Written by: Edgar Cantero
Published by: Blumhouse Books/Doubleday
Imagine if the Scooby Doo gang was real and all grown up and had to reunite for the first time in 13 years to battle a Lovecraftian-style horror in their old home town. That is exactly the premise of Meddling Kids, a thoroughly amusing supernatural mystery written by Edgar Cantero.
In the late 1970s, a group teen and pre-teen kids who call themselves The Blyton Summer Detective Club, modeled on the Scooby Doo Gang complete with their trusty dog, help the police solve mysteries in a small Oregon town. In their final case in 1977, they helped to unmask and nab the Sleepy Lake ‘monster’, a man who was looking to cash in on the riches supposedly located in the abandoned Deboen Mansion. While that mystery was solved, an unspoken uneasiness and terror fell over the kids and as young adults they would eventually all go their separate ways
Cut ahead to 1990 and the four members of the club are all living in different parts of the country but still haunted by the experiences of their last case. In fact Peter (think Fred) who had gone on to become an actor, has died due to a drug overdose. However his ghost still keeps Nate (shaggy) company, or is it all in Nate’s mind, after all he has been living voluntarily in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. Andrea “Andy” Rodriguez is the ‘Daphne’ of the group, a beautiful but tough former soldier and the one who brings the gang back together. Then there is Kerri (Velma) the brains of the group and a down-on-her-luck biologist now working as a bartender. Rounding out the team is their beloved Weimaraner, Tim, a descendant of the original mystery solving pooch.
After busing Nate out of the asylum in Arkham, the group begins a cross-country trek back to their hometown in Oregon. Each finally relates the feeling of dread that they experienced after their last case, knowing that even though a criminal was caught, a much greater evil still lies hidden in the old mansion.
As a huge fan of the Scooby Doo cartoons of the 1970s Cantero’s modern take on the group was both fun and refreshing. The flashbacks to their early adventures harken back to the fun and exuberance of the series which is contrasted harshly by their adult lives which are a total mess. But this all helps to build up the horror which they must finally confront and the source of their dysfunctional lives for the past thirteen years.
Cantero gives us just enough background on each of the characters to flesh them out and make us relate to them before we get to the heart of the story and the mysterious evil surrounding Deboen Mansion. Adding Lovecraftian horror into the mix makes the threat all the more palpable. Meddling Kids a brisk page turner and a hell of a lot of fun.