Michael Byrnes
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Buy *Bounty* by Michael Byrnesonline

Michael Byrnes
432 pages
July 2016
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The future is here, and it isn’t pretty. In 2017, what social media has wrought becomes an agency of vengeance, fueled by sophisticated technology that goes beyond simplifying business transactions and a new instrument for government surveillance against attack. The information superhighway, in conjunction with the dark web, has posted a new take over where law enforcement agencies have failed. The names of criminals who have escaped justice are posted, rewards for their deaths to be paid upon appropriate proof, many of them white collar crooks, attorneys, those who have escaped punishment in spite of their heinous crimes. lights the fire that spreads quickly as people respond to a mysterious site dedicated to righting wrongs in a contemporary world where justice is seldom fair and wealth determines the apportionment of punishment. First seen as a threat to be addressed by government cyber agencies, a task force is assembled to locate the perpetrator of “mob rule and vigilante retribution” in pursuit of an international galley of rogues, the names listed of the guilty chosen on a global scale. FBI Special Agent Roman Novak, heading the cyber task force, focuses at first on the killings in the United States while monitoring those across the world as the number of wanted increases dramatically--as do the rewards offered for successful completion of the task. Operation CLICKKILL expands exponentially, a coalition of agencies cooperating as they put together the pieces of a vast network that has infiltrated supposedly secure and sophisticated networks.

The novel is unusual because of its methods of investigation. It becomes essentially a procedural, though one grounded in cyberspace and the murky depths of the dark web, investigative tools linked to the sophisticated technology that has all but replaced real-time warfare, a threat to government security, the final frontier: cyber-domination. Whatever the end game, Novak understands it has begun with human greed, tracking the source of the breach that began the cycle. From the vaguest of clues, the task force is relentless in its mission, though maddeningly unable to keep pace with the dramatic deaths of the arrogant criminals snatched from their fortified hideouts to face the end.

As the chase narrows and its complications expand, Byrnes explores the twisted path of web detectives seeking their elusive prey, the significance of the breach far more critical than the vigilante retribution of as the threat against the country’s technological security is realized. The murdered criminals are just window-dressing in a larger plan, pawns in the game of a master with the most sinister of motives. Though the task force gets close, there is no resolution, no relief. Bounty4Justice is  only the opening salvo in a deadly game of internet cat-and-mouse, an attack with deadly consequences should the perpetrator elude captivity.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2016

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