This time there’s a new Beelzebub puzzle on the site: it’s No. 300, from 5 November 1995. Such a coincidence of round number and significant date should not, however, lead you to expect fireworks – I was still very much engaged in finding my feet, and not really on the look-out for opportunities like this. (A shame, perhaps – perhaps 1300 early next year will make up for it…). Thanks as always to The Independent for permission to reprint, and look out for No. 1281 in the Independent on Sunday dated 21 September (still not, alas, available online).
Crosswords in fiction – a further sighting: I’ve just finished the ‘new’ Hercule Poirot mystery The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah. A while since I’ve read any echt Christie, but this struck me as somewhat more convoluted than the originals, although still relying on Poirot’s keen ear for what people actually say, rather than how their other hearers interpret it. The detective, Catchpool, turns out to be a frustrated crossword setter (at least, the context strongly hints at his constructing a diagram), and spends some time looking for a six-letter word to mean ‘death’ (which makes him sound more like a solver). ‘Murder, mon ami,’ says Poirot – but it turns out it has to start with a D (don’t all shout at once…). The fact that a late chapter of the book is entitled ‘If Murder began with a D’ tells you that even thius circumstance snakes its way into the plot. The book is worth a look – a good reflection on the canon, and I didn’t spot anything that jarred anachronistically.
Look out later this week for a blog on ‘How to Solve CAT’ from the Inquisitor series earlier this month.