Blog tour: The Beaver Theory by Antti Tuomainen, translated by David Hackston

The Beaver Theory

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘Henri Koskinen, intrepid insurance mathematician and adventure-park entrepreneur, firmly believes in the power of common sense and order. That is, until he moves in with painter Laura Helanto and her daughter…

‘As Henri realises he has inadvertently become part of a group of local dads, a competing adventure park is seeking to expand their operations, not always sticking to the law in the process…

‘Is it possible to combine the increasingly dangerous world of the adventure-park business with the unpredictability of life in a blended family? At first glance, the two appear to have only one thing in common: neither deals particularly well with a mounting body count.

‘In order to solve this seemingly impossible conundrum, Henri is forced to step far beyond the mathematical precision of his comfort zone… and the stakes have never been higher…’

The Beaver Theory

The Beaver Theory, by Antti Tuomainen, picks up not long after the events of The Moose Paradox and, before that, The Rabbit Factor.

Having seen off dangerous foes and financial woes in the previous instalments, actuary turned adventure park owner Henri Koskinen faces a new challenge: a rival adventure park, Somersault City, has enticed away YouMeFun’s customers with unsustainable prices and attractions, and its owners aren’t exactly easy to negotiate with.

At the same time, Henri has recently moved in with his artist girlfriend Laura Helanto, and her tween daughter Tuuli. Alongside the demands of family life he’s unaccustomed to, Henri finds himself out of his comfort zone when he’s drawn into social activities with other school dads.

The Beaver Theory is a fun end to an enjoyable series. As ever, I was entertained by Henri’s deadpan, does-he-even-know-he’s-being-funny narrative voice, and his unconventional, autistic-coded view of the world.

Henri’s new living arrangements reveal a whole extra side to his character. While he struggles with the notion that there’s now someone to notice if he’s out at odd hours, and doesn’t really want to join the dads’ group, his organisational skills and strong sense of responsibility mean he never misses a school pick-up or parents’ evening.

What’s more, Henri comes across as a natural parent to Tuuli in that he is interested in what she says and does, appreciates her youthful exuberance (even if it is exhausting), and instinctively knows when to let her take the lead (how much milk someone wants on their cereal is highly individual and important). His reactions to Laura’s art are as well-expressed as ever.

While all this is heartwarming, The Beaver Theory continues its predecessors’ tradition of dispatching the baddies violently and unusually!

As is customary, in the opening scene, a villain has been taken out by a piece of adventure park equipment, and Henri is there to describe it. The thrillingly unpleasant events and people just keep coming from there.

The new characters – not just the out-and-out bad guys, but a couple of dodgy young police officers, and Henri’s fellow dads – are typically sharply-observed and comically-drawn, while Henri’s employees continue to be their eccentric, but very funny and loyal, selves.

For much of the book, Henri shows no sign of having learned that sharing his problems with the team generates ingenious, if outlandish and risky, solutions. Then again, it wouldn’t be much of a story if the staff of YouMeFun put their heads together and saw off Somersault City straight away!

Despite The Beaver Theory being a quick read, it did feel like there was excess padding at times. For example, while the “Accidental Andy” story Henri reads to Tuuli is delightful, it’s never mentioned again, so its message gets a bit lost. I think further scenes at the park with Henri’s distinctive, ragtag employees might have added more value.

The Beaver Theory is an entertaining and heart-warming conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK