Like many, I was glued to my television a few weeks ago when Carli Lloyd's hat trick lead the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team to their first World Cup in sixteen years. An epic feat to cap off a thrilling and consistently awesome run.
In sports like hockey and soccer, a "hat trick" occurs when a player scores three goals in a single match. They are special events to be celebrated because of their infrequency and the incredible achievement of the player. To give you an idea of their rarity, the average NHL season sees only 15-20 hat tricks, in total. They culminate in fans throwing their hats onto the field or the ice.
Like in sports, authors have tried on many occasion to complete a literary hat trick, but rarely do readers get to experience the satisfaction of a book trilogy where each book is equal to or better than the last.
Enter: one of my favorite authors, Eliot Peper, and the final book in his Uncommon Stock trilogy, Exit Strategy. It was with great anticipation that I cracked into Exit Strategy in advance of its official publication this week, and it blew me away!
Peper is best known for introducing a new genre to the literary community: the startup thriller. In a world that has become fascinated with startups and entrepreneurship, Peper's Uncommon Series introduces a fast-paced thriller, with its protagonist living in the world of entrepreneurship and the startup industry.
The Uncommon Series follows entrepreneur Mara Winkel as she chases down her founder dreams -- and in the process, gets her hands dirty understanding how to pitch, develop business plans, plot customer acquisitions, and have awkward equity conversations. It follows her as her company gets investors, as she expands her company, and as she navigates the growing pains. Through her we can all feel the stresses, challenges, and triumphs of success.
However, marrying the startup and thriller worlds, Peper has crafted a whole new meaning to the concept of "win or die."
By the third novel, Winkel is the hottest player in the startup/tech industry. Her company, Mozaik, is crushing it as the fastest growing startup in the world, and it's heading quickly toward a record-breaking IPO. But there's one little snag standing in the way of Mara and her team realizing their dreams as a company: criminal conspiracy on a global scale.
And that's a whole new level of startup stress.
What resonates most with me about the Uncommon Series is in the beauty of Peper's writing; he invites readers to be a member of Winkel's startup team, and brings us into the fold so that we feel a slice of the emotion involved in chasing down the startup dream with the eye of the tiger. We celebrate the highs, we find ourselves thinking of our own proposed solutions during the lows, and we root for Mara in her investment pitches and for the overall success of her company, as if we have a stake in it. We learn about the art of the pivot, we think through the negotiations as we follow Mozaik's rocket-ship trajectory, and we become emotionally invested in the success of both Mozaik and in Winkel as its founder.
Though startups are the backdrop, the trilogy (or as I like to call it, the "thrillogy") introduces readers to a roller-coaster murder mystery of intrigue and incredible character depth and richness.
Exit Strategy completes an incredible three book cycle -- Peper absolutely nailed the startup thriller and the Uncommon Series is a gift to readers. The depth of Peper's understanding of the startup world, coupled with characters that will remain with us for years to come, offer readers a special lens into a unique, intriguing, and page-turning world.
For three books, I was rooting for Mara Winkel. Having thoroughly enjoyed Exit Strategy, I now take my hat off and throw it onto the field to celebrate Eliot Peper and his hat trick of the Uncommon Series.
A must read book, a must read trilogy.