Horror-mystery-comedy novel, written by Edgar Cantero and published in 2017. This was Cantero's second English-language novel, after 2014's "The Supernatural Enhancements."
The plot focuses on the former members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club -- a mashup of characters from the Scooby-Doo cartoons and Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" novels. Back in 1977, they successfully unmasked the Sleepy Lake Monster, marking their final case together. But today, in the distant future of 1990, the kid detectives aren't kids anymore, and none of them are in good shape mentally.
Andrea -- or as she prefers to be called, Andy -- was the tough tomboy and is now a tough, military-trained warrior -- and a wanted criminal. Nate, the horror geek, is a patient in a mental hospital. Kerri, the gorgeous kid genius, is drinking her life away in New York. Peter, the handsome leader, hit it big as a movie star, but killed himself years ago -- though he lives on inside Nate's brain as either a ghost or a hallucination. And Tim, the descendant of the original dog sidekick of the club? Well, he's doing alright, really. He's a dog.
Andy suspects that the club never really solved their final case. She tracks down the crook who went to jail for the crime, and while he confesses to scaring people away from the old Deboen Mansion, he tells her he preferred years in prison to facing what was really in the mansion. So Andy sets out to reunite the surviving members of the club, taking them on a cross-country journey to picturesque Blyton Hills, Oregon, in the Zoinx River Valley. Can the club pull the rubber mask off the real villain? Or is the face under the disguise going to be much worse than they expected?
I loved Cantero's first book and was already predisposed to liking his second one -- especially one with a killer hook like "The Scooby-Doo Gang meets Cthulhu." And while, for me, the perfect Scooby story always ends with the gang capturing a completely mundane criminal, I still enjoyed the fully supernatural thrills in this book.
The characterization in this story is really outstanding. The lead characters are almost what you remember from Scooby-Doo and the Famous Five -- but just a bit off from what you were expecting. In particular, they've had over a decade to grow into adults, while still keeping enough of their childhood personalities to make them feel a bit familiar.
The action is absolutely fantastic -- way better than I was expecting. In the classic Scooby cartoons, the big action showpieces were always the chase scenes -- the whole gang fleeing from the Monster of the Week, upstairs, downstairs, in and out of doors, and eventually either giving the monster the slip or managing to capture him. Well, there's a wonderful chase scene right around the middle of the book -- a lengthy, absolutely heart-pounding chase that, in most novels, would be happening at the climax of the story. But in this book, they have over a hundred pages to go -- and to build up to action that's even more heart-pounding.
I have seen some disappointed reviews who expected this book to be more of a Lovecraftian horror novel, with a lot more gore, a lot more brain-melting, a lot more specific call-outs to HPL's monsters. The thing is, even with the action and monsters and the spooky mansion, this is still a character-based satire. In other words, if you come into this expecting it to be a grimdark gorefest, with Scooby and Shaggy getting their brains cored out by Cthulhu, you're going to be disappointed. If you go in expecting a light-hearted throwback to the juvenile mysteries of yesteryear, you'll be more likely to catch all the fun.