Creepers by David Morrell ReviewCDS Books, September, 2005
Hardcover, 368 pages
"Creepers" is the slang term for urban explorers who delve into abandoned building, subways and the like to see what history has left behind. It's illegal and dangerous, which is part of the thrill, of course. The real pros use professional spelunking equipment and take safety precautions. Writer David Morrell takes this real-life pastime and turns it into a spine-tingling thriller. As the story opens on a brisk October night, five urban explorers (they don't really like the term "creepers") are packing up their gear and doing last minute preparations for the night's adventure.
Led by Professor Robert Conklin, the explorers welcome a new guest tonight: Frank Balenger, who says he is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. The group also includes high school teacher Vincent Vanelli and married graduate students Rick and Cora Magill. The group enters the abandoned luxury The Paragon Hotel which was the queen of the Jersey shore in its day. Built by a millionaire recluse who had hemophilia and a fear of going outside his home, the hotel is shaped like a pyramid. Full of hidden traps for the unwary, it also has its share of dark secrets which could prove to be fatal for the urban explorers.
David Morrell has a way of grabbing the reader in the first paragraph of his books and placing him right in the middle of the action. You can almost hear the sound of the rising water and the curious rats in the tunnels, and feel the cold wind on your neck as you follow the creepers on their fateful expedition. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that not only does the hotel have secrets that it is hiding: the explorers also have things that they are hiding from one another. Morrell keeps the suspense level high and the atmosphere creepy. He also adds enough plot twists and turns to keep even the most jaded mystery reader guessing what will happen next right up until the last page. Creepy, fascinating and very, very entertaining, Creepers will keep you up all night.
--Claire E. White
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