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|Genre||Horror fiction, Horror Mystery|
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2010)|
Frank Balenger, a reporter, meets a group of four 'Creepers', urban explorers whose primary target in this case is the long abandoned Paragon Hotel. The Creepers introduce themselves as Rick, an athletic young man who is the husband of Cora, an intelligent and attractive young woman who is still longed for by Vinnie, another member of the group. They are led by Professor Conklin, who introduced them to 'Creeping' while they were students of his in College.
The history of the Paragons owner, Morgan Carlisle, is told to the group by Conklin. Carlisle was a Hemophiliac ("The slightest bump or fall causes almost uncontrollable bleeding..."), who never left his Hotel until one morning he walked out to the beach the Hotel is next to and shot himself in the face with a shotgun.
The five soon break into the Paragon through an underground sewer system which leads them to the pool area. They wander about, eyeing old pictures of the Hotel in its Glory, and walk up the aged stairs to some of the rooms, discovering, among other things, a decaying monkey in a suitcase left there years ago by the rooms occupant. Suddenly the floor gives and Vinnie almost falls through, though Balenger is able to assist him up and to safety. The group has a bathroom break by urinating into waterbottles (they refuse to leave any evidence of their presence behind), when something moves in the dark distance and Balenger takes out a handgun, though this is unnoticed by any of the others.
They decide to leave but the stairs begin to sway and the Professor injures his leg. After the Professor is safe, Balenger and the others notice a sound in the distance, which to their horror they realize is whistling to a song Rick played earlier. Before they realize it they have been attacked and Balenger's gun is stolen. Three men tie the Creepers up and introduce themselves as Mack, JD, and Tod. JD throws Rick over the banister to fall three stories and likely to his death.
Tod reveals that the reason they came was to steal from the seemingly mythical vault of a gangster named Carmine Danata, who was a frequent guest of the Hotel and was supposed to be a friend of Carlisle. Eventually they find Danata's suite. Vinnie and Balenger set the wounded Professor on a couch in the room and set off to find the Vault. They find it hidden behind a wall and in a long corridor that is in between the rooms. The vault is opened when to their shock they find a woman has been living inside the vault for an undetermined amount of time. She tells them her name is Amanda, and she reveals that she is under the capture of a mysterious man named Ronnie, who lives inside the hotel.
Balenger, Tod, and Vinnie go back to the room only to find Conklin decapitated. It appears that Ronnie has killed him and disappeared. Tod, JD, and Mack decide to leave Balenger, Vinnie, Cora, and Amanda so that Ronnie may kill them as he wishes. The three leave the Creepers tied up, but Balenger is able to get out of the restraints and help the others out of theirs. Tod then returns to them, saying that JD and Mack ran into hidden piano wire and were killed by Ronnie. Balenger gets his gun back and the five try to go upstairs, Balenger remembering that Carlisle's suite had been there.
They get to Carlisle's suite only to discover that Ronnie has made this his home, complete with an exercise studio, set of elevators, kitchen, and movie theatre. They discover that Ronnie has a video system all about the Paragon and has been spying on them all the time. Then Ronnie himself appears on the screen and waves to them while welding the door they got in from shut. Seemingly trapped, the elevator starts to come up. Balenger aims his gun at it, but when the doors open Rick steps out, still barely alive and impaled by a piece of furniture. An ecstatic Cora runs toward him, only for Rick to die again in her arms. She begins to cry, but is suddenly shot from under the floor. Ronnie has made a system under the floor and could hear Cora and shoot at her. Vinnie begins to weep for the now dead Cora but Balenger stops him, insisting that Ronnie can hear them from underneath. In the confusion, Tod disappears.
Vinnie is injured in a shootout but Balenger and Amanda are able to help him to the roof. Unable to get all three of them down, Balenger decides the only thing to do is go back to the bottom floor. They are able to get there and find Tod, who says the door they came in from is indeed welded. Ronnie once again appears. Tod is killed, but the others manage to escape to the nearby beach. Amanda and Balenger bury an unconscious Vinnie, hoping to hide him and possibly save him if Ronnie comes out to find them. Sure enough he does, and Balenger has a scuffle which is ended when Amanda beats Ronnie over the head from behind with a wooden slat. The three make their way back to the Paragon, which is now surrounded by Policemen. When an officer asks what has happened, Balenger replies, "The Paragon Hotel."
David Morrell also released a sequel novel, called Scavenger.