First of all Happy New Year to you all. I hope Christmas was good to you and that the new year ahead brings much happiness into all your lives.
I have been very much absent on the blogging front due to other personal commitments but I do intend to remedy that in 2023. I will return to reviewing upcoming publications from next week but in the meantime I want to share a few short reviews of the books I have been reading over the last few weeks.
As Christmas was approaching I read two books by Antti Tuomainen, The Rabbit Factor (2021) and The Moose Paradox (2022), both published by Orenda Books. There is an upcoming film in the pipeline starring Steve Carell and, as I always rather read a book first before seeing it on screen, I felt the time was right . Also there is one more book in this series so at least now I have finally caught up!
The Rabbit Factor
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.
The Moose Paradox
Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen has finally restored order both to his life and to YouMeFun, the adventure park he now owns, when a man from the past appears – and turns everything upside down again. More problems arise when the park’s equipment supplier is taken over by a shady trio, with confusing demands. Why won’t Toy of Finland Ltd sell the new Moose Chute to Henri when he needs it as the park’s main attraction?
Meanwhile, Henri’s relationship with artist Laura has reached breaking point, and, in order to survive this new chaotic world, he must push every calculation to its limits, before it’s too late…
Absurdly funny, heart-stoppingly poignant and full of nail-biting suspense, The Moose Paradox is the second instalment in the critically acclaimed, pitch-perfect Rabbit Factor Trilogy and things are messier than ever…
‘A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen‘ is how Orenda Books describes The Rabbit Factor and it really is the most apt description for these highly entertaining reads. The main character, Henri Koskinen, is a pedantic actuary who loses his job and coincidentally inherits an adventure park after he receives news of the death of his only brother. When Henri arrives at the park, he makes a few discoveries and is soon under pressure from less savoury elements to keep the park afloat and to keep himself from an untimely end. With his precise approach to life Henri establishes some rules but there are just some rules that Henri is unable to follow and it is those relating to love.
Laura works at the park but has her own mysterious story to tell. Henri is unprepared for his feelings around Laura. She is unlike anyone he has ever met and, for reasons he can’t quite fathom, she seems to like him too. As Henri negotiates with criminals and takes control of the parks unorthodox staff, he discovers that his brother was involved in some very shady dealings and that it is now up to him to rescue everyone and everything.
In The Moose Paradox, Henri’s abilities are put further to the test when an unlikely individual arrives at the park one day. Henri thought he had resolved many of the outstanding issues left behind by his brother but what happens next is far beyond his experience and expectations. Added to that his relationship with Laura has hit a few speed bumps leaving Henri with unexpected emotions and in a bit of a quandary.
Henri has an idiosyncratic personality. His mannerisms and speech immediately put me in mind of the wonderful novel, Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession. A lovable individual who very much paddles his own canoe, Henri is very set in his ways, which, as it turns out, are ofttimes to his benefit.
Antti Tuomainen writes offbeat stories with wacky plots that just quite simply work. There is dark humour but there is also a warmth emanating off the pages that is hard to describe. As a reader you are immediately rooting for Henri, hoping that the world will right itself and that the good guy will win out. With seamless translation by David Hackston, this is a series that will appeal to all looking for a slightly alternative reading experience. Original, fresh, funny and extremely enjoyable, there is everything to love about this series. I’m thrilled to have taken a punt with these books and so will you.
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.
Twitter ~ @antti_tuomainen