Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1401

Or should I now start calling these Times Jumbo Max Ernst Crosswords? Hey, why not? He appears nearly every week in these puzzles. It’s like he’s got a sodding residency.


Max Ernst aside, this wasn’t too bad a puzzle, all told, though the setter didn’t half like using people’s names. And islands. (Shrugs shoulders.) You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As ever, a spot of housekeeping before I let you go. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Max Ernst Crossword that’s showing a few gaps then try seeing if ERNST fits in any of them. You never know! If that fails, then you might find my Just For Fun page a useful resource. If book reviews tickle your fancy, have a wander over to my Reviews page. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 10 up shortly. Well, shortly-ish. Ehhhh, give it a while.

Right, that’s enough blatheration for now. Onto the answers. Till next time, TTFN.


Across clues

1. Snow vehicle made by fellow with a lot of skill (9)

Answer: BOBSLEIGH (i.e. “snow vehicle”). Solution is BOB (i.e. “fellow”, as in a man’s name) followed by SLEIGHT (i.e. “skill”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “a lot of”, as in “most of”), like so: BOB-SLEIGH.

6. Garden plot you and I returned to sprinkle with water (5)

Answer: BEDEW (i.e. “to sprinkle with water”). Solution is BED (i.e. “garden plot”) followed by WE (i.e. “you and I”) reversed (indicated by “returned”), like so: BED-EW.

9. Bully tried, we hear, to be an animal minder (7)

Answer: COWHERD (i.e. “animal minder”). Solution is COW (i.e. “[to] bully”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of HEARD (i.e. “tried”, as in a court case), like so: COW-HERD.

13. Language used by girl in Gothenburg (5)

Answer: LINGO (i.e. “language”). “Used by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: GIR(L IN GO)THENBURG. A bit weak, in my less-than-humble opinion.

14. Masterminds terrible crimes ultimately looked into by court (7)

Answer: DIRECTS (i.e. “masterminds”). Solution is DIRE (i.e. “terrible”) and S (i.e. “crimes ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “crimes”), “into” which is placed CT (a recognised abbreviation of “court”), like so: DIRE-(CT)-S.

15. Soldiers protected by a welcome treaty (9)

Answer: AGREEMENT (i.e. “treaty”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “soldiers”) placed in or “protected by” A and GREET (i.e. “welcome”), like so: A-GREE(MEN)T.

16. Not working in music drama, Victor invested in formal wear (11)

Answer: INOPERATIVE (i.e. “not working”). Solution is IN, followed by OPERA (i.e. “music drama”) and TIE (i.e. “formal wear”) once it has been wrapped around or has “invested” V (“Victor” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: IN-OPERA-TI(V)E.

17. New gal on deck we indicate recognition of (11)

Answer: ACKNOWLEDGE (i.e. “indicate recognition of”). “New” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GAL ON DECK WE.

18. Fairly easy on the eye (6)

Answer: PRETTY. Solution satisfies “fairly” and “easy on the eye”.

19. Crazy about novelties at first, like some religious paintings (8)

Answer: MADONNAS (i.e. “religious paintings”). Solution is MAD (i.e. “crazy”) followed by ON (i.e. “about”), then N (i.e. “novelties at first”, i.e. the first letter of “novelties”) and finally AS (i.e. “like”).

21. What may carry wine from a service in church (6)

Answer: CARAFE (i.e. “what may carry wine”). Solution is A and RAF (i.e. “service”, specifically the Royal Air Force) placed “in” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: C(A-RAF)E. A clue that scans rather well.

25. Positions on network set up by spinners? (8)

Answer: WEBSITES (i.e. “positions on network”). Clue riffs on how spiders are “spinners” of webs. You get the idea.

26. Capital speech revised finally by this US general? (7,7)

Answer: ESTUARY ENGLISH (i.e. “capital speech”, as in wot awl em Cockerneys bubble, innit?). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “revised”) of Y (i.e. “finally by”, i.e. the last letter of “by”) and THIS US GENERAL.

28. Host’s decoration for gallantry mentioned in speech (5)

Answer: EMCEE (i.e. “host”, as in a master of ceremonies). “In speech” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of MC, or Military Cross (i.e. “decoration for gallantry”).

29. Sweltering temperature not initially disagreeable (6)

Answer: TORRID (i.e. “sweltering”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) followed by HORRID (i.e. “disagreeable”) once its first letter has been removed (indicated by “not initially”), like so: T-ORRID.

30. From which we may observe vehicle pulling timepiece behind? (10)

Answer: WATCHTOWER (i.e. “from which we may observe”). Solution also satisfies “vehicle pulling timepiece behind”, as in a WATCH TOWER (as in towing something behind you).

33. Fantastic hour we secured in model generating plant (10)

Answer: POWERHOUSE (i.e. “generating plant”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “fantastic”) of HOUR WE placed or “secured in” POSE (i.e. “[to] model”), like so: PO(WERHOU)SE.

35. Blokes in US city originally translating funeral song (6)

Answer: LAMENT (i.e. “funeral song”). Solution is LA MEN (i.e. “blokes in US city”) followed by T (i.e. “originally translating”, i.e. the first letter of “translating”).

36. Scent ultimately left by wading bird (5)

Answer: TRAIL (i.e. “scent”, e.g. a trail of clues). Solution is T (i.e. “ultimately left”, i.e. the last letter of “left”) followed by RAIL (i.e. “wading bird”).

38. Sick of rude Brit, find illicit pleasure (9,5)

Answer: FORBIDDEN FRUIT (i.e. “illicit pleasure”). “Sick” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OF RUDE BRIT FIND.

40. Local woman keeping a fabric for making coats (8)

Answer: BARATHEA (i.e. “fabric for making coats” – no, me neither. Chalk one to my Bradfords, here.) Solution is BAR (i.e. “local”, as in a hostelry) and THEA (i.e. “woman”) wrapped around or “keeping” A, like so: BAR-(A)-THEA.

42. Set free, once a ship has fuel (6)

Answer: ASSOIL (i.e. “set free”). Solution is A SS (i.e. “once a ship” – SS is a recognised abbreviation of a steamship) followed by OIL (i.e. “fuel”). A new word on me. I’d have guessed an entirely different meaning for it!

43. Old adversary giving up work as interpretive artist (8)

Answer: EXPONENT (i.e. “interpretive artist”, among other definitions). Solution is EX OPPONENT (i.e. “old adversary”) with the OP removed (indicated by “giving up work” – op being a recognised abbreviation of “operation” or, more likely, and as a previous commenter kindly highlighted, “opus”), like so: EX-PONENT.

44. Girl oddly eager to enter baccalaureate, say (6)

Answer: DEGREE (i.e. “baccalaureate, say”). Solution is DEE (i.e. name of a “girl”) wrapped around or allowing “to enter” EGR (i.e. “oddly eager”, as in the odd letters of EAGER), like so: D(EGR)EE.

47. Expensive-sounding Society speech-maker’s peaked cap (11)

Answer: DEERSTALKER (i.e. “peaked cap”). Solution is DEER (i.e. “expensive-sounding”, i.e. a homophone of DEAR) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “Society”) and TALKER (i.e. “speech-maker”), like so: DEER-S-TALKER.

50. Objets-d’art I see in choir trips (11)

Answer: CHINOISERIE – over to my Chambers here: “(a decorative or fine art object) in a style of design or decoration that uses or copies Chinese motifs or methods”. Fair enough. Anyway, “objets d’art”. “Trips” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I SEE IN CHOIR. The wordplay was obvious, but I had to brute-force the solution once I’d had enough intersecting letters.

52. Genuineness, as it is revealed in certain lines (9)

Answer: SINCERITY (i.e. “genuineness”). This took some figuring, but the solution is SINCE (i.e. “as”) followed by IT once it has been placed or “revealed in” RY (i.e. “certain lines”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: SINCE-R(IT)Y.

53. European heading off W African or Russian, perhaps (7)

Answer: IBERIAN (i.e. “European”). The clue plays on how you can derive the solution by taking the “heading off” LIBERIAN (i.e. “W African”) or SIBERIAN (i.e. “Russian, perhaps”).

