The Darkest Secrets Live…--Creepers by David Morrell, Copyright ©2005 by Morrell Enterprises, Inc. published by CDS Books
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.
…In Places You’re Not Supposed To Be.
T.L. Hines’ The Unseen was my first fictional exposure to urban explorers. I enjoyed that book tremendously and was looking forward to another author’s take on the subject. This isn’t just a story of a group of explorers that stumble onto a mystery in an abandoned luxury hotel. It’s a story of a group of explorers with secrets, meeting others with agendas, meeting others with more secrets, and wondering who will win in the end.
The story starts out innocently enough. Professor Robert Conklin invites New York Times reporter Frank Balenger on an exploration with three of his former students, Cora, Rick and Vinnie. They’re going to check out the Paragon Hotel in Asbury Park on the Jersey shore. Built in 1901, it was abandoned in the early 1970s when its owner died. Now it’s slated for demolition and now would be their only chance to explore this magnificent art deco structure.
The only safe way into the hotel is through the sewers. They make their way through the rat-infested tunnels, finding some interesting animal mutations along the way. Once inside the hotel, they begin their exploration, learning what they can about previous tenants and the mysterious owner, Morgan Carlisle.
But they’re not the only ones exploring the Paragon. A group of thieves, eager to make a quick score, have found their own way inside, and they’re interested in whatever treasures the professor might know about. And it seems he knows a lot…the professor has secrets that he reluctantly shares with the others. Frank, too, has his secrets, and they come out as well. Following the professor’s information, they uncover a treasure in gold…and a terrified woman who had been held captive in the hotel for several months. Her captor is Morgan Carlisle’s son, she says. Impossible, says the professor. He had no children. Then who is her captor? And what connection does and the captor have to Frank’s missing wife, Diane?
Everyone has secrets, and everyone’s playing for keeps. Question is, who will be alive at the end? And who will be sane?
I give this story THREE STARS.