Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Published by Random House Audio on July 11, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Horror
Length: 12 hrs 53 mins
Format: Audiobook
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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!

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. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she's got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner 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.

Meddling Kids was my “scary” read for October and I have to say I loved it. In full disclosure, we are huge fans of Scooby-Doo; we own all the original episodes on DVD and some of the newer ones; we read tons of the paperback kids books when Amber was younger. Also, Amber and I have read a fair amount of Lovecraft and we play at least two Lovecraft themed board games occasionally; she even did a report in school on him. So, I feel like I am this book’s target audience. I have not read any of Edith Blyton’s Famous Five stories, but I feel like I should. This book is fabulous on its own, but it’s also a kind of tribute and it knows it, if that makes sense. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, it’s fan fic, but the best kind.

You can read the blurb. The Blyton Summer Detective Club “solved” their last mystery back in 1977, but the things didn’t get explained still haunt them. The three still living members, Nate, Kerri, and Andy, and their dog, Tim, a descendant of their companion in the ’70s, head back to Blyton Hills to finally confront the real monsters. Well, the 5th member of the gang, Pete, gets included too, as Nate’s hallucination, which was a pretty smooth way of showing how devastating that final case was and allowing the whole gang to still be together.

I listened to this on audio which worked really well. I loved the writing style. I enjoyed the switches from typical novel style to almost a screenplay format, complete with stage directions. I’m not sure how that worked in the print version, but on audio it made me smile. Cantero has a habit of making up words, like “tragichuckled” and “howlretched.” I love that kind of thing, but I also have a tendency to make up words, just ask my daughter, so I may be a bit biased. I also loved his use of anthropomorphism for everything from gardens to pencils to hair. Okay, the hair bit was overdone – yes Kerri has awesome hair, can we move on? I think though that some of the things I loved may be the same things other people hate.

The monsters were creepy and the fight scenes were good, although not my favorite parts. The scene about the elder thing creature was a bit of a let down though. There was a real flesh and blood villain, but ages away from the guy in the mask.

It’s dark and funny and I loved it. On the one hand, I’m hoping there’s a sequel; the ending did leave it open for one.  On the other, would a second just repeat the same tricks and feel tired?

About Edgar Cantero

Edgar Cantero (born May 27, 1981) is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona, Spain. Once a promising author in the local scene with his awarded 2007 debut Dormir amb Winona Ryder, the highbrow Catalan literary tradition soon lost influence on him in favor of Hollywood blockbusters, videogames and mass-market paperbacks. The punk dystopian thriller Vallvi (2011) was his last book in Catalan before switching to English with The Supernatural Enhancements (2014). His material, ranging from short stories to screenplays, often features women kissing, stuff exploding, and ill-timed jokes.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett

Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett
Narrator: Paul Boehmer
Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2
Published by Random House Audio on April 26, 2005
Genres: Mystery
Length: 11 hrs 26 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep of the Royal Thai Police returns in his riveting and smokily atmospheric new thriller.A farang–a foreigner–has been murdered, his body horribly mutilated, at the Bangkok brothel co-owned by Sonchai’s mother and his boss. The dead man was a CIA agent. To make matters worse, the apparent culprit is sweet-natured Chanya, the brothel’s top earner and a woman whom the devoutly Buddhist sleuth has loved for several lifetimes. How can Sonchai solve this crime without sending Chanya to prison? How can he engage in a cover-up without endangering his karma? And how will he ever get to the bottom of a case whose interested parties include American spooks, Muslim fundamentalists, and gangsters from three countries?

I did not like Bangkok Tattoo as much as the first in the series, Bangkok 8. Sonchai is the same- a loner Buddhist cop who tends toward philosophical ruminations, but now he’s also part owner of a brothel, along with his boss and his mom. The atmosphere’s the same- the seedy side of an exotic city, but we do have the addition of Muslims and the mob. And Sonchai has a new partner, a transgender young man who wants to be a dancer of some kind.

