A scorched circle remains at the site of a peculiar robbery that’s left one policeman dead and another, Rob Quinn, in a coma. The police don’t want a band of enhanced bounty hunters involved, but for air elemental Zack Stevens, with his best friend Rob teetering between life and death, it’s personal. He and his team: Bree the Werepanther, Stella a schoolgirl / Hyde creature, Blue a shadow traveler, Liv the vampire and Alteea, Liv’s pixie, are determined to catch the perpetrators. When the team discover that a group of powerful, Super class teenagers calling themselves the Acolytes are behind the seemingly disconnected crimes—their instinct is to go easy—they’re just kids. But Zack’s crew underestimates the ruthlessness and skill of their new enemy.
As in the previous two books in his Bounty series (A Bounty With Strings and A Bounty of Evil), author Markus Matthews is inventive and playful while keeping his storytelling tight. He uses Alteea’s tiny size, invisibility-rendering glamor and her miniaturized cellphone to fine effect. One of the Acolytes, who calls himself the Bartender, has unique and impressive powers. The Acolytes are at once ruthlessly amoral, misdirected and awkward. Matthews carefully balances our pity and dislike of these super-powered teens. He also makes a creditable effort in this volume to tell part of the story from another character’s perspective (Zack has been the main narrator thus far) and the choice to shift narration is a promising direction.
Matthews also wisely constructs a credible threat in A PERSONAL BOUNTY–a supervillain, most simply, who is a worthy threat to the heroes. In a genre series, good guys usually succeed; a plausibly dangerous malevolent force offers immense narrative value. Some of the best-remembered fictional villains are worthy, and more—secretive, potent, power hungry sociopaths. Villains like these—Ernst Stavros Blofeld of James Bond’s SPECTRE, Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek’s faceless Borg or the many-headed Hydra of the Marvel universe, are all worth their weight in storytelling gold. Matthews exploration of a worthy adversary is also bodes well.
A PERSONAL BOUNTY is a fine, satisfying addition to Markus Matthews’ growing contemporary fantasy Bounty series. Along with a lively plot, the greatest strength of this fun new volume lies in Matthews’ introduction of an enemy worthy of his heroic team.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader