Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a love it or leave it kind of book. So much of the reader’s feelings about this book will come from the emotional attachment you have to the original characters that Meddling Kids is based upon. For me this is definitely a love it kind of book and may just well be my favorite read of the year.
In 1977, in Blyton Hills, Oregon; the teenage detectives who call themselves the Blyton Summer Detective Club solve their final case. They uncover a two bit criminal acting as a monster to scare people away as he searches for a long lost treasure. There is even a picture in the newspapers the next day, the four kids and their faithful dog, the criminal tied up on the ground in full costume. Except for his mask that they are holding up. The criminal says, that he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.
Only Andy, Kerri, Nate and Peter know that there was a lot more to that night they spent stranded in that house all by themselves. That everything that happened could not be explained away by a small time crook with a mask. The Blyton Summer Detective Club has been hiding from a dark secret that has haunted them the rest of their lives. Now they have to face the truth about what happened and what may still be waiting for them.
For Andy, the tomboy of the group. The memories of that night have turned her into a drifter, never settling down or able to maintain a commitment or relationship. She is on the run and wanted in two states. Kerri, the brilliant kid genius is now a bartender in New York. Her life wasting away and her potential gone. She holds onto a drinking problem and Tim, the lovable Weimaraner; a dog descended from the original canine member of the Detective Club. Nate, the young boy fixated on horror novels has checked himself into a mental institution in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend from the Detective Club he still sees is Peter, their fourth member with the boyish charm and movie star looks. Only Peter is dead. He committed suicide. Peter has been dead for years.
Andy knows that the time has come to get the gang back together. That they have to face the fears of what happened to them and uncover the real mystery of Blyton Hills. But they’re not the same people anymore. They are broken and damaged. First she will need to convince Kerri and then they will have to break Nate out of the asylum and then, she has no idea what is waiting for them. Because it knows, she is sure of it, it knows that they are coming. This time there won’t be a man in a mask, no this time the monsters will be real.
Okay, four meddling kids and a dog playing teenage detectives; you would have to be from another planet to not see that this is a variation on Scooby and the Gang. No Scrappy Doo so that is definitely a plus. But Cantero takes his characters into a deeper world, a far more real emotional world of lost hope and damaged psyches. The underlying theme is what if Scooby and the Gang had come across real monsters. A real with and warlock or a real sea creature? What if, for once, the legend was true. But Cantero doesn’t settle on just any legends for his bad guys, no he goes full blown Lovecraft here.
This is a fun read, disturbing on some levels, but just a whole lot of fun.