54. Split with first of boyfriends in Gt London borough (5)

Answer: BRENT (i.e. “Gt London borough”). Solution is RENT (i.e. “split”) preceded by B (i.e. “first of boyfriends”, i.e. the first letter of “boyfriends”), like so: B-RENT.

55. Mechanic having rest over in Irish islands (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “mechanic”). Solution is SIT (i.e. “rest”) reversed (indicated by “over”) and placed “in” ARAN (i.e. “Irish islands”), like so: AR(TIS)AN. This was an easier get than it ought to have been thanks largely to the solution appearing only a couple of weeks ago. And a couple of months before that.

56. Prestige finally attained by university in Aegean island (5)

Answer: KUDOS (i.e. “prestige”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and D (i.e. “finally attained”, i.e. the last letter of “attained”) both placed “in” KOS (i.e. “Aegean island”), like so: K(U-D)OS.

57. Resident in Bow primarily employed in role of carer (4,5)

Answer: EAST ENDER (i.e. “resident in Bow”, referring to them Londoners again, innit?) Solution is E (i.e. “primarily employed”, i.e. the first letter of “employed”) followed as AS TENDER (i.e. “in role of carer”).

Down clues

1. Spicy dish served by restaurant finally in Indonesian island (5)

Answer: BALTI (i.e. “spicy dish”). Solution is T (i.e. “restaurant finally”, i.e. the last letter of “restaurant”) placed “in” BALI (i.e. “Indonesian island”), like so: BAL(T)I.

2. Try one’s hardest, having man support proteges around town (4,4,9)

Answer: BEND OVER BACKWARDS (i.e. “try one’s hardest”). Solution is BEN (i.e. “man”, as in man’s name), BACK (i.e. “support”) and WARDS (i.e. “proteges”) placed “around” DOVER (i.e. “town”), like so: BEN-(DOVER)-BACK-WARDS.

3. Waterside plant, most unrestrained, widely encountered (11)

Answer: LOOSESTRIFE (i.e. “waterside plant”). Solution is LOOSEST (i.e. “most unrestrained”) followed by RIFE (i.e. “widely encountered”). One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

4. Single chap touring North Dakota, one from Mumbai, perhaps (6)

Answer: INDIAN (i.e. “one from Mumbai, perhaps”). Solution is I (i.e. “single”) and IAN (i.e. “chap”, as in a man’s name) wrapped around or “touring” ND (i.e. “North Dakota”), like so: I-(ND)-IAN.

5. Scold desperate man ousting Rex’s son? (8)

Answer: HARRIDAN (i.e. “scold”, as in “a scold” rather than to scold). This was another one that took some figuring, but the solution is “Rex” HARRISON – Doctor Doolittle, people! – with the SON removed or “ousted”, and replaced with DAN (i.e. “desperate man”, as in Desperate Dan of The Dandy).

6. Composer’s joint function held after turning up for 44 (12)

Answer: BACHELORSHIP (i.e. “degree”, which is the solution for “44” across). Solution is BACH’S HIP (i.e. “composer’s joint”), which is wrapped around or “holding” ROLE (i.e. “function”) once it’s been reversed (indicated by “after turning up”), like so: BACH(ELOR)’S-HIP.

7. Superior female attorney protecting son almost entirely (10)

Answer: DISDAINFUL (i.e. “superior”, as in being above it all). Solution is DI (i.e. “female”, as in a woman’s name) and DA (i.e. “attorney”, as in a District Attorney) wrapped around or “protecting” S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”), and then followed by IN FULL (i.e. “entirely”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”), like so: DI-(S)-DA-IN-FUL.

8. Share wallop (5)

Answer: WHACK. Solution satisfies “share” – the full whack, for example, being the whole thing – and “wallop”.

9. Scroll-like ornament needing attention outside area in Rugby (9)

Answer: CARTOUCHE (i.e. “scroll-like ornament”). Solution is CARE (i.e. “attention”) placed “outside” of TOUCH (i.e. “area in rugby”, as in the game – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: CAR(TOUCH)E.

10. His products may be employed in revolutionary activity (11)

Answer: WHEELWRIGHT. Clue riffs on how “revolutionary” relates to the action of a wheel, the “product” of a wheelwright. You get the idea.

11. Some of them endeavour to improve (5)

Answer: EMEND (i.e. “to improve”). “Some of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: TH(EM END)EAVOUR.

12. Vacillate, disheartening a digger of trenches (6)

Answer: DITHER (i.e. “vacillate”). Solution is DITCHER (i.e. “a digger of trenches”) with its middle letter removed (indicated by “disheartening”).

18. Authority framing key advert for cosmetic applicator (6,4)

Answer: POWDER PUFF (i.e. “cosmetic applicator”). Solution is POWER (i.e. “authority”) wrapped around or “framing” D (i.e. “[musical] key”), and then followed by PUFF (i.e. “advert”, e.g. a puff piece, puffery, that kind of thing), like so: POW(D)ER-PUFF.

20. One who is barely recognisable running in a public place (8)

Answer: STREAKER. Clue riffs on how “barely” means nakedly, and how streakers are often “running in a public place”. You get the idea. This was the last clue I got, after 19a, and I have to admit it made me smile.

22. Infer warder is involved with a thief, an unreliable acquaintance (4-7,6)

Answer: FAIR-WEATHER FRIEND (i.e. “unreliable acquaintance”). “Involved” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INFER WARDER and A THIEF.

23. Chap in Albert Square who audibly identifies a species of penguin? (6)

Answer: GENTOO (i.e. “species of penguin” – no, me neither. Chalk another one to my Bradfords.) Solution is GENT (i.e. “chap”) followed by OO (i.e. “[chap] in Albert Square who audibly identifies” – okay, work with me here. This riffs on how Londoners are buggers for dropping their aitches, so to hear one say “who” – indicated by “audibly” – one would hear OO), like so: GENT-OO. A convoluted clue for a solution that was made to fit, madam? Why, we have just the thing…

24. Break for sailors and soldiers on meadow in southern resort (5,5)

Answer: SHORE LEAVE (i.e. “break for sailors”). I’m not getting much of a hook on this one, so watch out. “Soldiers” could be OR, as in the Other Ranks of the British Army, and LEA could be “meadow”, and I guess S could be a recognised abbreviation of “southern”, but I can’t quite decode the rest, or stitch them together in any meaningful way.
[EDIT: Thanks to Verity and Mick in the comments for highlighting HOVE as a resort and RE as being soldiers. The solution is therefore S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) and HOVE (i.e. “resort”) wrapped around RE (i.e. “soldiers”, specifically the Royal Engineers) and LEA (i.e. “meadow”), like so: S-HO(RE-LEA)VE. – LP]

27. Spirit of quiet home this writer had abandoned (8)

Answer: PRESENCE (i.e. “spirit”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo) followed by RESIDENCE (i.e. “home”) once I’D has been removed (indicated by “this writer had abandoned” – from the point of view of the setter, “the writer had” would be “I had”, contracted to I’d), like so: P-RESENCE.

31. Doze setting up solider, possibly, in beret (6)

Answer: CATNAP (i.e. “doze”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “soldier”) reversed (indicated by “setting up”) and placed “in” CAP (i.e. “beret”), like so: CA(TNA)P.

32. Undergarment, one thieves reportedly deposited at bottom of river (12)

Answer: CAMIKNICKERS (i.e. “undergarment”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and KNICKERS (i.e. “thieves reportedly”, i.e. a homophone of NICKERS), placed below or “at bottom of” CAM (i.e. a “river” running through Cambridge) – this being a down clue – like so: CAM-I-KNICKERS.

34. State of decay our sinuses suffer around November (11)

Answer: RUINOUSNESS (i.e. “state of decay”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “suffer”) of OUR SINUSES which is wrapped “around” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: RUI(N)OUSNESS.

36. List including partygoers that can be passed over (11)

Answer: TRAVERSABLE (i.e. “that can be passed over”). Solution is TABLE (i.e. “list”) “including” RAVERS (i.e. “partygoers”), like so: T(RAVERS)ABLE.

