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If Not for Those "Meddling Kids"

Everyone at one time or another has heard the famous line, "I would've gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids." There's not a Scooby-Doo cartoon out there where that line isn't spoken. And behind every monster is an old man with a rubber mask. It is the hallmark of teen archetypes such as Nancy Drew, Scoody-Doo, and Enid Blyton's Famous Five series. Now, Edgar Cantero tackles teenage detectives in his new novel, Meddling Kids.

In the summer of 1977, the Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their final mystery by exposing the Sleepy Lake monster to be nothing more than Old Man Wickley in a mask. Fast forward thirteen years later, the four kids are now broken twenty somethings, and have gone their separate ways. But they find themselves still haunted by disturbing memories of encounters and events during their last case that can't be explained away by a man in a mask. With one of the four dead from an apparent suicide, the remaining three, and their dog, return to Blyton Hills to reopen their final case. It's their final chance to put an end to their nightmares, and perhaps, save the world.

Meddling Kids is a fun mashup of horror, humor, and detective fiction. Cantero weaves a witty, energetic tale around three kids, a dog, and a hallucination that keeps the reader turning the page. From the name of the town, Blyton Hills (a nod toward Enid Blyton who wrote the Famous Five book series) to the Zionx River (an obvious reference to Scooby -Doo), the book is rampant with references to Scooby-Doo, the Famous Five, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and H.P. Lovecraft.

Meddling Kids is a fast-paced read with a great deal of humor helping to support the plot during moments where the action slows down. It was an overall enjoyable read. If there was one thing that I would complain about, I sometimes found Cantero's unique writing style to throw me off occasionally throughout the book. He has an unusual way of often breaking the fourth-wall with the narration, as well as adding quirky stage direction similar to what one might find in a stage script. I found this eccentric style of writing to be a distraction from the overall story.

If you can overlook the unusual writing style, Meddling Kids is a fun book to read. Searching for the all the references to teenage detective of old alone make this book worth the effort.

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