Safe Haven, Wisconsin. Population 907. . . 906. . . 905. . .
A military helicopter crashes in the tiny Wisconsin town of Safe Haven. Unleashed is a Red Ops group of serial killers-turned-soldiers who go from house to house, business to business torturing the townsfolk for the answer to the question: Where’s Warren Streng?
A sheriff, a firefighter, a single mom, and her 10-year-old son band together for survival and seek the answer to their own question: Why would the military drop on their quiet town a band of programmed, enhanced killing machines whose objective is to: Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate?
One by one South Haven's friends and neighbors meet the men who make up this special force: Ajax, a 7-foot giant whose first victims were his parents, whom he flayed with an electric turkey carver; Bennie, who grew from a child playing with matches into a man who likes to burn and eat his victims; Taylor, a serial killer snatched from death row who likes the crunch and saltiness of his victims’ fingers and toes; and Santiago, a painful manipulator of internal organs.
Afraid gets one of the saddest and goriest starts imaginable when longtime married sweethearts Sal and Maggie are introduced. They bought a home on the lake where the nearest neighbor is miles away, but forgot that in the country no one can hear you scream. Around midnight Maggie hears the microwave beeping and smells burned popcorn. Doesn't Sal know that eating late at night is bad for his heartburn? She's about to go into lecture mode as she hears her husband casually munching popcorn outside her bedroom door. Then she hears her husband's boat driving up. When the trembling woman asks the intruder what he plans to do to her, he answers "everything."
I guess the easiest way to explain Jack Kilborn's Afraid is that it's a cross between the writing of Jack Higgins and Jack Ketchum. Afraid is Kilborn's first novel; let's hope it won't be his last.
About the author: Jack Kilborn is the pseudonym of J.A. Konrath, author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels series that include Whiskey Sour (2004), Bloody Mary (2005), Rusty Nail (2006), Dirty Martini (2007), and Cherry Bomb (2009).
Konrath is also the editor of the hitman anthology These Guns For Hire (2006). His short stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines and collections, and his work has been translated into ten languages.