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Isolated in May by Dysart

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 May 2020

I suspect a little bit of editor/setter conniving here. We set these puzzles at least two years before they appear in the pages of The Times. Did the setter and/or editors know that I would be sitting here on my 51st day of isolation (in May) writing this blog? They are a clever set of people but not so clever, surely?

The preamble tells me that there is going to be some sort of crime depicted in the grid and as I scan the clues checking that Dysart retains his place with the oenophiles, I find a policeman, an initial blow and a crook. I don’t find a lot of alcohol but ‘Bill’s local I heard replaces can’s contents (4)’ Oh dear what a tough clue! Working backwards from CHE (a dialect form of I for Shakespeare – thus leaving a space in the 4-letter word) we decide that the E of ‘heard’ must be moved to the end of CAN, so that we are putting H into C?E in the place of AN. Maybe some ale in that CAN so cheers, Dysart!

These are challenging clues and we focus on the downs as they are going to give us that set of moved letters that will produce a source and an author and, with relief, we find SOMEONE LIKE YOU R DAHL. There are a couple of stories there that could be about a crime, but I remember how my students used to love ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ and clearly LAMB will fit into FREEZER on the left of our grid, so I suspect that we are in the story where MARY MALONEY downs the two-timing PATRICK with the leg of LAMB she has just removed from the FREEZER for his dinner, when he has told her that he is going to leave her (for another woman, we surmise). DOWN PATRICK, we are told, and the instruction that we will ultimately have 14 empty cells tells us where he will lie, keeping the K, for his feet.

Kidderminster is the only perimetrical solution we have. ‘Carpet seller stores fur, reduced on street (13)’ KIDDER around [e]RMIN[e] around ST, gives us yet another tough clue but we are told that we must ‘complete the top row to show a newly arrived group’. Now we can insert PATRICK MALONEY’s police colleagues into the top row (POLICEMEN) and, of course, remove that leg of LAMB and generously allow them to consume it – how could the grieving MARY MALONEY eat dinner? What superb irony that they consume the murder weapon that they so earnestly hunted for!

ALONE in MAY gives us MALONEY so all that is left for us to do is find a four-letter word where we can put MARY, retaining only real words (for all clued entries). This crossword was not easy but what fun. Many thanks, Dysart.




3 Responses to “Isolated in May by Dysart”

  1. Alan B said

    Once again, I’ll leave a comment, if I may, on one of these excellent blogs, just to relate my experience.
    I’ve largely forgotten this puzzle now, but one thing I remember vividly was the lucky break I had in getting the work and the author from the letters extracted from the down clues. Given just the K, the A and the H, I guessed DAHL, and I merely had to look up the work – he only title with K as the 10th letter. Without that break I would not have been able to solve all the clues, some of which I thought were unclear, and two of which were incomprehensible.
    What I cannot remember precisely is how I pinned down which short story was the story of interest. I think it was the name Patrick (from DOWNPATRICK) that helped me to identify Lamb to the Slaughter. I read a well-written plot summary online to understand the story.
    I didn’t understand a couple of the instructions in the preamble, but I can remember placing PATRICK where CABRANK was and moving the LAMB to the top.
    Having now seen the extent of the thematic and technical design, I am in awe. I appreciate it more now than I did while trying to solve the damn thing. What I admire the most is the fact that we are left with real words ‘at every stage’.

  2. Andy Mullins said

    Alan, if you liked this I recommend trying to get a copy of Doing a Sort from a couple of years ago.

  3. Alan B said

    Thanks for the tip.

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