Reviewed by Jowana Bueser
By Edgar Cantero
336 pp. Doubleday.
Nostalgia is a potent drug.
And like drugs, it is susceptible to abuse.
There is a nostalgia upsurge in present popular culture. Naturally, books are part of the ceaseless outpour. However, most of these books simply rely on pop culture references to conjure nostalgia. Meddling Kids, by author Edgar Cantero, is unlike most books. This hell-raising tribute to our childhood is astute enough to anchor its plot on an ingenious premise and lace its story with humor and horror.
Thirteen years after closing out their last case, the Sleepy Lake Monster, the remaining members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club decide to reunite and tie the loose ends of their past.
Cantero gleefully subverts the common tropes of our favorite childhood mystery fiction series. Instead of perfectly-coiffed girls like Nancy Drew, we have Andy and Kerri, a temperamental fugitive and a struggling bartender. Instead of clean-cut boys like Frank and Joe Hardy, we have Ned and Peter, an asylum patient and a bothersome ghost. Even Tim, the fearless canine, is the antithesis of Scooby Doo.
You remember how most mystery villains are nothing but criminals in masks? Well, this story includes one but not in the manner you expect.
One of the reasons we take pleasure in reading mystery novels as kids is predictability. The almost unassailable truth that our heroic sleuths will always crack the case open and assure us that the thing that goes bump in the night is nothing but a common crook. Meddling Kids destroys all notions of security in the most irreverent manner. The pro-tip is: assume nothing. There are no precocious detectives around to assuage our fears—just broken adults hanging onto their shattered dreams and fragmented lives. Essentially, it is a delightful metaphor for one of the most baffling mysteries ever: adulthood.
Hanging around with the Blyton Summer Detective Club battling personal and actual demons is the perfect nostalgia trip.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is available at select Fully Booked Stores and Fully Booked Online.
Jowana applied as a research assistant for Hogwarts but was rejected because her natural sarcasm is considered a form of dark arts. She has since harnessed her powers working as a social media manager for almost a decade. Books keep her calm from the madness and the sameness of life.
Jowana is a member of the First Look Club. You can find her on Twitter @jowana.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]