by David Morrell

Year published: 2005
Category: thriller

SUMMARY {from the back cover}:

The darkest secrets live in places you’re not supposed to be.

On a cold October night, five people gather in a run-down motel on the Jersey shore and prepare to break into the Paragon Hotel. The once-magnificent structure is now boarded up and marked for demolition.

They are “creepers”: urban explorers with a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their dying secrets. Reporter Frank Balenger joins them to profile this highly illegal activity for the New York Times. But he isn’t looking for just another story, and soon after they enter the rat-infested tunnel leading to the hotel, he gets more than he bargained for. Danger, fear, and death await the creepers in a place ravaged by time and redolent of evil.


Creepers was written by David Morrell, the best-selling thriller writer whose 1972 debut novel was First Blood, the original Rambo story. Morrell is a literary academic and a master of the craft of writing. Creepers is a fascinating book, expertly crafted, told from the perspective of the protagonist, reporter Frank Balenger, a no-nonsense tough guy with secrets of his own.

To avoid spoilers, I can’t tell you much about the plot beyond the back-cover summary written above. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot of plot. Creepers reads like a nightmare; it’s a mood as much as an actual story. In a word, the mood is creepy. The setting is dark and disturbing in ways both vague and concrete. Nothing is clear; the people, places, and events feel like they are in shadows. From the get-go you sense that bad things are going to happen, and they do. The bad things unfold with a crescendo of fear that pulses through the whole book. The evils encountered are not “original”; they are archetypal, and all the more chilling because they feel so timeless and familiar. Morrell maintains the nightmarish sensibility all the way to the end with unseen dangers, traps, and the elusive villain himself. Like in a dream, you never know what the characters will stumble on next.

Creepers is scary. I wouldn’t describe it as horrifying, but as you might expect, the story does include some graphic violence.

This book will appeal to: Stephen King fans.

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