Genre: Mystery, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “HD66: search for a cure or a killer is a startup mystery novel. Blending entrepreneurship with murder, the plot weaves together the discovery of a drug for an incurable disease with an unexpected invention that does the opposite – kills upon contact. Filled with evil venture capitalists, egotistical c-level executives, and eccentric scientists, HD66 lets the reader experience the roller coaster world of a startup.”
Review: I received HD66 for Christmas from my basically aunt and uncle (everyone’s got those people who are relatives in every possible way except blood). As some backstory, I actually know the author (as do the basically aunt and uncle), because our families grew up on two neighboring streets for much of my young adolescence. I’ve shared several holidays with Babs and her family, but had no idea that she was writing a novel until I unwrapped HD66 and saw the listed author. This is her first novel, and ties together several passions of hers, including startup culture and entrepreneurship. I really loved the many Pittsburgh references, having lived in the city for over twenty years of my life. For example, when Errol hears the lions roar from his Highland Park home, I was immediately hit with young memories of being able to hear the lions from my old house. From places to people to accents, there was much to love in HD66 as a Pittsburgh native. I didn’t fully understand the emphasis on how the characters were involved in a startup; it seemed unnecessary repetition to me at times, but I think that largely stems from my own inexperience when it comes to startup culture. I also found it difficult to be fully on board with the fact that Detective Hendrik fully accepts Brie as his partner; he relays information to her that would certainly be classified in a real murder case. But given that this book is a work of fiction, I fully accept that Babs can take as much artistic license as she likes. Overall, the mystery was compelling and I found myself debating throughout the novel who Errol’s killer was. While I decided on the correct character about halfway through the book, I still didn’t understand the murder motives or objective until the very end. Overall, I think this is a great first novel and will certainly appeal to people interested in murder mysteries, biomedical science, Pittsburgh, and startup culture.
Rating: In the past week I have read two books that I have not wanted to rate, albeit for very different reasons. As someone who grew up with the author of HD66, I don’t trust myself to be an unbiased rater. I believe the pros and cons I covered in my review will be enough to encourage or discourage potential readers, rendering a rating unnecessary. My reasons for not wanting to rate the second book will be explained in a future review, but given that I encountered two books in the same week that left me unwilling to rate, I’ve decided to create an “unrated” category for certain tricky books.