Review: WEBCAM by Jack Kilborn (JA Konrath)

WEBCAM - A Novel of Terror - Jack Kilborn, J.A. Konrath

Let me get this out of the way first - I liked WEBCAM, even if I did find myself ultimately disappointed. It's a far from perfect read for me, but I don't feel like my time was completely wasted. Hence, the three-star rating. To explain why I was disappointed will take some doing, so here goes.


Jack Kilborn is JA Konrath's go-to pseudonym for horror books, and they're usually billed as "A Novel Of Terror." Such books have included Afraid, Trapped, Endurance, Haunted House, and (I think) a few others. For me, Afraid has stood at the top of these offerings and is the pinnacle of Kilborn's efforts. The sequence listed above also carries with it a certain staple that I expect in a Kilborn book - primarily intense, squirm-inducing violence that is graphically rendered, and a whole bucketfuls of spilled blood, guts, and gore. The villains are bat-shit crazy psychotics, occasionally of the inbred variety, and the good guys are normal people caught up in unexpected horrors that are way, way, way over their heads.


In WEBCAM, a nutjob is killing webcam models. Given the endless stream of horror that pretty much is the Internet these days, this seems like perfect fodder for some Kilborn scares. Unfortunately, much of what I dug in previous Kilborn books are sorely lacking here. I didn't find myself squirming uncomfortably as I did back in the days when Afraid and Trapped hit my Kindle, and it seems like more than a little stretch of the imagination to call this a Novel Of Terror since there's not actually much real terror in it. At least not for my tastes.


What WEBCAM is, though, is a fairly standard but mostly well-delivered serial killer police procedural that feels more like a high-tech, watered-down retread of the movie Seven than a straight-up fright fest. Things run smoothly for the most part, although I found the relationship between lead character Detective Tom Mankowski and his visiting long-distance girlfriend grew weary rather quickly. And the finale is more concerned with shoehorning in Konrath's long-running series staple, Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels, and adding in a few unnecessary layers to the story's end all in the name of developing a cross-over with a few other newly released Konrath titles. The climax is rushed to an abrupt and unsatisfying finish, as if the author grew bored with the material or was running up against a hard, self-imposed deadline.


On the bright side, WEBCAM is certainly a decent time-killer, and it does have a few cat-and-mouse thrills in it, along with a few chuckles here and there. And that cover design is absolutely brilliant!