Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston
Last year I was delighted to discover this new to me Finnish author, and his book The Rabbit Factor (reviewed here), the first in a planned trilogy, was a sheer delight, and I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for the middle volume.
I should say at this point, this is one case where you should read the first book before this one, you need to know the history of some of the characters. Tellingly, Orenda books has not included a synopsis of what happened before, to bring readers up to speed. This is a good thing really, because the first volume is so funny, you’d be missing a lot should you not read it.
The action in The Moose Paradox essentially carries on from The Rabbit Factor. Former actuary, Henri Koskainen, has largely turned around the adventure park, YouMeFun, he inherited from his brother along with all his brother’s many debts. In order to do this Henri had to strike some very dodgy deals with even dodgier criminals. Some of the criminals appreciated Henri’s inventive financial acumen, others didn’t understand it and there ended up being bodies… the canny police inspector Osmala never got close to uncovering the truth about it all.
Now, Henri’s attention is turning to his competition for it’s clear that YouMeFun is haemorrhaging visitors. What Henri needs is a new exclusive ride to bring them back and add new customers. He’s set his heart on the Moose Chute in the Toys of Finland Ltd catalogue. They only build one a year, and YouMeFun’s exclusive contract with the company should allow him to nab this year’s product, so he books an appointment with the firm.
The Moose Chute stood taller than any of our other pieces of equipment, and in every respect it was gigantic. This single device offered up to ten different activities. The most hair-raising of these was the possibility to leap from the tip of the moose’s antlers right into a forest of trampolines positioned at its front. […] But most magnificent of all was the fact that the entire moose could be turned into one enormous rollercoaster. The circuit running through the inside and along the back could support several carriages, and the moose itself moved them along with the help of a powerful and fully carbon-neutral electric motor.
However, Toys of Finland Ltd is under new management, and they have been looking at YouMeFun’s contract to try to get around the terms in it. They only offer him the Crocodile Canyon, a far inferior ride that has had poor reviews, in fact they try to force him to take it. There’s something fishy about the three new co-owners of ToFL…
Meanwhile, Henri has other problems. Someone from his past returns and immediately turns things upside down, affecting staff morale in a big way, and putting the financial thumbscrews on again. Although this happens early in the novel, I’m not saying who! More positive though, is Henri’s relationship with painter Laura which, step by step, is moving towards the pair making a commitment to each other. A nice contrast to his woes at the park.
As he did in The Rabbit Factor, Tuomainen begins the novel with Henri in peril, an episode in the book’s future which sets the scene for the antics to come.
The Moose Paradox does lack the immediate humour found in the first book by encountering Henri as such a fish out of water in the adventure park; now he is secure in his role running the park. However, having read the first book, we largely know what to expect, and Tuomaninen’s dark humour is still there, expertly handled by the translator David Hackston. There’s also a comfort in meeting all the park’s singular employees once again, and Tuomainen is able to develop some of them further. Esa, the park’s stinky Head of Security, is particularly fun in his desire to protect against every eventuality in only a way that a former special forces soldier could conceive of.
It was a joy to be in Henri and his team’s company once again. It was lovely to see the matter-of-fact mathematician’s romance with Laura develop too – although I would stake my money on it that there will be trials for Henri to overcome in that respect before a happy ever after in the final volume of the trilogy. See I’m looking forward to the third Henri instalment already!
Source: Review copy – thank you.
Orenda Books hardback, 300 pages. BUY at Blackwell’s via my affiliate link (free UK P&P)