Author: David Morrell
The following review was contributed by: Christopher Friesen
It seems ironic, but the few remaining places left on this planet for people to explore, are place weíve already been. Boarded up, abandoned, forgotten old buildings, each with a multitude of stories to tell, sit idle, waiting to be discovered by urban adventurers, or as they are known by the slang term, Creepers.
In Creepers, a writer known only as Balenger joins a foursome of urban explorers as they prepare to enter their most mysterious building yet: the Paragon Hotel. Set in the surreal landscape of a once vibrant costal playground in New Jersey, the hotel has been abandoned and sealed since the early 1970ís.
The four are experienced creepers whose urban exploring adventures date back to university when their ringleader, their professor, a man named Conklin, recruited them for his expeditions.
They all have reputations that could be tarnished if they are caught breaking and entering into private property, regardless of the fact that it is vacant and abandoned. Infiltrating is a criminal act, so they conduct themselves by a strict set of ethics that includes the credo: Take only photographs leave only footprints. Balenger is there to write an article on their activities.
As the five enter the building, Professor Conklin orates on the background information that he has acquired through his research. It seems that in the hotelís heyday, a prominent gangland enforcer kept a suite in the Paragon, and legend has it, he had a vault installed. The four are there to confirm the legend, or prove it false.
But in the Paragon, every corner and every room holds a story of the lives lived, loves lost and those whose lives were destroyed. Not to mention the feral cats and colonies of rats that infests the lower levels. There are many hazards awaiting anyone who would enter a long abandoned building. And Creepers arenít the only ones looking through abandoned buildings.
As the team searches the hotel, they are confronted by these hazards and by a group of bandits bent on getting whatever the legendary vault may contain. But they are all about to find out that the Paragon Hotel holds a secret more sinister than anything they could imagine. Itís only when they stumble upon that secret that the real horror begins.
Creepers is a well plotted, tightly woven story played out on an other-worldly, yet vaguely familiar landscape. At times gritty and twisted, Morrell keeps the tension high and his readers on edge as the progressive revelations and discoveries keep getting, well, creepier.
The revelation of secrets, the exposure of character flaws and the ability of Balenger to overcome both are interwoven into the narrative in a way that only a master story teller could achieve. And while the ending explodes with action it does end abruptly and wouldnít suffer from a few more pages of denouement.
There is a subtle psychology at work in this book. As the characters motives for entering old buildings-to find solace in the past, to escape the pressures of the modern world with all its modern insecurity-crosses paths with the readers motives for picking up the book in the first place; it seems they are the same.
Thatís what Morrell gives us; Creepers is a well written, enjoyable book that offers a vivid, vicarious experience plucking forbidden fruit and one that allows us to escape this world and fight the battle for survival alongside Balenger. Get a copy of this book and enter the Paragon Hotel at your own risk. Enjoy your stay.