MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar Cantero

MEDDLING KIDS
Edgar Cantero
July 2017
Doubleday

Honestly, Cantero had me at “Meddling Kids.” As a child who grew up on Scooby Doo (I used to measure units of time in Scooby Doo episodes, according to my parents.) I was both excited and leery that this book may or may not pay off. I was pleased when it did.

The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon’s Zoinx River Valley….get it, you guys? ZOINX?) solves their last case in the summer of 1977, literally unmasking an old man who had been causing trouble. The only thing is, the supernatural things happening couldn’t be explained—and certainly couldn’t have been the work of the fortune hunter they captured.

When 1990 rolls around, the kids have grown up and apart, and the unexplained events of that last case have not only broken up the detective club, but have haunted the kids well into adulthood. Andy the tomboy is wanted in several states and is tired of running from the past. Kerri, once a budding biologist, is now losing herself in a bottle alongside her Weimaraner Tim. Nate is in a mental institution where he is visited often by the apparition of Peter, the handsome jock who committed suicide years earlier.

The team reunites (mostly, since Peter is still dead, but he’s along to give his two cents) and returns to town to investigate what really happened that night years ago. And they find that supernatural events are still happening—and may have been set into motion by their own meddling years before.

Cantero has a darkly funny voice, and I found myself grinning at many turns. And while this is a lovely homage to the cartoons of my youth, it also steps firmly into Lovecraft territory—complete with underground mythological beings and vampire-like creatures. It’s both fun and smart, and quite original—a highly recommended summer read.

Erica Ruth Neubauer