37. Having possessions, appeared at last with appropriate connection (10)

Answer: PROPERTIED (i.e. “having possessions”). Solution is D (i.e. “appeared at last”, i.e. the last letter of “appeared”) preceded by PROPER (i.e. “appropriate”) and TIE (i.e. “connection”), like so: PROPER-TIE-D.

39. Dog frantically tailed a man dumping drug (9)

Answer: DALMATIAN (i.e. “dog”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frantically”) of TAILED A MAN once the E has been removed (indicated by “dumping drug” – E being a recognised abbreviation of ecstasy).

41. Popular female in east holds it to be eternal (8)

Answer: INFINITE (i.e. “eternal”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), then IN and E (ditto “east”) which together “hold” IT, like so: IN-F-IN-(IT)-E.

45. Poems by Tasso regularly turning up in Ukrainian port (6)

Answer: ODESSA (i.e. “Ukrainian port” – one I knew, which is a rarity!). Solution is ODES (i.e. “poems”) followed “by” AS (i.e. “Tasso regularly”, i.e. every other letter of TASSO), which is reversed (indicated by “turning up”, this being a down clue) like so: ODES-SA.

46. Aims to get tips? (6)

Answer: POINTS. Solution satisfies “aims” – as in to point at something – and “tips”.

48. He painted birds of prey, wasting energy and time (5)

Answer: Max ERNST (i.e. “he painted”). I know I bitched about this in the intro, but bloody hell I’m getting sick of seeing this guy. Is there some kind of pact between the setters? Or is this a “last setter to work ERNST into their puzzles is a sissy” kind of thing? Ugh. Anyway, ERNST has been derived this time from PERNS (i.e. “birds of prey” – did a Google Image search – you’re not missing much) with the P removed (indicated by “wasting energy” – P being a recognised abbreviation of “power”) and the remainder followed by T (ditto “time”), like so: ERNS-T. Join me next week as I unpick how another setter manages to crowbar ERNST into their grid! I bet you can’t wait.
[EDIT: Thanks to Verity in the comments who offers a cleaner approach. An ERNE is a sea eagle. E is a recognised abbreviation of “energy”, so drop the second E from ERNES, then add T for “time”. – LP]

49. Inuit canoe seen going up and down (5)

Answer: KAYAK (i.e. “Inuit canoe”). “Seen going up and down” indicates the solution is a palindrome.

51. Go into hospital department, about to get rise (5)

Answer: ENTER (i.e. “go into”). Solution is ENT (i.e. “hospital department”, specifically Ear Nose and Throat) followed by RE (i.e. concerning or “about” – think email replies) once it has been reversed (indicated by “to get rise”, this being a down clue), like so: ENT-ER.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1400

A relatively simple affair this week, albeit one with a few weak or niggly clues. [EDIT: a few were cleverer than I first thought. Fair play to the setter. – LP] You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

Before we get into the meat of it, some housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword that’s left you jiggered, then you might find succour in my Just For Fun page. If book reviews are your thing, then my Reviews page might also interest.

And so to the solution! See you next time, all being well.


Across clues

1. Clinging drunk associated with southern family (4-5)

Answer: SKIN-TIGHT (i.e. “clinging”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and TIGHT (i.e. “drunk”).

6. Structure made with cunning technique (7)

Answer: ARCHWAY (i.e. “structure”). Solution is ARCH (i.e. “cunning”) followed by WAY (i.e. style or “technique”).

10. Move slowly, having stomach and large behind (5)

Answer: CRAWL (i.e. “move slowly”). Solution is CRAW (the “stomach” of animals generally, as my Chambers has it) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

13. Believe lover creates restriction on finances (6,7)

Answer: CREDIT SQUEEZE (i.e. “restriction on finances”). Solution is CREDIT (i.e. “believe”) followed by SQUEEZE (i.e. “lover”).

14. Diplomacy round breaks ice after time in game Yanks play (3,3,3)

Answer: TIC TAC TOE, what our American cousins would call a game of Noughts and Crosses (i.e. “game Yanks play”). Solution is TACT (i.e. “diplomacy”) and O (i.e. “round”) placed in or “breaking” ICE. The whole is then preceded by or placed “after” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: T-IC(TACT-O)E.

15. Soft cheese where little kipper could be devoured by girl (7)

Answer: RICOTTA (i.e. “soft cheese” – chalk one to my Bradford’s here as I’m not big on different types of cheeses). Solution is COT (i.e. “where little kipper could be”, as in a baby sleeping) placed in or “devoured by” RITA (i.e. “girl”), like so: RI(COT)TA.

16. Corpse found in vehicle crossing channel (7)

Answer: CADAVER (i.e. “corpse”). Solution is CAR (i.e. “vehicle”) wrapped around or “crossing” DAVE (i.e. “[UK TV] channel”), like so: CA(DAVE)R. This clue is a little too native for my liking. Then again, I could be being a touch hypercritical. Maybe Dave is broadcast across the world, and I’m not aware of it. Maybe Dave is helping to unite warring nations through repeats of Top Gear and Only Fools and Horses. Hmm, maybe. Also, if Dave goes through another rebranding in the next couple of years, this clue will be meaningless when it’s eventually republished in The Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword Book 22. Speaking of which, if you are reading this in the year 2023 or beyond, hello! I hope the inevitable zombie apocalypse wasn’t too bad for you.

17. Something sweet rascal occasionally placed in box? (7)

Answer: TREACLE (i.e. “something sweet”). Solution is ACL (i.e. “rascal occasionally”, i.e. the alternate letters of RASCAL) “placed in” TREE (i.e. “box” – one of its many definitions is a shrub or small tree), like so: TRE(ACL)E.

18. Separate from partner in the underworld? (12)

Answer: DISASSOCIATE (i.e. “separate”). Solution also satisfies “partner in the underworld” as in a DIS ASSOCIATE – Dis is “another name for the god Pluto, and hence the infernal world” (Chambers).

20. Where certain marathon runners are, no matter what? (2,3,5)

Answer: IN ANY EVENT (i.e. “no matter what”). I’m guessing the solution also satisfies “where certain marathon runners are” – a marathon being an athletic event – but this seems very weak. I could be missing something here.
[EDIT: Having slept on this, I can see the clue was cleverer than I first thought. The solution can also be read as IN A NY EVENT, referring to the New York Marathon. – LP]

23. Better to avoid extremes – gentle stroll results (5)

Answer: AMBLE (i.e. “gentle stroll”). Solution is GAMBLER (i.e. “better”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “to avoid extremes”).

24. Broadside showing America badly in decline (9)

Answer: FUSILLADE (i.e. “broadside”). Solution is US (i.e. “America”) and ILL (i.e. “badly”) placed “in” FADE (i.e. “decline”), like so: F(US-ILL)ADE.

25. Oxfordshire town worker splits pay (7)

Answer: WANTAGE (i.e. “Oxford town”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “worker”) placed in or “splitting” WAGE (i.e. “pay”), like so: W(ANT)AGE. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

26. Eight fooled cast in sitcom (3,4,4)

Answer: THE GOOD LIFE (i.e. “[UK] sitcom”). “Cast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EIGHT FOOLED.

28. Footballer once slim was willing (7,4)

Answer: OUTSIDE LEFT (i.e. “footballer (once?)”). Solution is OUTSIDE (i.e. “slim”, as in an outside chance) followed by LEFT (i.e. “was willing”, as in having left something in one’s will).

30. Kinswoman of marvellous masculine variant (11)

Answer: GRANDMOTHER (i.e. “kinswoman”). Solution is GRAND (i.e. “marvellous”) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “masculine”) and OTHER (i.e. “variant”).

32. We stop to eat exotic vegetable (5,6)

Answer: SWEET POTATO (i.e. “vegetable”). “Exotic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WE STOP TO EAT.

34. Old canine bizarrely beginning to talk (7)

Answer: ANCIENT (i.e. “old”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bizarrely”) of CANINE followed by T (i.e. “beginning to talk”, i.e. the first letter of “talk”), like so: ANCIEN-T.

