There are, I believe, two kinds of people. One kind will hear the description of the book, Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero, as “Scooby Doo meets H. P. Lovecraft,” and say, “where is it? I want to read it immediately if not sooner!” and the other kind will roll eyes and say, “What kind of mind comes up with nonsense like this?” Since I’m the one who bought Meddling Kids for the Field Library’s shelves, you can guess which group I identify with (and you probably could have guessed that from reading this blog over the last couple of years). So, if you’re of the “what kind of mind comes up with nonsense like this?” group, feel free to skip this post and read something else instead.
For the rest of us, the very name of the book conjures up memories of the climax of nearly every Scooby Doo episodes in which the unmasked villain snarls, “I would have gotten away with it, too, except for those meddling kids!” Now, imagine if, just once, the mystery WASN’T the result of some jerk in a mask pretending to be a ghost or a monster or whatever the creature of the week was. Imagine what would have happened if there really was something supernatural going on.
Thirteen years after their last, ostensibly successful, mystery solution, the Blyton Summer Detective Club has dissolved and the members have gone their separate ways, although none of them has found life after the club to be what they expected. In some cases, life after their days of mystery solving has been an absolute disaster. Andy, the lesbian Latina who’s on the run from the law in two states, decides it’s time to get the gang back together and confront, finally, those haunting loose ends that nearly destroyed them when they spent that last night together in the haunted house thirteen years before. She finds Kerri, the brainiac of the group who’s now a bartender fending off amorous drunks and living with Tim, a Weimaraner descended from the original mascot of the group, and they find Nate, who’s checked himself into the Arkham Asylum years ago (the more astute will recognize another famous reference here), who claims to be in touch with the handsome jock of the group, Peter, who committed suicide years ago. It’s time for them to face their demons, maybe literally, and get past the horrors that nearly broke them back in the day.
This is not a book for everybody, obviously, but if you have a somewhat dark sense of humor and a soft spot in your heart for the teenage mystery solvers of the past (not just the Scooby Doo crew, either; keep your eyes open for references to other famous crime-solving teens) and a love for things weird and Lovecraftian, you’ll definitely want to check out Meddling Kids.