The Rabbit Factor

This dark comic thriller (300 pages) was published in June of 2022 by Orenda Books. The book takes you to an adventure park in Helsinki. Melissa read The Rabbit Factor and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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The Rabbit Factor

Antti Tuomainen, David Hackston (translator)

This comedy thriller set in modern Helsinki is the funniest book you’ll ever read about accidental murder committed by an insurance actuary at an adventure park.

Our hero Henri is an excellent actuary — so good with numbers, so terrible with people. When an acquaintance says to him, ‘You know how it is.’ He replies, ‘I’m not at all sure I do. In my experience, automatic assumptions regarding the proportionality of things often lead us astray.’

At the age of 42, Henri had only one deeply-held wish: He wanted everything to be sensible.

He had been content in his insurance company job, but a recent move to a new space has meant an open floor plan that invites too much contact with his coworkers (and their morning small talk). His new department manager — recipient of the promotion that Henri himself desired — has a decidedly touchy-feely approach to teamwork. He wants everyone to talk about their feelings and has instituted practices (yoga!) to make them emotionally available to each other.

When Henri is given the choice of a demotion or getting on board with the team, he creates his own third option: He quits. And then very quickly realizes, ‘I’d never imagined I could be in the situation of not knowing where to go first thing in the morning.’

And then things get worse.

His brother dies suddenly, and Henri inherits his brother’s adventure park. YouMeFun is filled with walls for scaling, ropes, slides, and labyrinths — everything an active person needs for climbing and jumping adventures.

On his first visit to inform the staff of the new status — your boss is dead, and I’m now in charge — he finds himself among a quirky crew of employees in a brightly-colored, noisy, utterly unmathematical environment. A quick look at the financial records tells Henri there’s something fishy — and probably criminal — going on at YouMeFun. And he’s got to get to the bottom of it.

So much for his wish that everything would be sensible.

This brisk, funny book combines elements of a coming-of-age-story, a crime caper, and a workplace comedy — think The Office or Parks and Rec with gangsters, a little bit of murder, and an enormous, hard-plastic rabbit mascot that plays a significant role in the plot.

There are car chases, foot chases, knife fights, bodily threats from extremely dangerous people, and a body in the freezer. And somehow, even though it’s violent, it’s also gleefully silly.

And there’s plenty of heart. Henri’s new role at the park forces him to interact with messy, complicated, unpredictable people. Along the way to solving YouMeFun’s financial woes, he learns to reconcile his own surprising emotions with his deep affection for order and logic.

YouMeFun sprawled through the autumnal landscape in technicolor, almost genetically modified splendor. A box of tin and steel, painted in garish red, orange, and yellow, and almost 200 meters across, it was an eyesore, no matter which color of tinted spectacles you used to look at it. Presumably, the point of the brash colors and enormous lettering was to spread the joyous gospel of sweaty fun and games for all the family to everyone who entered its gates. — Antti Tuomainen

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