36. Bones find peace at last in green hillside (9)

Answer: VERTEBRAE (i.e. “bones”). Solution is E (i.e. “peace at last”, i.e. the last letter of “peace”) placed between or “in” VERT (i.e. “green” – back to my Chambers again: “in forest law, all greenery in a forest that may serve as cover for deer”. Alternatively “vert” is green in French, though there’s no French indicator in the clue) and BRAE (a Scots word for a sloping bank or “hillside”), like so: VERT-(E)-BRAE. A clue that scans rather well, all told.

38. One must put out second fire in room (5)

Answer: INGLE, a Scots word for a hearth or fireside (i.e. “fire in room”). Solution is SINGLE (i.e. “one”) with the S removed (indicated by “must put out second” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “second”). I remembered this from a relatively recent grid, if I’m honest.

39. Global section of border company providing connections present (10)

Answer: HEMISPHERE (i.e. “global section”). Solution is HEM (i.e. “border”) followed by ISP (i.e. “company providing connections”, i.e. an Internet Service Provider) and HERE (i.e. “present”).

41. Appropriate recognition informally given in Garbo’s career? (7,5)

Answer: ACADEMY AWARD. Another clue where I could be missing something clever, but this seems to riff on how Greta Garbo, famed actress of 1920s and 1930’s cinema, received an honorary Academy Award, having missed out on a Best Actress gong on three previous occasions.
[EDIT: A big thank you to MNM in the comments, who highlights that “given” indicates “Oscar” is hidden in GARB(O’S CAR)EER, an Oscar being an informal name for an Academy Award. A cunning line break between “Garbo’s” and “career” in the original puzzle made this a tricky one to spot. – LP]

45. Girl is deceitful, we hear – examine closely (7)

Answer: ANALYSE (i.e. “examine closely”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of ANNA LIES (i.e. “girl is deceitful”).

46. Unrated article by father with covering letter (3-4)

Answer: TAX-FREE (i.e. “unrated”, as in a rate of tax). Solution is TEE (i.e. the “letter” T) wrapped around or “covering”) A (i.e. “article”), X (i.e. “by”, as in the multiplication symbol) and FR (a recognised abbreviation of “Father”), like so: T(A-X-FR)EE.

47. Disease is to claim one hundred peasants (7)

Answer: RUSTICS (i.e. “peasants”). Solution is RUST (i.e. “[a plant] disease”) followed by IS once it has been wrapped around or “claiming” C (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one hundred”), like so: RUST-I(C)S.

49. Moves perhaps from A to B without stopping? (9)

Answer: GLISSANDI, which is the plural of glissando, the effect produced by one running their fingers along a keyboard or strings. So, in this case, A and B would be musical notes. Another clue that seems a little weak unless I’m missing something clever.

50. Particle detector close to big mountain opposite (6,7)

Answer: GEIGER COUNTER (i.e. “particle detector”). Solution is G (i.e. “close to big”, i.e. the last letter of “big”) followed by EIGER (i.e. “mountain”) and COUNTER (i.e. “opposite”).

52. Contesting teams to bring fish aboard? (5)

Answer: SIDES. Solution satisfies “contesting teams” and, cryptically, “to bring fish aboard” – an IDE is a kind of fish, and is placed in or “aboard” SS (a recognised abbreviation of “steamship”), like so: S(IDE)S. That’s my take on it, anyway.

53. Brain perhaps working – there’s logic to this (7)

Answer: ORGANON, which is “a method of investigation” – no me neither. File this under “made to fit”. Anyway, “there’s logic to this”. Solution is ORGAN (i.e. “brain perhaps”) followed by ON (i.e. “working”).

54. Crisis to develop with Conservative lying in state (9)

Answer: EMERGENCY (i.e. “crisis”). Solution is EMERGE (i.e. “to develop”) followed by C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) once it has been placed or “lying in” NY (i.e. “state”, specifically New York), like so: EMERGE-N(C)Y.

Down clues

1. Children keeping dog that’s fast (7)

Answer: SECURED (i.e. “fast”, as in locked up). Solution is SEED (i.e. “children”) wrapped around or “keeping” CUR (i.e. “dog”), like so: SE(CUR)ED.

2. Outrageous old copper furious lesbian detains (11)

Answer: INEXCUSABLE (i.e. “outrageous”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) and CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “furious”) of LESBIAN, like so: IN(EX-CU)SABLE.

3. Corruption in Britain today (5)

Answer: TAINT (i.e. “corruption”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: BRI(TAIN T)ODAY.

4. Old police make move receiving directions to bug (7)

Answer: GESTAPO (i.e. “old police” of Nazi Germany). Solution is GO (i.e. “make move”) wrapped around or “receiving” E and S (i.e. “directions”, being East and West on a compass) along with TAP (i.e. “to bug”), like so: G(E-S-TAP)O.

5. Mostly stressed foreign consonant (3)

Answer: TAU (i.e. “foreign consonant”, i.e. the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding to the letter T). Solution is TAUT (i.e. “stressed”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”).

6. Tale can do with alteration as story (9)

Answer: ANECDOTAL (i.e. “as story”). “With alteration” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TALE CAN DO.

7. Chop stick? (6)

Answer: CLEAVE. Solution satisfies “[to] chop” and “[to] stick” or adhere to something. Good clue!

8. Weather turned bad – game becomes forgotten event (5,5,3,6)

Answer: WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE (i.e. “forgotten event”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bad”) of WEATHER TURNED followed by BRIDGE (i.e. “[card] game”).

9. Mexican state feline found in many fens? (7)

Answer: YUCATAN (i.e. “Mexican state”). Solution is CAT (i.e. “feline”) placed or “found in” YUAN (i.e. “many fens”, referring to Chinese currency. 100 fens make a yuan. Clever. I rather like it), like so: YU(CAT)AN.

10. Unreliable character arrived carrying hotel sign with name (9)

Answer: CHAMELEON (i.e. “unreliable character”). Solution is CAME (i.e. “arrived”) wrapped around or “carrying” H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), then followed by LEO (i.e. “[star]sign”) and N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”), like so: C(H)AME-LEO-N.

11. Diplomatic incident? That could get the papers carried away! (7,4)

Answer: ATTACHE CASE. Solution satisfies “that could get the papers carried away”, as in a case in which one could carry some papers, and “diplomatic incident” – ATTACHE being another word for “diplomat” and CASE being “incident”.

12. Vassal for example tucking into pork pie (5)

Answer: LIEGE (i.e. “vassal”). Solution is EG (i.e. “for example”) placed or “tucked into” LIE (i.e. “pork pie”, being Cockney rhyming slang for a lie), like so: LI(EG)E.

16. Lofted shots and all needed in play (5,4,10)

Answer: CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING, a 1962 “play” by Arnold Wesker. No, me neither. Solution is CHIPS (i.e. “lofted shots”, e.g. in golf or football) followed by WITH (i.e. “and”) and EVERYTHING (i.e. “all”).

19. Drug member of rock group losing head (7)

Answer: STEROID (i.e. “drug”). Solution is ASTERIOD (i.e. “member of rock group”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “losing head”). A clue that scans rather well.

21. Cardinal travelled in Irish county without resistance (6-3)

Answer: TWENTY-ONE (i.e. “cardinal”, referring to a cardinal number, or what most people would simply call “a number” – weak again, for my money). Solution is WENT (i.e. “travelled”) placed in TYRONE (i.e. “Irish county”) once the R has been removed (indicated by “without resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance”), like so: T(WENT)YONE.

22. Not about you in French dialect (6)

Answer: PATOIS (i.e. “dialect”). Not having done French since school, and even then rather badly, I’m guessing PATOIS is either a concatenation or homophone of “not about you” once it has been translated into French. Google Translate kind of hints this might be the case, but I could be wrong.
[EDIT: MNM comes to the rescue in the comments, who points out that PAS is “not” in French, while TOI is “you”. “About” indicates one is placed around the other, like so: PA(TOI)S. Thanks, MNM! – LP]

23. One’s handle in one’s hand? (9)

Answer: AUTOGRAPH. A “handle” can refer to one’s name. When one signs their name, they could be said to have their handle in their hand. You get the idea. Ugh. Next.

24. Diminishing sound of clairvoyant uncertain when heard (4-3)

Answer: FADE OUT (i.e. “diminishing sound”). “When heard” indicates the solution is a homophone of FEY (i.e. “clairvoyant”) and DOUBT (i.e. “uncertain”).

