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Meddling Kids: A Novel by Edgar Cantero
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Meddling Kids: A Novel

by Edgar Cantero

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Clever idea as a teenage detective club, minus one member, and with a descendent of the original dog, returns to the scene of their last triumph--except they're not sure it was a triumph. Sure, they caught the guy in a mask and made the front page of the local newspaper, but nothing has been quite right since. One member has committed suicide; one is spending some quality time in an asylum (accompanied by his dead friend!); one has failed at a variety of endeavors, including the Air Force and prison (she broke out); and the last one is working as a waitress instead of pursuing her dream of becoming a biologist. They are all spooked by the unexplained aspects of their last case, and convinced that the man in the mask was not behind all the strange and frightening events they witnessed. The dog is doing pretty well however; he is definitely the most normal one of the bunch.

For the most part, the author pulls it off. At times, the story totters precariously on the knife's edge between parody and real horror, but real horror wins out in the end. There is also too much writing that deliberately calls attention to itself, as if to say "Isn't this clever?" The characterization of the two female characters, especially Andy, the jailbird, is better fleshed out than that of Nate (the asylum inmate) or Peter (the suicide). The book's humor is generally welcome and helps make for a compelling read, and the supporting characters, include some interesting types. It is the Lovecraftian horror elements that end up defining the story, however. The gore is a bit over the top and cartoonish (imagine an R-rated Scooby Doo), but the story, which is overall a bit too long, races along nicely as it nears its conclusion.

There are other elements, such as a bit of a love story, that also maintain interest. No spoilers from me, however. If you are happy with the first couple of chapters, you'll enjoy the whole thing. ( )
  datrappert | Sep 19, 2017 |
I bought this book on the recommendation of some bloggers/indie bookstores - it seems to have a lot of chatter about it. The summary (I know, I shouldn't believe it!) makes the book seem like a Scooby-Doo/Stranger Things type book, which it does - it just does it in such a way that the book isn't very readable.

I slogged through this book waiting to see if it would get better or if the ending justified my time. Unfortunately, it didn't. The premise is great - what will the Scooby-Doo gang (or Stranger Things gang) be like years after their adventures? Will their lives be altered by what they have seen or done when solving some of their mysteries? The way it was written that didn't sit with me. It alternated between general dialogue to screen play type dialogue. It also contained too much detail on unimportant things such as a fight scene or a car ride. The detail didn't add to the story it just seemed that the author believed it was more important than the reader.

I think this story would have been much more impactful if it was a graphic novel. A work of fiction wasn't the right format for this book.

I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this story, it just didn't resonate with me. ( )
  mfbarry | Sep 10, 2017 |
The Scooby Doo gang meets H.P. Lovecraft in this great, fun story. Thirteen years after the resolution of their last case, the Blyton Summer Detective Club reopens the case. Something about it has haunted them and now draws them back to the house on the tiny island where they trapped the monster responsible, a costumed crook in a mask, like those before. But was there more to the case? Everyone is older and not nearly as successful as their colorful start suggested. In fact, one is dead and become a ghost. The story starts moderately dark and gets darker. Very entertaining tale, well-written, and, no, the dog doesn't talk.
  NickHowes | Aug 24, 2017 |
This was a fun, over the top, nostalgic read. I've always been a huge fan of the classic kids cartoon, Scooby Doo, so I was more than ready to devour an adult "continuation? of Scooby's gang. Due to copyright and all that, the names are all changed as are their personalities. Nate (Shaggy) borders on the edge of crazy and voluntarily has shut himself in a loony bin, Andy (Velma) is super butch, strong, and obsessed with weapons, Kerri (Daphne) is the gorgeous super smart college dropout, and Peter (Fred) became a Hollywood success only to commit suicide and of course we can't forget Tim (Scooby), their faithful companion. Thirteen years after they solved their last mystery the gang reunites to put to rest some lingering doubts they had about the weird circumstances surrounding the Sleepy Lake Monster. It's been years since they've worked together, but they quickly realize that this one might be more than a man in a mask. Lots of fun, I want more! ( )
  ecataldi | Aug 15, 2017 |
***This book was reviewed for Random House/Doubleday via Edelweiss

Cantero's Meddling Kids was such a fun book! It's a cheeky parody drawing on reminiscences of childhood classics like Scooby-Doo and The Three Investigators, with helpings of Lovecraft, King, and others added to taste. I could see echoes of 80s action shows peeking through as well. Many references are glaringly obvious. Others are more cleverly hidden, and I loved figuring them out.

It's the late 70s. A group of friends banded together in the small township of Blyton Hills spend their vacation time solving petty crimes. There's Peter, leader of the group. Nate the creative. Andrea (call me Andy), the tomboy fighter. And lastly, there is Kerri, the researcher, with her dog Sean. Their adventures end well, til one fateful summer. They may have caught the masked man pretending to be a lake monster so he could find buried treasure, but the night they spent on Deboën Isle changed them. Shaped them in ways they could never imagine.

Fastforward to the 90s as these kids are now adults. They've drifted apart, each haunted in ways they can't describe. One is in a mental institution, one a wanderer, one stuck in dead-end jobs. One is dead. Suicide. Those remaining suffer from hallucinations, nightmares, and more, and it's all linked back to that one fateful night. In despair, yet feeling it the right move, Andrea collects Kerri and Nate so they can return to Blyton and conquer their demons. What they find is beyond all reckoning.

Cantero is a master storyweaver. I could feel the melancholy nostalgia when the group first saw Blyton with the jaded eyes of adulthood; saw the changes time had wrought. It pulled me under, drawing me deeper into the story. And I cannot rave enough about the clever use of dialogue tags. This medley of tags flowed easily, adding to the humour. Usually the use of such diverse dialogue tags comes across as clunky and clumsy. It takes true talent to make it work well. Add to that the smooth shifting of styles, from storytelling to play script and back again.

Seeded within, and supported, are themes of bisexuality, and notions of what love can truly be. I love that this is in here, it's part of the story, but it's not the main part. I never felt overwhelmed or bludgeoned by it. It's simply how these people were. Being the philosopher and metaphysicist that I am, I quite enjoyed the alchemy aspects, the notion of spirit and how it might function, and the Lovecraft influence.

📚📚📚📚📚 Highly Recommended. For all those out there who grew up with Scooby-Doo, Three Investigators, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. For those who enjoy HP Lovecraft and Stephen King. For those who appreciate parody of treasured memories, this book is for you. ( )
  PardaMustang | Aug 7, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edgar Canteroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garcia, KylaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It starts when you pull the lamp chain and light doesn't come.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385541996, Hardcover)

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all…and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Keri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Sean, an excitable Weimeraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.
     The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.
     With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids taps into our shared nostalgia for the books and cartoons we grew up with, and delivers an exuberant, eclectic, and highly entertaining celebration of horror, life, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:35:28 -0500)

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