2018-06-07 01:36:09 UTC
(Mild spoilers follow)
In summer 1977, in Blyton Hills somewhere in Oregon, a guy in a salamander suit terrorises the area surrounding an abandoned mansion on the shores of Sleepy Lake, in order to get peace and quiet to search for the treasure he believes is buried in the cellars...
...and he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!
The case of the Sleepy Lake Monster was solved by the Blyton Summer Detectives Club: Peter (the brave one, the leader), Andy (the tomboy), Kerri (the pretty, smart one), Nate (the geek) and Sean (the weimaraner).
Thirteen years later Andy confronts Salamander Suit Guy as he leaves prison and demands to know why he unnecessarily plead guilty to all charges; even the prosecution acknowledged he would easily have got the serious charge of kidnapping downgraded if he'd bothered to fight it. Under pressure SSG admits he wanted to hide away from the terrors of the mansion and a long prison term enabled that. "Iä fhtagn Thtaggoa", he adds helpfully.
Andy then teams up with Kerri and they go visit Nate, sequestered in <drumroll please> Arkham Asylum. As Peter is long dead, having died of an overdose of drugs and alcohol, the three remaining members of the BSDC (plus Tim the new weimaraner) journey back to Blyton Hills to establish what really happened next to Sleepy Lake all those years ago.
So far everything I've written is on the back cover or the first two few chapters. And if you're thinking this book is a Scooby Doo / Lovecraft crossover, you'd be right. Not just Scooby Doo, it's clearly a nod to Enid Blyton's Famous Five and support cast such as Nancy Hardy pay further homage.
What follows is an enjoyable romp as the now grown up detectives encounter trope after trope of both genres.
What, for me, made this book all the more enjoyable was Cantero's use of literary conceits. He frequently shifts POV, often in mid paragraph. He breaks the fourth wall. He shifts from novel to screenplay modes. He invents words that work perfectly in context. And his metaphors and similes are both accurate and oddball: 'Tim curled up in a corner of the backseat, sheltering his penguin from the storm, all tensed up in “scandalized Maggie Smith” pose.' But it all works.
I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.