25. Cockney’s suit in stretch to accommodate good man (7)

Answer: WHISTLE (i.e. “cockney’s suit”, a “whistle and flute” is a suit in Cockney rhyming slang). Solution is WHILE (i.e. “stretch [of time]”) wrapped around or “accommodating” ST (i.e. “good man”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “saint”), like so: WHI(ST)LE.

27. Mistakes from Mister Rorschach (6)

Answer: ERRORS (i.e. “mistakes”). “From” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: MIST(ER RORS)SCHACH.

29. Time invested in symphony and certain literature? (7)

Answer: EROTICA (i.e. “certain literature”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) placed or “invested in” Beethoven’s EROICA (i.e. “symphony”), like so: ERO(T)ICA.

31. Partnered ace clubs comedian being funny about piano (11)

Answer: ACCOMPANIED (i.e. “partnered”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” in cards) followed by C (ditto “clubs”) and an anagram (indicated by “being funny”) of COMEDIAN once it has been wrapped “about” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in musical lingo), like so: A-C-COM(P)ANIED.

33. Republic in which dog is brown (11)

Answer: AFGHANISTAN. Solution satisfies “republic” and “dog is brown”, i.e. AFGHAN IS TAN.

35. Incomplete system is as unstable for writers (9)

Answer: ESSAYISTS (i.e. “writers”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unstable”) of SYSTEM, once its final letter has been removed (indicated by “incomplete”), and IS AS.

37. About ninety in euros converted – enough for trip (9)

Answer: EXCURSION (i.e. “trip”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “converted”) of IN EUROS wrapped “about” XC (i.e. “[Roman numerals] ninety”), like so: E(XC)URSION.

40. Eat heartily in Oz, when one from Germany stuffs spicy duck (3,4)

Answer: HOE INTO (i.e. “eat heartily in Oz” – not in my Chambers, this, but my Cassel’s Dictionary of Slang has this Australian phrase as “to begin a task with energy and enthusiasm”, which kind of fits). Solution is EIN (i.e. “one from Germany”, i.e. the German for “one”) placed or “stuffed” in HOT (i.e. “spicy”) and O (i.e. “duck”, being a zero score in cricket), like so: HO(EIN)T-O.

42. Amazing motorway chase involving learner (7)

Answer: MIRACLE (i.e. “amazing”). Solution is MI (i.e. “motorway”, as in the M1) followed by RACE (i.e. “chase”) once it has been wrapped around or “involving” L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”), like so: MI-RAC(L)E.

43. One having to leave departs ancient city ruin (7)

Answer: DESTROY (i.e. “ruin”). Solution is DIES (i.e. “departs”) with the I removed (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one having to leave”) and followed by TROY (i.e. “ancient city”), like so: DES-TROY.

44. Second in command co-ordinates facts – it’s inspired (6)

Answer: OXYGEN (i.e. “it’s inspired”, i.e. it’s inhaled). Solution is O (i.e. “second in command”, i.e. the second letter of “command”) followed by X and Y (i.e. “co-ordinates”) and GEN (i.e. “facts”).

45. Serviceman in rising tide finds protection (5)

Answer: AEGIS (i.e. “protection”). Solution is GI (i.e. “serviceman”) placed in SEA (i.e. “tide”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “rising”, this being a down clue), like so: AE(GI)S.

48. Wounded animal rolls over under stone (5)

Answer: STUNG (i.e. “wounded”). Solution is GNU (i.e. “animal”) reversed (indicated by “rolls over”) and placed “under” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “stone”, as in a measurement of weight) – this being a down clue – like so: ST-UNG.

51. Listened to melody before (3)

Answer: ERE (a poetic form of “before”). “Listened to” indicates the solution is a homophone of AIR (i.e. “melody”).

Review: Best New Horror 9

(If you would like to read reviews of previous books in the series, hop on over to my Reviews page.)

Best New Horror 9 contains nineteen horror shorts published during 1997; those halcyon days shortly before the Millennium Bug came along and destroyed everything. In the sand-blasted world in which we now serve Our Beneficent and Most Glorious Robot Overlords, it’s good to look back every once in a while during the generous 90-second breaks afforded us every now and again to imagine, and for some of us to still remember, what life was like back when horror used to be a made-up thing.

In keeping with previous volumes in the series, Best New Horror 9 presents a jumble of the good, the brilliant and a healthy showing of the not-quite-so-good-but-still-okay-I-guess. Overall, it’s a 4/5 from me, but only just. And so, without any further blathering, to the stories:

Also collected in Schow’s “Zombie Jam”. Love the cover!

Dying Words – David J. Schow (4/5 – Schow kicks things off with a knowing, twisty-turny slice of metafiction starring two of his pseudonyms. Oliver Lowenbruck has been commissioned to write a zombie story and he’s getting nowhere. He asks his friend, Chan McConnell, to help him out. Before heading over to Oliver’s place, Chan takes a call from his girlfriend, Michelle, who works at the local hospital. Michelle is seeing a lot of crazed, brain-hungry patients being rushed in all of a sudden. Paging Doctor Irony… This has no right to work as well as it does! It’s over-engineered, it’s disjointed and the characters act wholly in service to the plot. And yet there’s a confidence and irresistible energy to this story that powers it through. Impressive stuff.)

Also collected in Williams’s “Use Once, Then Destroy”

The Windmill – Conrad Williams (4/5 – Claire has taken a week off work to travel around Norfolk with Jonathan, her other half. They stop by a rustic hostelry for a drink and inevitably get weirded out by the locals. It’s an inauspicious start to the holiday, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. This just about scraped a 4/5 for me. The story shares a few too many genes with several other “holiday horror” tales. Williams seems conscious of this, at least, devoting a significant chunk of story-time to the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Claire and the walking bell-end that is Jonathan. It makes for a compelling read, as other people’s break-ups often can be, and carries the story along to a decent if slightly throwaway conclusion.)

Also collected in Burke’s “We’ve Been Waiting For You and Other Tales of Unease”

The Right Ending – John Burke (3/5 – A mysterious woman approaches Martin Paget, a successful novelist, at his book signing. The woman seems familiar, but Paget cannot place her. She comments that Paget’s latest novel, though convincing, didn’t have the right ending. She promptly vanishes, leaving Paget to wonder what she meant. As far as he was concerned the novel ended just how he wanted, thank you very much. When the woman appears again at Paget’s home, claiming once more that he wrote the wrong ending, it becomes clear she’s not going to let it go. This was okay, delivering some humorous observations from the other side of fandom, but the story was too slight to truly satisfy.)


Also collected in Clark’s “Salt Snake and Other Bloody Cuts”

Swallowing A Dirty Seed – Simon Clark (4/5 – A retired solicitor gets to grips with his new house out in the country. Not least of his troubles is the house’s erratic electricity supply. The moment he finally manages to settle down to an evening meal he is interrupted by a knock at the door. A visibly distressed couple plead for food and shelter, which our man selflessly provides. He grows concerned when he learns there was a third member of their party, however, and his unease deepens when the two refuse to discuss what happened to him. A good one, this, eventually playing out like a modern-day Brothers Grimm tale.)


This Is Your Life (Repressed Memory Remix) – Pat Cadigan (4/5 – Renata returns to the family home following the recent death of her father. She is urged to watch a confessional video of the old man in which he begs her forgiveness for the horrible things he did to her as a child. This is all news to Renata, and she is having none of it. She wants out of the house immediately but the rest of the family have other ideas. This is a disturbing entry that cleverly toys with the reader. The title would suggest that Renata has suppressed awful memories of her childhood, while Cadigan’s introduction – in which she details a tragic, real-life instance of False Memory Syndrome – offers an alternative explanation.)

