Title: The Rabbit Factor
Author: Antti Tuomainen
Translator: David Hackston
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Nordic Noir
First published: August 19th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 15th 2022
(Originally written in Finnish: ‘Jäniskerroin’)
“As a rule, I don’t run adventure parks, and I certainly don’t batter people to death with giant, plastic rabbit ears. But as I said, my life hasn’t been following the probability calculus for some time now.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Orenda Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I’ve highly enjoyed Antti Tuomainen’s mix of black humor and Nordic noir in the past, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read his newest story The Rabbit Factor sooner than later. Especially when I heard the news that there was an adaptation in the making… I fully expected to have a brilliant time with this story, and I’m still not sure what exactly went wrong, but the fact is that somehow the Nordic black humor magic failed to hit the right spot for me. I ended up having mixed thoughts instead, and I’ll try to explain what did and didn’t work for me below.
First of all, I can still truly appreciate this quirky mix of genres and combination of dark comedy and Nordic noir crime. It is not a combination you come across every day, and black humor is tricky to get right, but Antti Tuomainen sure knows how to mix that particularly literary cocktail. And as someone who has a particular taste for sarcastic and darker humor, his writing is usually right up my alley. This is why I’m so surprised that The Rabbit Factor wasn’t as big as a success as I thought it would be…
Things started out promising enough and the contrast of the serious and kind of clueless Henri, the dangerous situation and the ridiculous events had me hoping this would be a new favorite. Somehow though, the pace seemed to slow down considerably and combined with something I can’t exactly put my finger on, I started to struggle to keep focused on the story. I wasn’t sure what to make of the main character Henri either… I liked him initially, but he became a tad annoying and repetitive as the plot evolved. The ‘bad guys’ were a bit too cliche for me, and some of the side characters were quite frustrating. I do still like the contrast of Henri being an actuary and him suddenly inheriting an adventure park with all the side issues. The way he gets himself out of tricky situations is without doubt the perfect example of dark comedy, and those moments stood out for me. There were sadly also parts that almost dragged for me, and I think that I could have done without the romance element altogether.
Before I go, I have to say that I can truly appreciate translators like David Hackson for making it possible for us to enjoy our dose of Nordic noir to the fullest… I would have never been able to discover this Finnish author otherwise. And while The Rabbit Factor wasn’t my favorite story written by him, that doesn’t mean that it was a bad read. If you like your humor pitch black and enjoy quirky characters as well as crime fiction, you should definitely try this author!