The Beaver Theory

Written by Antti Tuomainen

Review written by P. D. Viner

P.D. Viner is a crime writer and film maker. Baker and coffee fiend. Course director of the Goldsboro Writing Academy.

The Beaver Theory
Orenda Books
RRP: £16.99
Released: October 12, 2023

I was excited to be sent a proof of The Beaver Theory by Antii Tuomainen, especially as the front cover tells me that he’s the funniest writer in Europe (according to The Times). In the 90’s and early thousands I read a lot of crime comedy – Colin Bateman, Carl Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich in particular. As a younger man I had been a terrible stand-up and sketch writer for a short time, and I was keen to go back to comedy/crime after all these years.

I have not read Tuomainen before, though I did almost buy The Rabbit Factor when it came out in 2021. I wish I had now. I say that not because I’ve fallen in love with the comic stylings of Antti Tuomainen, but because that is the first in a trilogy of books that continues with The Moose Paradox and ends with this, The Beaver Theory. I wish I’d started at the beginning because there is so much recapping and filling in of the backstory in this, that it’s hard to get involved with The Beaver Theory.

The hero of all three books is Henri Koskinen, he is an actuary (a professional who uses maths to understand risk) and he sees the world in terms of a series of mathematical probabilities. He is odd… but in a good way. I think he’s somewhere on the neuro-divergent spectrum (which made him an interesting narrator). He’s learning to become a part of a family, or even a series of families (this is a book as much about acceptance and community, as it is about crime and punishment). Though even that is a spoiler of sorts, as his character develops over the course of the three books and coming to him two thirds of the way into his story felt like I was missing out on a lot. Generally, crime series do not do character development very well – because they want a reader to be able to pick up the books in any order and read them. Consequently, protagonists don’t learn much about their lives, they just catch the bad guys, but that is not what Tuomainen does with this trilogy. Henri is on a journey of emotional growth that covers all three books, and it was hard to drop into this one without the previous adventures. 

So, at the start of The Beaver Theory, Henri has become the owner of an adventure park and has fallen in love with an artist and single mother Laura Helanto. That should have been happy ever after for Henri, but another adventure park is trying to destroy his business, as well as frame him for murder. And not only is there that chaos, but he has to become a boyfriend and dad, and help plan a bake sale, as he’s joined a group of campaigning dads who want to take their kids to Paris by selling sourdough bread and jam. 

I can’t say that I was thrilled by the crime story in this. I also can’t agree with The Times about Tuomainen wearing the funniest writer crown. But I was absolutely charmed by Henri. I found him a real breath of fresh air as a crime protagonist, and I smiled a lot as I read. I would seek out more of Antti Tuomainen, but I would say to start this trilogy at the beginning. Rabbit, Moose and then Beaver. That sounds like the weirdest Sunday roast.


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