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Bounty: A Novel Hardcover – July 26, 2016
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“[Michael] Byrnes fuses science fiction and espionage in this smart, near-futuristic dystopic thriller. . . . The action-packed story line is full of plot twists and explores such topical matters as cyberterrorism and hacktivism. Byrnes raises some serious questions about humankind’s increasing dependence on—and assimilation with—the digital world.”—Publishers Weekly
“Vigilantism goes viral in this thriller about a website that pays bounties for the killing of unpunished child abusers, financial scammers, human rights violators, and other bad actors. . . . Charles Bronson’s Death Wish meets the Internet.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This is a grand-scale spin on the vigilante story. . . . Byrnes’s vigilante offers a twist on the theme: he’s mastered cyberspace to the point where he can outsource some of his to-do list, offering a cash reward on his website to anyone who will kill the crooked banker . . . and the weasel who bilked Medicare for $127 million. And he’s just getting started.”—Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Ballantine Books (July 26, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0804178348
- ISBN-13 : 978-0804178341
- Item Weight : 1.46 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.37 x 1.36 x 9.52 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,196,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This story examines that idea. An online website, bounty4justice, publishes a list of 'targets'. Subscribers are allowed to vote 'guilty' or 'not guilty', and each 'guilty' vote increases the bounty on these people. Anyone who can prove they have murdered a target can claim a bounty, and some of those bounties are huge.
At the start, the targets are truly horrible people, the sort that in real life, if they die, you might think, 'The world will be better off without him.' Not that I would ever approve of murder, but on the other hand, it can sometimes be hard to sympathize fully and really you can't be entirely surprised at the outcome. The problem is, bounty4justice's targets become less and less despicable as time passes. Eventually, even law enforcement officers are listed, whose only 'crime' is to try to track down and stop the people who are running bounty4justice.
Normally I don't read fiction in order to give serious thought to moral values, but this book did an outstanding job of doing two things. The story is gripping and I literally inhaled it. It also made me think a lot about the modern world, the ability of some people to destroy lives with apparent legal impunity, and the ever present possibility of vigilante justice.
It's a gripping tale because the premise is that bounty4justice becomes virtually impossible to shut down, even as its goals become increasingly questionable. The internet is vulnerable and it is entirely plausible that a team of skilled hackers could develop an online presence that would be this powerful.
Don't pick up this book when your spare time is limited, because I found myself carrying the book everywhere with me, grabbing every chance to read a few pages here and there. The story is that engrossing.
The book seems very well-researched in matters of cyber warfare, cyber crime, real-life web organizations like Anonymous and Wikileaks, and in matters of assassination, very well-read on matters of secret operations and special-operations forces. It's an Internet-era version of high-tech thrillers pioneered by Frederick Forsyth, Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy, and this book never strikes a false note. It's a very timely thriller for the age of Edward Snowden and Stuxnet and is the sort of book you might feel compelled to read in one sitting. Highest recommendation to those interested in thrillers or cyber intrigue.