Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
First of all, Afraid by Jack Kilborn isn’t a horror novel, though it seems to be billed as such. The book is really an action novel with elements of extreme terror in it, not to mention tons of violence.
The story centers around five crazed killers, who have been trained and programmed with microchips in their brains by the U.S. military to go into enemy towns to kill, rape, and torture the innocent civilians. The purpose of which is to demoralize the enemy.
This time, however, the team is sent to the American town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin to find one particular person. Except for a small handful of people, everyone in the town will be killed, many of them brutally. These trained killers make Hannibal Lector seem like a choir boy. The handful of people who manage to survive (an elderly sheriff, a waitress and her son and his dog, and a fireman) have information that the killers want, and the survivors of the onslaught fight back relentlessly through the long night to keep from being murdered, though a number of them are seriously tortured at various times. This is a fight-to-the-death with no prisoners being taken over a twenty-four hour period of time. It’s anybody’s guess as to who will live to see the dawn.
Afraid is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is violent in every sense of the word with severe torture scenes that might turn one’s stomach. Still, this book is very well written by Kilborn, and each chapter leaves you hanging with an unexpected surprise that forces you to continue reading on.
I’m not sure if I bought the premise that an entire town could be wiped out by five highly trained commandos, no matter what their skills, without more people resisting the cold-hearted murders. I also didn’t buy the lottery explanation. I know people can be greedy, but I think more citizens might have questioned what was happening and then fought back. Americans have a way of becoming very combative when push comes to shove. That, however, didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and rooting for the good guys. I think Afraid would make a terrific movie, but a lot of the violence would have to be toned down just to get an R rating.
For action and suspense, Afraid by Jack Kilborn is highly recommended. I came close to giving the novel five stars, instead of four, but a few small things bothered me, so the novel is getting a very strong B+. The book is definitely worth its $13.95 cover price.