The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen (tr. by David Hackston) #BookReview #BlogTour

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Steve Carell for Amazon Studios

Just one spreadsheet away from chaos…

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'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for The Rabbit Factor today. Huge thanks to Antti Tuomainen, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Rabbit Factor is Antti Tuomainen's fourth darkly humorous thriller and is the first book in his first-ever series, introducing one of the most memorable, loveable characters I've ever had the pleasure to read; Henri Koskinen.
What Antti Tuomainen does so beautifully is to place at centre stage the sort of character who would more usually be a secondary figure, somebody socially awkward and often included to be the light relief in a novel. Henri is an actuary and it's more than a job for him, it's who he is; the structure and rules of calculations offer him stability and even comfort in a world he likes to be methodical and predictable. However, his world has changed - his workplace has moved to become open-plan, he now has a workstation rather than a desk in his own office and worse, it's full of people. He doesn't want conversations and banter and hates the new, meaningless management speak about shared decisions and opening up on an emotional level.
Henri is out of his comfort zone but as the wonderful opening to The Rabbit Factor has already revealed, being a fish out of water in his office is merely a precursor to the mayhem that follows. He inherits an adventure park (Henri wouldn't want me to refer to it as an amusement park!) from his brother and the magnificent chase scene through the park at the start of the book is one of the best openings I've ever read. Why it occurs and what it leads to lies at the heart of The Rabbit Factor but while Henri could have discovered that his brother's legacy was a poisoned chalice, what he actually learns is more heartwarming, more surprising and much funnier than you'd ever expect following a demand from an impatient loan shark.
Antti Tuomainen has been described as the 'King of Helsinki Noir' and many of the themes explored in Nordic Noir books feature in The Rabbit Factor, albeit in his own unique way. So there is darkness here too; there is a real sense of danger and violent deaths as Henri finds himself caught up in the underbelly of Finnish society, making deals with criminals and plotting to avoid the attentions of the inquisitive policeman, Osmala whose repeated visits to the park further complicate matters.
However, what really makes this multi-layered, beautifully structured novel such a joy to read is the evolution of Henri's character as he attempts to deal with the various unexpected challenges that confront him - including how to manage the various quirks and demands of the disparate bunch of park employees. From security guard, Esa who treats his role as seriously as a military engagement, to the determinedly ambitious Kristian whose refusal to back down on a promise from his brother leads to a hilariously accurate corporate-speak conversation. It's Laura, though, who makes the biggest impression on our unlikely hero and whose art confuses and delights him in a way he doesn't understand and yet learns to embrace.
Despite the brash, technicolour theme park setting and the extraordinary situations that Henri finds himself in, The Rabbit Factor remains a believable read throughout because it's written with such observant wit and affection for the idiosyncrasies of human nature and absurdities of life. David Hackston's translation deserves a mention here too, he ensures the narrative flows seamlessly throughout.
Henri discovers that while his calculations help him to negotiate the dangerous chaos, his personal life requires him to do something an actuary usually tries to avoid and to take a risk where the outcome is far from certain. What is certain, however, is that The Rabbit Factor is another exceptional novel from one of my favourite authors. The sense of place is superlative, the characterisation exemplary, the perceptive humour outstanding and it is all written with such enormous heart. It might feel strange to describe a thriller this way but I finished The Rabbit Factor feeling as if I'd been wrapped in a comforting blanket of love and hope. Thank goodness there's more to come, we all need more Henri Koskinen and more Antti Tuomainen in our lives!

The Rabbit Factor is published by Orenda Book, it will be published in ebook and hardback on 28th October 2021 with the paperback to follow on 14th April 2022. Pre-order directly from the publisher's website or from, Hive, Waterstones, Kobo, Amazon or from your favourite independent bookshop.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Finnish Antti Tuomainen 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 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 (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and Little Siberia (2019) was shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Readers Awards, the Last Laugh Award and the CWA International Dagger, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel. The Rabbit Factor is the first book in Antti’s first-ever series. 

About the Translator
David Hackston is a British translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo’s eco-thriller Birdbrain, two crime novels by Matti Joensuu and Kati Hiekkapelto’s Anna Fekete series (which currently includes The Hummingbird, The Defenceless and The Exiled, all published by Orenda Books). He also translates Antti Tuomainen’s stories. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki.


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