Listen With Others

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Detective Work by Ilver

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 March 2013

Hercule Poirot 001What was that about short preambles leading to difficult crosswords? We hunted for the preamble this week and didn’t find one at all. An omission? Oh dear! Then we noticed those rather unusual clues ‘Being “45” 1dn 4ac include 20dn letter (3)’, and a couple more that were clearly referring to other solutions (‘1ac first letters of 11 45 40s to produce theme (5)’, and ‘First letters of 22 7 45 40 tender instruction (5)’) and giving us some kind of hint.

There was nothing to do but start solving and, happily, some clues yielded their solution with ease and even offered us extra letters that we started to keep tabs of down that habitual coloured strip. ‘Tortuous  tours group (4)’ had to be an anagram (as well as producing a comical surface reading of some dreadful bus coach trip with a bunch of insufferable oldies) and we opted for SORT leaving us a U.

We were surprised to learn from Chambers that OTHER probably meant ‘Left’ for Edmond Spenser, so we had an extra N. We could make a guess that this was going to lead us to the UNCLUED … (as indeed it did – to that UNCLUED ENTRY that, even with its two double unches, suggested THE DOUBLE CLUE.)

That rang a bell, but we had a lot more solving to do before we were anywhere near that penny drop moment. We slowly shoogled out a message that UNCLUED ENTRY IS AN APPROPRIATE TITLE and solved clues telling us that ‘Being “45” 1dn 4ac include 20dn letter (3)’ translated to ‘BEING IMPERFECT, SOME WORDPLAYS INCLUDE EXTRA LETTER’. Well, that had jumped out at us right from the start.

What about the other two messages. This was turning out to be very clever and even mildly incestuous in all its cross-referencing. We worked out now that ‘First letters of 22 7 45 40 tender instruction’ gave us FIRST LETTERS OF EVERY IMPERFECT DOWN CLUE TENDER INSTRUCTION. The ‘imperfect down clues were clearly going to be the ones with those extra letters (we had been told that) and EUREKA! Those gave us ‘READ THE EXTRA LETTERS’ as well as spelling out EDICT as the solution of 18dn.

We were going in circles but still had ‘1ac first letters of 11 45 40s to produce theme (5)’ to suss and that told us SORT LETTERS OF OTHER IMPERFECT CLUES TO PRODUCE THEME (as well as producing the solution OCIPT, which anagrammed to TOPIC). So we had to sort the letters THEIR POOR CLUE. Time for the usual Numpty head-scratching moment – we had thought most of these clues were rather good, not ‘poor’.

Well, we had an appropriate title ‘The Double Clue’ and we knew that this was detective work, since the crossword’s title had told us so. Google time! Agatha Christie wrote that detective novel and, of course, we now saw which 7,6 had to go below the grid. HERCULE POIROT. Thank you Ilver, what an astonishingly complex and masterful creation.

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