and I’ll wager that there are fans of The Big Bang Theory here too and why am I saying this? Well I couldn’t shake the feeling that Henri is the perfect crossover between Linus and Sheldon, two characters I adore.

Henri is a man of numbers, logic and predictability. He doesn’t like the new open plan office, he doesn’t care what his colleagues got up to over the weekend, he doesn’t ask how they are because frankly, he doesn’t really care so why ask, he just wants to get on with crunching the numbers and assessing the risks. Fun to Henri is things being like they always are, even if they are quite ordinary and rather bland. And then everything goes topsy-turvey for Henri, in a bad way but also in the very best way. I just love it when characters make this huge arc (like Linus, like Sheldon), evolving from being all “sciency” and analytical and rather uptight to realising that not everything is logic and reason, and finding they don’t actually mind it one bit.

I breezed through this book, it was such a joy to read from start to finish. I simultaneously wanted to race to the finale to find out if and how Henri had got himself out of his predicament, and slow down to be able to stay in this book for a while longer. The good news is this is the start of a trilogy. The bad news is I’ll have to wait for the second one. Looks like beside Icelandic (for Eva Björg Ægisdóttir) and Swedish (for the Blix & Ramm series by Enger and Horst), I’ll have to learn Finnish as well. Oh Orenda Books, the things you do to me!

If you like scenarios in which an ordinary guy ends up in impossible and at times comical situations with a bunch of criminals breathing down his neck, The Rabbit Factor is one you won’t want to miss. It is funny, it is bittersweet, it is suspenseful and Henri absolutely stole my heart. Highly recommended.

Note that The Rabbit Factor is being adapted for the screen by Amazon Studios, starring Steve Carell, with Antti and his agent acting as executive producers (and Antti also has a cameo!). Now we all know the book is always better than the TV show, so hurry up and read the book so you can watch the show later and point out all the differences to your partner / friends / roommate, you know they’ll love you for it 😉

The Rabbit Factor is out now in digital formats and will be out in hardback on 28 October with the paperback to follow in April 2022. (Pre)order directly from Orenda Books here.

Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the fantastic proof! All opinions are still my own.

Want to know more about Antti and his literary journey? Then do check out this video on the WCCS!

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