The plot was interesting, if a bit meandering. The killed man was CIA, and of course the case is not as clear-cut as it might first appear. There’s also drugs involved. To be honest, I finished listening to this a week or so ago and don’t remember how exactly the drugs and the serial killer tied together. I think they were two separate plot lines pulled together by the corrupt superior and the good-hearted prostitute. What I do remember is one scene toward the end that was downright gruesome.

Most of this book centers around the sex trade in Bangkok. Burdett shows it as empowering for women, giving them money and freedom that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I have to assume it’s not that rosy. It also dwells on the lives and gay men and other sexual orientations.

I listened to the audio version and the narrator did a good job. He catches Sonchai’s attitudes well, when he is lecturing, when he is amused, and when he’s introspective. He differentiates the other characters well and as always I appreciate hearing the foreign names and places, rather than stumbling over them in print.

I’ll probably continue with the series, but only because I can pick them up from the library.

About John Burdett

John Burdett practiced law for 14 years in London and Hong Kong until he was able to retire to write full time. He has lived in France, Spain, Hong Kong and the U.K. and now commutes between Bangkok and Southwest France.

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett Bangkok 8 by John Burdett
Narrator: B. D. Wong
Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1
Published by Random House Audio on June 3, 2003
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 12 hrs 17 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Electrifying, darkly comic, razor-edged—a thriller unlike any other.
Under a Bangkok bridge, inside a bolted-shut Mercedes: a murder by snake—a charismatic African American Marine sergeant killed by a methamphetamine-stoked python and a swarm of stoned cobras.

Two cops—the only two in the city not on the take—arrive too late. Minutes later, only one is alive: Sonchai Jitpleecheep—a devout Buddhist, equally versed in the sacred and the profane—son of a long-gone Vietnam War G.I. and a Thai bar girl whose subsequent international clientele contributed richly to Sonchai’s sophistication.

Now, his partner dead, Sonchai is doubly compelled to find the murderer, to maneuver through the world he knows all to well—illicit drugs, prostitution, infinite corruption—and into a realm he has never before encountered: the moneyed underbelly of the city, where desire rules and the human body is no less custom-designable than a raw hunk of jade. And where Sonchai tracks the killer—and a predator of an even more sinister variety.

Bangkok 8 has been on my to-read list for a while, and I finally got around to picking up the audio from the library. Let’s be honest, it was an obvious choice for me. It’s a mystery in an exotic locale and the detective has a philosophical streak.

The murder itself was unique – the snakes in a locked car- and although it’s a shame that Sonchai’s partner was killed too, it was the only reason the crime was actually investigated thoroughly. The cops in Bangkok are mostly corrupt and add in that the US government would really rather at least one of the suspects not be looked at too closely, they likely would have let it drop. Sonchai can’t though and his search for the truth leads us across the city and has us meet drug dealers, prostitutes, and business owners from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of vices and interests.

Sonchai is a complicated man. He’s the son of a prostitute and American soldier, but he’s traveled the world, is fluent in multiple languages, including English, loves quality clothing and perfumes. He spouts Buddhist philosophy and can be encouraged to dance on-stage. He’s not my favorite of detectives, but I do love his contradictions.

I got caught up in the book. The culture and religion, the characters, the justifications of prostitution and for cops taking bribes – it’s a different world than I live in. I don’t know how well it actually represents the Thai people or Buddhism, but I was engrossed. Even the ending worked. People have so many sides, good and bad, but they are more who they are than in lots of European/American settings. They are more open and are allowed to be both pimps and lovers of literature, cop and part-owner of a brothel. Secrets are more open, and even the ones that people try to keep hidden have been caught on video.

I’m looking forward to listening to the next in the series. I liked listening to the audio; it always works well for me when in print I would stumble over the names of places and people, or just glance over them.

About John Burdett

John Burdett practiced law for 14 years in London and Hong Kong until he was able to retire to write full time. He has lived in France, Spain, Hong Kong and the U.K. and now commutes between Bangkok and Southwest France.

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