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by David Morrell

Publishers Weekly Morrell takes a creative kind of breaking-and-entering as the premise for his latest thriller (after Nightscape), a gripping story that demands to be read in a single sitting. Disguising himself as a journalist, Frank Balenger, ex-U.S. Army Ranger and Iraqi war veteran, joins a group of "Creepers," also known as infiltrators, urban explorers or city speleologists-men and women who outfit themselves with caving gear to break into and explore buildings that have long been closed up and abandoned. Though what they're doing is technically illegal, participants pride themselves on never stealing or destroying anything they find at these sites. They take only photographs and aim to leave no footprints. Balenger joins a group of four: the leader, Professor Robert Conklin, high school teacher Vincent Vanelli and graduate students Rick and Cora Magill. This gang infiltrates the Paragon Hotel, an abandoned, seven-story, pyramidal Asbury Park, N.J., structure built in 1901 by eccentric, hemophiliac Morgan Carlisle. Balenger and the professor have a special agenda, but the others are there simply for the thrills. Things quickly begin to unravel in life-threatening ways once the intrepid infiltrators penetrate the building-they aren't the only ones creeping around the spooky hotel. Morrell delivers first-rate, suspenseful storytelling once again. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Frank Balenger is a New York Times reporter doing a Sunday magazine profile on urban explorers, better known as creepers. It's an illegal activity but a very popular one, in which adventure seekers invade crumbling old structures in search of thrills and perhaps a glimpse of the past. Frank joins a team of four as they prepare to enter the long-shuttered and mysterious Paragon Hotel. They surreptitiously enter as darkness envelops the city, planning to emerge before dawn none the worse for wear. At least that's the plan. Initially they encounter the expected assortment of crumbling furniture, magazines, and rats, but soon they realize they are not alone, and their counterparts are not friendly people. It turns out that Frank's group has a hidden agenda involving treasure, and their rivals are after the same loot. Throw in an even more unfriendly kidnapper and his captor, and you have a nightmare in the making. Veteran thriller writer Morrell gleefully and shamelessly cherry picks from several genres (crime, horror, adventure, western) and blends them into a violent, claustrophobic nightmare. There's the survive-the-night-in-a-haunted-house plot starring a Norman Bates villain; there's a Treasure of the Sierra Madre cast that would rather die than give up the loot; and there's a version of the classic western in which the outlaws and the homesteaders join forces to battle the Indians. An unabashedly entertaining thriller that has blockbuster movie written all over it. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Why would a college history professor, three of his former students, and a reporter with questionable credentials willingly embark on a journey that requires them to lower themselves into a manhole on a late October night? Because they are, according to Morrell's (First Blood; Extreme Denial) latest offering, urban explorers known as "creepers." These modern-day adventurers spend countless hours crawling through storm drains, transit tunnels, and the like in search of abandoned vestiges of civilization: factories, brickworks, railway stations-even military bases. In the case here, it is a hotel built in 1901 by a wealthy eccentric. During this adventure, the group encounters not only the dangers of decaying structure, but also other less-than-scrupulous urban speleologists and, finally, a demented kidnapper. Despite Morrell's reputation for fast-paced action and the distinctive setting he has created here, the book's momentum slows from the implausibility of the situations invented solely for the sake of plot enhancement. Recommended to die-hard fans and curiosity seekers in larger public libraries.-Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.