Christmas Forever – Christopher Fowler (3/5 – A new ice age has dawned (which is a little odd seeing as though we’re technically still in the midst of one… #PedantsYay). Britain is frozen solid. London suffocates under a thick blanket of snow and ice. The winds are fierce, the blizzards are lethal. Kallie is worried about Bennett, who’d left some time ago to get supplies. Fearing Bennett has perished, Kallie goes out to find him. This was originally published in a Sunday newspaper back in the day and is less a story than a “what-if” with some characters thrown in. Kallie has little purpose other than being our eyes and ears as we go gadding about this alien, snow-blasted city. While Fowler succeeds in conjuring up some vivid snowscape scenery in this story, it doesn’t rank among his best.)

Four Famines Ago – Yvonne Navarro (3/5 – Paul is senior vice-president of a media company specialising in producing educational films for high schools. He sends Aisha out to Somalia to obtain more up-to-date footage of the ravages of famine being suffered there, complaining that the footage they have was captured “four famines ago”. Aisha is furious at Paul’s flippant remark but begrudgingly complies. When she returns, Paul notices Aisha has lost some weight. After viewing her footage, Paul soon finds he’s losing weight too. This was okay, but something about the story didn’t sit right with me. Though it obviously meant well, the story presented a number of degrees of separation between the reader and the true horror at its heart – that of the famine itself. The impact of the story was dampened as a result. It’s one of those rare occasions I wished a story was longer, adding, say, a section in which we follow Aisha’s time in Somalia. Could just be me, though.)

Also collected in Laws’ “The Midnight Man”

The Crawl – Stephen Laws (4/5It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – ever! – until you are dead! “Aha!” you cry. “That’s off of The Terminator, that is!” And you’d be right. It’s also a fitting description of this story, and perhaps a few hundred thousand slasher films besides. And yet, despite the overly familiar… well, everything about this story, Laws succeeds by ramping up the tension from the get-go and never letting up. In The Crawl, Gill and Paul are a quarrelling couple driving home when their car is attacked by a sickle-wielding nutcase. Gill struggles to maintain control of the car, bringing it to a shuddering, screeching halt. Paul heads out to give the idiot a piece of his mind but instantly regrets it when said idiot heads his way, full of murderous intent. Gill drives Paul away from danger, but finds she cannot get the car out of first gear. And so a slow relentless chase begins. It’s fun and engaging stuff, though Laws is guilty of using a cheap trick right at the start to generate a good chunk of the tension.)

Serpent Eggs – David Langford (2/5 – Langford catches an unfortunate dose of Lovecraft in a tale which sees Robert, a UFOlogist, stay at a commune up on Drotch Skerry, an island on the edge of the Shetlands. It is said that things have fallen from the sky there. Hmm, maybe. All Robert knows is that the islanders are a balding and pallid-looking lot. Has a sickness befallen the commune, or could there be something extra-terrestrial at work? According to his introduction, Langford made several attempts at writing this story over the course of twenty years, eventually changing the tone, changing the main character and changing the ending. If only he’d changed the style too. A pity, as I’m often drawn to his amusing Ansible Link columns in Interzone magazine. The story can be found in Langford’s collection, Irrational Numbers, published by Necronomicon Press, though you might have a job hunting down a copy.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

No One You Know – Dennis Etchison (3/5 – Jeannie receives a phone call from her ex, Michael, and gives him hell for cheating on her. Michael responds by threatening to kill himself, and Jeannie hears him fill up the chambers of his handgun one by one. Jeannie hangs up and calls her best friend Mara, doubting her resolve in ditching his ass. Mara tells Jeannie to forget about him, and in no uncertain terms. But then Mara also receives a call from Michael… This was okay, but, for me, the changes of personality we witness in both Jeannie and Mara were the most unsettling thing about the story, and I’m not entirely sure that was intentional.)



Also collected in Hodge’s “Falling Idols”

The Dripping Of Sundered Wineskins – Brian Hodge (5/5 – Hodge follows his excellent The Alchemy Of The Throat (featured in Best New Horror 6) with another superb novella that deservedly bagged a World Fantasy Award nomination at the time. In Dripping… we follow the life of Patrick Kieran Malone from a young Irish lad who survives a bomb blast, though his troubled time spent as a true stigmatic among the monks and friars of the local Franciscan order, and finally onto his awakening at the hands of his apostate Uncle Brendan and three mysterious goddesses of the land. To go into any more detail would be to rob the story of its impact, suffice to say its middle section, set in the Franciscan order, is astonishing in more than one sense of the word. If you were to read only one story from Best New Horror 9, set an hour aside for this one. Unmissable.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Teatro Grottesco”

The Bells Will Sound Forever – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – A man called Crumm takes lodgings at Mrs Pyk’s large and mostly unoccupied hostel. Mrs Pyk places Crumm high up in the house, and on the way up Crumm hears a faint jangle of bells. As he makes himself comfortable, Crumm’s attention is drawn to the door opposite his. It’s a door that leads up to the attic. Perhaps the sound of bells came from up there? This is another story that just scrapes a 4/5 from me, but is boosted by Ligotti’s hypnotic writing. It perhaps didn’t help that certain parts of the story immediately brought to mind Timothy Claypole from an old BBC kid’s TV show called Rentaghost. No bad thing, perhaps, but I doubt that was Ligotti’s intention. It’s worth a read, but in a toss up between this and, say, Roald Dahl’s The Landlady, I’d go for the Dahl every time.)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Told By The Dead”

The Word – Ramsey Campbell (4/5 – Given that Campbell appears in nearly every volume of Best New Horror, I knew we would get to a good story of his sooner or later, and here it is! In this Stoker-nominated tale, Jeremy is an embittered genre fiction fan who interviews a writer, Jess Kray, for his fanzine, and is less than flattering in his opinions. Kray shrugs it off, perfectly pleasant, no sweat. Jeremy then witnesses, aghast, the stellar rise of Kray upon the publication of his new doorstopper, “The Word”. It soon takes the world by storm. Everyone is reading it. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone seems to smugly espouse its wisdom. But what is “The Word”? How can nobody pin down exactly what the book is about? What power does it hold over those who read it? There’s only one way for Jeremy to find out, but will it cost him more than his personal pride to read the thing? What could have been a thinly-veiled dig at organised religion and the snarkier elements of fandom is made much more interesting in Campbell’s hands. Good stuff!)

Also collected in Duncan’s “An Agent of Utopia”

The Map To The Homes To The Stars – Andy Duncan (3/5 – Tom and Jack are teenagers with a car and a route around town that lets them check on all the girls they fancy. Creepy, right? Their classmate Anna certainly seems to think so, and wastes no time in telling them. The pair offer Anna a lift, which she accepts. Relegated to the back seat, and giving Anna a neck rub, Jack senses something isn’t quite right. This was okay, but I didn’t really buy into it. The moment Anna’s “erotic” neck rub was clumsily conflated with Jack’s increasingly speedy and erratic driving, the wheels fell off for me.)



Also collected in Kiernan’s “Two Worlds and In Between”

Emptiness Spoke Eloquent – Caitlín R Kiernan (3/5 – A spot of fan fiction from Kiernan as she takes Stoker’s Dracula and, through Mina Harker, explores the lives of its characters in the decades following the end of the book. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I’m not a huge fan of stories that come with prerequisites – and this is most definitely one – but Emptiness… gets a pass for prompting me to fill an embarrassing gap in my reading. It’s an interesting story, and beautifully written, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Perhaps, in a weird way, that was the point. The title is taken from the climax of the novel, where [DRACULA SPOILERS AHEAD] Van Helsing locates Dracula’s vast and empty tomb, buggers about with it to stop Dracs from kipping there, and then proceeds to butcher his brides. In Emptiness… we witness Mina’s life being similarly hollowed out, albeit gradually, as war, time and even love conspires to leave her alone in the world. Of course, I could be overthinking it.)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

Save As… – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – A man walks out from hospital, stunned, leaving behind the bodies of his wife and child following a horrific car crash. He checks into Same Again, a super-hush-hush facility out in a nondescript part of town. It seems the agency’s roof has sprung a leak, but that’s the least of our man’s concerns. All he wants is to revert to a previous backup of his life. But can anything ever be as simple and so free of consequence? Being a fully paid-up nerd, I wanted to like this story more than I actually did. Switch off your logic circuits for half an hour and you might have a better time of it.)

