Almost fifty years ago, teenage detectives, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their Great Dane, Scooby-Doo began taking on mystery cases involving ghosts, mummies, werewolves, or other monsters. The formula was simple. Their van breaks down near a haunted mine or amusement park and the gang volunteers to investigate. After splitting up to “cover more ground” and search for clues and getting chased around for a while, the team devises a trap to catch the bad guy. Inevitably, the monster turns out to be a dude in mask, whose plan to scare people away from his real estate development was just foiled by this group of meddling kids. And their dog.
The Scooby Gang taught Saturday-morning-cartoon-obsessed-kids that there’s a rational explanation for everything and reason triumphs over superstition. Monsters are not real.
But what if they are?
In Edgar Cantero’s new book Meddling Kids, Andrea, Peter, Kerri, Nate, and their weimaraner Sean spent their 1970s summer vacationing in Blyton Hills, going on adventures, and solving mysteries as the Blyton Summer Detective Club. Together, they made their adopted hometown a better place by foiling the plots of sheep smugglers and the like. It was a lot of fun too. But then The Case of the Sleepy Lake Monster scared the life out of the kids, signaling the end of the Detective Club and sending its members on a downward spiral of nightmares, aimlessness, drug and alcohol addiction, prison sentences, and suicide.
Thirteen years later, “Andy” now 26, re-opens their last case, bringing back together Kerri, Nate, Sean’s grandpuppy Tim, and the ghost of Peter to face their fears, retrace the clues, find out what really happened that night, and hopefully, get their lives back on track.
With loads of humor and pop culture references, Meddling Kids achieves a perfect tone, both celebrating and satirizing the nostalgia for childhood favorites. There are direct call outs to kid detective stories like Scooby Doo, The Hardy Boys, and The Famous Five alongside scarier references to the weird horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. But it is Edgar Cantero’s observations about coming of age difficulties, facing our fears, and accepting the reality of becoming an adult that make Meddling Kids special.