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New Book Review: TO KILL A UNICORN by DC Palter

Description:

At this Silicon Valley startup, murder is a feature, not a bug…


A mystery/thriller set in Silicon Valley’s Japantown, To Kill a Unicorn is a crazy ride through the world of high-tech startups.

SüprDüpr is the hottest startup in Silicon Valley since Theranos. But when the company’s chief scientist disappears, his friend, the hacker, Ted Hara, sets out to find him.

Led by a glamorous young scientist and funded by billionaire crypto investors, SüprDüpr promises to revolutionize transportation. But as Ted investigates the secretive company, nothing is what it seems.

Are the millions the company is spending on homeless shelters truly corporate philanthropy? As the homeless residents of San Jose begin disappearing, something sinister appears to be happening downtown. 

Together with his friend’s sister, Sumire, they have to uncover what is happening inside the company, but their history makes it difficult for them to trust each other.

Days away from the technology unveiling that will confer unimaginable riches on investors, Ted becomes trapped in a web of corruption protecting the company. While hiding from the police, he has to find out why people are disappearing before it’s too late.

My Take:

TO KILL A UNICORN bravely goes where few mysteries tread, the super paranoid and highly secretive world of northern California’s Silicon Valley. You may be unaware of the term “Unicorn” as used in the venture capital industry to describe a privately held startup company with a value of over $1 billion, but after reading DC Palter’s new novel, you might better understand the insanity and wild speculation that has driven the tech industry for decades.

Taking inspiration from recent scandals in what must be considered one of the most important sectors of the US economy, Palter’s personal experience working with high-flying startups fills in lots of gaps in the arcane knowledge of bringing far-fetched ideas to market as tech marvels. Beneath the compelling murder mystery, we’re exposed to the sinister underbelly of a new company that’s the current darling of investors. Courting the fat cats prior to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) is an obsession where the unscrupulous gamble on the viability of their fledgling dream children forms the ultimate aim of amassing obscene fortunes for themselves.

Like Lewis Carroll made Wonderland on the other side of the Looking Glass, Palter slowly peels back the multilayered masks of greed, envy, and subterfuge behind our computer screens. Everything appears tainted by the utter corruption that chases enormous wealth and power. The dark satire storyline under the guise of a modern noir detective story follows a somewhat less than hard-boiled main character who sips sake instead of guzzling whiskey. In truth, he’s a Japanese-American hacker who just wants to find out what happened to a dear friend.

TO KILL A UNICORN is a marvelous experience. Part mystery, part science fiction, part fantasy, it is a weirdly embellished, whimsical tale seasoned with heartbreaking empathy making this one of the most unique and memorable stories you’ll read this year.

Coming 2.1.23 from Pandamoon Publishing.

Author Bio:

DC Palter is a startup founder and CEO, with twenty-five years of experience leading tech companies. As a venture investor and startup advisor, he’s guided dozens more. PitchingAngels.com, his blog on business strategy and venture capital is a popular resource for founders.

Starting his career as a research engineer in Japan, DC developed a deep appreciation for the Japanese language and culture. He’s the editor-in-chief of Japonica, a daily journal of Japanese culture, and the author of Colloquial Kansai Japanese, a guide to the Osaka-Kyoto dialect beloved by a generation of language learners. He’s also published two textbooks on satellite communications. To Kill a Unicorn is his first novel.

DC holds an MFA in creative writing along with degrees in engineering, marketing, and law. He currently resides in the Silicon Beach area of Los Angeles together with his wife.

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