Coppola’s Dracula – Kim Newman (5/5 – More fan fiction this time as Newman flexes his encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema to produce a hugely imaginative novella set in his Anno Dracula universe, speculating what Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula could have been like had he filmed it instead of Apocalypse Now, deep in the darkest part of Ceausescu’s Romania. It’s another story that comes with a string of prerequisites, and I’m not the greatest fan of Apocalypse Now, but I have to doff my stovepipe to Newman for his ambition and skill in putting this together. This is jaw-dropping stuff, and rightly bagged a string of award nominations at the time (Stoker, World Fantasy and International Horror Critics Guild, the latter of which it won.) Amazingly, it doesn’t seem as if this story has been collected anywhere other than here and Jones’s The Mammoth Book of Dracula, in which it originally appeared. Go seek it out!)

Also collected in Jones’s “Grazing The Long Acre”

Grazing The Long Acre – Gwyneth Jones (4/5 – A free-spirited young woman takes to the roads of Poland, travelling with whoever will have her (often in more than one sense of the word). Riding along a particular stretch of motorway she notices a string of prostitutes lining the road. Her companion remarks how a large number have been murdered or have gone missing, leaving behind only bundles of dirty clothing. When they stop at a roadside diner she grows concerned that her companion is trying to offload her onto someone else, and decides to bail. But has she merely jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? This is a good read, with an unsettling sense of moral ambiguity, but it takes a while to get going. Also, if you read this story in Best New Horror 9, I’d recommend reading it ahead of the author’s spoilerific introduction.)

The Zombies Of Madison County – Douglas E. Winter (3/5 – Having started with a spot of metafiction, Jones ends volume 9 with another, and a novella that bagged nominations for a World Fantasy Award and a Stoker no less. A pity then that it nearly left me as cold as the titular zombies. Winter drops a version of himself into a story within a story: a story of love, loss and a very peculiar love regained. When Douglas Winter’s childhood sweetheart Stacie dumps Douglas Winter while pregnant with someone else’s baby, Douglas Winter is heartbroken but goes off and lives Douglas Winter’s life like a good Douglas Winter does. But when the inevitable zombie apocalypse happens, and trainloads of zombies are shipped off to Madison County to be incinerated, Douglas Winter feels something calling him back home. There Douglas Winter finds a zombified Stacie, trapped in a crowded holding pen, and so begins a bizarre (and gruesome) rekindling of love through the barricades. I imagine your enjoyment of this will depend on your take on supposed Great American Novels. If boggy, overwrought prose does it for you every time then you’ll probably have a better time of this than me. It only just scrapes a 3/5 thanks to a superior framing story.)

Necrology: 1997 – Now, I don’t normally mention the review of horror or the Necrology sections of these books, but an exception is warranted this time around. For those who don’t know, the Necrology is a roll call of those who passed away during the year who had a link, however tenuous, to the horror field, and is compiled each year by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. This entry drew my interest: “Executive producer/financier Dodi Fayed was killed with his girlfriend in a car crash in Paris on 31 August, aged 42.” Some interesting phrasing there: “…with his girlfriend…” Sounds like someone wasn’t a Princess Di fan.

And so concludes another review of Best New Horror. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading! I hope you’ll pop by for another review soon. In the meantime, if you are tempted to read Best New Horror 9, you should be able to find a second-hand copy on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks without too much trouble. Alternatively, eBook copies should be available on all major platforms. The book images above will link to their respective Goodreads pages should you want to explore an author’s work further.

Thanks again for reading. All being well, I’ll see you soon in another review.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1399

A relatively easy one this week, though there were still a few exotic solutions to keep me on my toes. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions, where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

As ever, before we jump in, some housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page to be just the ticket. If you dig on horror fiction then I’ve a few things on my Reviews page that could be of interest. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 9 up shortly, you lucky people. I might also start sticking a couple of stories on here if you’re not careful, so watch out.

Anyway, enough blathering from me. On with the answers. See you next time,


Across clues

1. But mosaic is in pieces of very small size (9)

Answer: SUBATOMIC (i.e. “of very small size”). “In pieces” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BUT MOSAIC.

6. Rum delivery in case (7)

Answer: ODDBALL (i.e. “case”, as in “an odd or humorous character” (Chambers)). Solution is ODD (i.e. “rum”) followed by BALL (i.e. “delivery” in a number of ball games).

10. Talks idly of tears when husband’s gone (5)

Answer: GASES (i.e. “talks idly”). Solution is GASHES (i.e. “tears”) with the H removed (indicated by “when husband’s gone” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “husband”).

13. Quite happy to study wine (7)

Answer: CONTENT (i.e. “quite happy”). Solution is CON (an archaic word for “study” often used by setters) followed by TENT (a deep-red Spanish “wine” – a new one on me. I’ll take a glass, thanks).

14. Casual assistance given to cricket side (7)

Answer: OFFHAND (i.e. “casual”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “assistance”) placed behind or “given to” OFF (i.e. “cricket side”, as in the opposite of on- or leg-side).

15. Mediterranean boat’s fine, but not in Tuscan city (7)

Answer: FELUCCA (i.e. “Mediterranean boat”). Solution is FE (i.e. “fine, but not in”, i.e. the word “fine” with the letters IN removed) followed by LUCCA (i.e. “Tuscan city”). A bit of brute force needed from my Chambers, here, once I had all the intersecting letters.

16. Be hopeful and view the less good single? That’s about correct (4,2,3,6,4)

Answer: LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (i.e. “be hopeful”). Solution is LOOK ON THE B SIDE (i.e. “view the less good single” – ask your parents, kids) wrapped “about” RIGHT (i.e. “correct”), like so: LOOK-ON-THE-B(RIGHT)-SIDE.

17. Dine on steak, say, but not medium (3)

Answer: EAT (i.e. “dine”). Solution is MEAT (i.e. “steak, say”) with the M removed (indicated by “but not medium” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “medium”).

18. Make material that’s woven by demo (6)

Answer: EMBODY (i.e. “make material”). “That’s woven by” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BY DEMO.

20. Halt alien sea creature (6)

Answer: LIMPET (i.e. “sea creature”). Solution is LIMP (i.e. “halt” – an archaic meaning is to limp or hobble) followed by ET (i.e. “alien”, specifically an Extra-Terrestrial).

21. A fatal preparation of polonium’s working on defector (3,6)

Answer: RAT POISON (i.e. “a fatal preparation”). Solution is RAT (i.e. “defector”) followed by PO (chemical symbol of “polonium”) and IS ON (i.e. “working”).

23. One selling company of men in pursuit of £51 a time (10)

Answer: LIQUIDATOR (i.e. “one selling company”). Solution is LI QUID (i.e. “£51” – the Roman numerals LI equate to 51, and British pounds are often referred to as quid) followed by A and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), then finished by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).

25. Reason for being editor – earns fantastically (6,5)

Answer: RAISON DETRE (i.e. “reason for being”). “Fantastically” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EDITOR EARNS.

29. Fish, angler’s first in northern lake (5)

Answer: LOACH (i.e. “fish”). Solution is A (i.e. “angler’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “angler”) placed “in” LOCH (i.e. “northern lake”), like so: LO(A)CH.

30. Cast in one broadcast on “Columbo” misses uniform (8)

Answer: MONOBLOC (i.e. “cast in one”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “broadcast”) of ON COLUMBO once the U has been removed (indicated by “missing uniform” – U being “uniform” in the phonetic alphabet). A bit of a guess, this, as the word doesn’t feature in my Chambers. It feels about right, though.

31. Move downwards is concerning Papal ambassador (8)

Answer: RELEGATE (i.e. “move downwards”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerning” – think email replies) followed by LEGATE (i.e. “Papal ambassador”).

34. What’s amusing in key National Executive Committee notes (8)

Answer: ANECDOTE (i.e. “what’s amusing”). Solution is A (i.e. “[musical] key”) followed by NEC (i.e. “National Executive Committee”) and DO and TE (both “notes” in the do-ray-me style).

36. Poor Indian chap without an article (8)

Answer: INDIGENT (i.e. “poor”). Solution is IND (a recognised abbreviation of “Indian”) and GENT (i.e. “chap”) wrapped around or placed “without” I (i.e. “an article”, which are things like “a”, “an” and “the”), like so: IND-(I)-GENT.

