Morrell's New Thriller Is Superb

David Morrell: Some novelists prefer to keep their creative process to themselves. Not David Morrell. In essays and interviews, the best-selling author generously shares with his readers what inspired him to write a particular book, making the body of his work even more engaging.
He became motivated to write "Creepers," a thriller about a boarded-up hotel on the verge of demolition, the author revealed, when he remembered an abandoned apartment building he explored as a kid. "I used it as an escape from unrelenting arguments between my mother and stepfather that left me afraid to remain at home," he wrote. The novel, published in 2005, won the Bram Stoker award for best novel.
His fascination with the past resulted in yet another gripping novel, "Scavenger." The new thriller is the "Psycho" of the computer age. It involves a hunt for a 100-year-old time capsule, and thanks to its sociological dimensions and intellectual depths, the denouement is far more shocking and horrifying than the Alfred Hitchcock movie.
As protagonists, the author brings back two characters from "Creepers," Amanda Evert and Frank Balenger. Now lovers in New York City, they attend a lecture one day about time capsules. The next thing they know, Balenger wakes up near the ruins of the Paragon Hotel in New Jersey, where "Creepers" was set, and Amanda wakes up in a new, unfamiliar house far from the East Coast.
Amanda is not alone in the house. Four other people were also brought there, drugged and abducted from various cities. As the try to figure out what's going on, a voice announces through a speaker, "Welcome to Scavenger."
They were brought together, the voice explains, because each of them possesses exceptional survival skills. It orders them to don provided coveralls, pick up GPS receivers and step outside.
"Outside" turns out to be a valley. It's a wide open space, but they can't just run away. The voice's _ now speaking through their radio headsets and asking to be called, "The Game Master" _ makes it clear that any attempt to escape will result in dire consequences. Apparently, Amanda and the others are trapped in some sort of deadly game, but they don't know its goal or rules.
As Balenger, back in New York, desperately tries to find Amanda, she and her fellow captives start following the Game Master's often cryptic commands, hoping to win the game and be allowed to leave; many life-threatening obstacles await them.
This story line gives Morrell, the creator of "Rambo," plenty of opportunity to introduce his trademark action scenes. Readers who want something more than an adrenaline rush from this Ph.D. in American literature need not fear. Through the dialogue between the Game Master and the captives, the author explores such concepts as God, the metaphysics of video games, history and time. There are plenty of literary references, too. In fact, Morrell said in an interview, the idea about the novel's structure came from John Barth, the novelist who once said that the most ancient sports, the obstacle race and the scavenger hunt, are also the oldest and most basic elements of story telling.
"Scavenger" is guaranteed to thrill millions of video game players as well as book lovers. It's the most widely appealing Morrell book so far.
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