37. Place to stay right after golf? (5)

Answer: HOTEL (i.e. “place to stay”). In the phonetic alphabet, HOTEL (i.e. H) will be “right after golf” (which represents G).

39. Speeding up wrecked oral cadence (11)

Answer: ACCELERANDO (i.e. “[music] speeding up”). Last week we had RALLENTANDO (slowing down), so why not? Anyway, “wrecked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ORAL CADENCE.

41. Who’s uninterested in the narrow catalogue of species groups? (10)

Answer: GENERALIST (i.e. “who’s uninterested in the narrow”, i.e. the opposite of a specialist). Solution also satisfies “catalogue of species groups”, as in a GENERA (plural of genus) LIST.

43. Quiet speaker with his quiet and repeated signs of hesitation (9)

Answer: WHISPERER (i.e. “quiet speaker”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) followed by HIS, then P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo), then ER and ER (i.e. “repeated signs of hesitation”).

45. Went down, to come back gathering oxygen is empty (6)

Answer: DEVOID (i.e. “empty”). Solution is DIVED (i.e. “went down”) reversed (indicated by “to come back”) and wrapped around or “gathering” O (chemical symbol of “oxygen”), like so: DEV(O)ID.

47. Mostly odd echo with large chimney near bridge? (6)

Answer: FUNNEL (i.e. “chimney near bridge”, referring to the funnels one might see on steamships). Solution is FUNNY (i.e. “odd”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”), followed by E (i.e. “echo” in the phonetic alphabet) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “long”), like so: FUNN-E-L.

49. Doctor covering up a breach (3)

Answer: GAP (i.e. “breach”). Solution is GP (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a General Practitioner) wrapped around or “covering up” A, like so: G(A)P.

50. Variety of round cogwheel which has some falling out (10,2,7)

Answer: DIFFERENCE OF OPINION (i.e. “falling out”). Solution is DIFFERENCE (i.e. “variety”) followed by OF, then O (i.e. “round”), then PINION (i.e. “cogwheel”).

52. Sound the alarm as “whiskey” is adopted for a time for Scots emblem (7)

Answer: WHISTLE (i.e. “sound the alarm”). Solution is THISTLE (i.e. “Scots emblem”) with the initial T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) replaced by W (“whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet). The wording of the clue kind of suggests the solution should be the other way around (i.e. THISTLE instead of WHISTLE), but this clashes with 43d. (Shrugs shoulders, whistles and moves on.)

53. Off-colour and casual about old Balkan area (7)

Answer: ILLYRIA (i.e. “old Balkan area” – no, me neither. Chambers bailed me out here once the first few letters became apparent). Solution is ILL (i.e. “off-colour”) followed by AIRY (i.e. “casual” – a bit of a motif for this puzzle) which has been revered (indicated by “about”), like so: ILL-YRIA.

54. What some dancing fools hold – bishop must take steps to realise it (7)

Answer: BLADDER. In Morris dancing, a fool would carry a short stick with a pig’s bladder attached to it, it says here (i.e. “what some dancing fools hold”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop”) followed by LADDER (i.e. “steps”).

55. Stiff and cold, putting off female (5)

Answer: RIGID (i.e. “stiff”). Solution is FRIGID (i.e. “cold”) with the F removed (indicated by “putting off female” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “female”).

56. Where all may go on a trip with style (7)

Answer: HIGHWAY (i.e. “where all may go”). Solution is HIGH (i.e. “trip”, as in getting high) followed by WAY (i.e. “style”, as in a way of doing things).

57. Clear former mate and English sailor returning outside unit (9)

Answer: EXONERATE (i.e. “clear”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former mate”), with E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and TAR (i.e. “sailor”) which are both reversed (indicated by “returning”). These are then wrapped around or placed “outside” ONE (i.e. “unit”), like so: EX-(ONE)-RAT-E.

Down clues

1. Supposed codes all must be broken (2-6)

Answer: SO-CALLED (i.e. “supposed”). “Must be broken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CODES ALL.

2. House with rubbish container on drive (5)

Answer: BINGO (i.e. “house”, as in the game of chance). Solution is BIN (i.e. “rubbish container”) followed by GO (i.e. “drive”).

3. Firm bird around ruined lodge (3,4,4)

Answer: THE GOLD RUSH (i.e. Charlie Chaplin “film” of 1925). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of LODGE with THRUSH (i.e. “bird”) placed “around” it, like so: TH(EGOLD)RUSH.

4. Speechless about a temperature change (6)

Answer: MUTATE (i.e. “change”). Solution is MUTE (i.e. “speechless”) placed “about” A and T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”), like so: MUT(A-T)E.

5. Plug suiting that’s figure-hugging (5-7)

Answer: CLOSE-FITTING (i.e. “figure-hugging”). Solution is CLOSE (i.e. “[to] plug”) followed by FITTING (i.e. “suiting”).

6. Test for fixing promotion has ended (5,2)

Answer: OFFER UP. Solution satisfies a joinery term for “test for fixing”, and “promotion has ended”.

7. Swallow perched initially on housetop avoiding gusts of wind (15)

Answer: DRAUGHTPROOFING (i.e. “avoiding gusts of wind”). Solution is DRAUGHT (i.e. “[to take a] swallow [of some liquid]”) followed by P (i.e. “perched initially”, i.e. the first letter of “perched”) and ROOFING (i.e. “housetop”).

8. Financial record of motor company on Tourist Trophy track (5,5)

Answer: AUDIT TRAIL (i.e. “financial record”). Solution is AUDI (i.e. “motor company”) followed by TT (a recognised abbreviation of “Tourist Trophy”, held on the Isle of Man) and RAIL (i.e. “track”).

9. That’s it! Fellow running from the right is where he’s at (7)

Answer: LEFTIST. “Is where he’s at” hints that the solution is hidden in the clue, while “running from the right” suggests the solution has been reversed, like so: THA(TS IT FEL)LOW. In the context of the clue, a leftist could be one running from the right. Except on Twitter, of course, in which case the gloves come off and impotent rage and death threats spew forth from all sides. #YayModernPoliticalDiscourse

10. Good vintage single turning up, cut out for evergreen (6,5)

Answer: GOLDEN OLDIE (i.e. “evergreen”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by OLD (i.e. “vintage”), then LONE (i.e. “single”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “turning up”), then DIE (i.e. “cut out”), like so: G-OLD-ENOL-DIE.

11. Connector on television which needs a wrench to use (6,3)

Answer: SOCKET SET (i.e. “which needs a wrench to use”). Solution is SOCKET (i.e. “connector”) followed by SET (i.e. “television”).

12. Hardy box bark (7)

Answer: SPARTAN (i.e. “hardy”). Solution is SPAR (i.e. “[to] box”) followed by TAN (i.e. oak “bark” used for tanning).

19. Body of troops commanded to carry equipment (7)

Answer: BRIGADE (i.e. “body of troops”). Solution is BADE (i.e. “commanded”) wrapped around or “carrying” RIG (i.e. “equipment”), like so: B(RIG)ADE.

22. What shows movement of old building and every other one in theory (8)

Answer: ODOMETER (i.e. “what shows movement”, as in the clock that shows the distance your car has gone). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by DOME (i.e. “building”) then the alternate letters (indicated by “every other one”) of THEORY, like so: O-DOME-TER.

24. Mischievous sprite contrived woe for old goblin (5,10)

Answer: ROBIN GOODFELLOW, also known as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (i.e. “mischievous sprite”). “Contrived” indicates anagram. Solution is a nifty anagram of WOE FOR OLD GOBLIN.

26. Exhaust excessively visible, leading to anger (8)

Answer: OVERTIRE (i.e. “exhaust excessively”). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “visible”) followed by or “leading to” IRE (i.e. “anger”).

27. Waugh, perhaps, has name coming up constantly (6)

Answer: EVENLY (i.e. “constantly”). Solution is EVELYN (i.e. “Waugh, perhaps”) with the N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”) “coming up” a couple of notches, this being a down clue.

28. Mountain animal covering Andes, primarily (6)

Answer: ALPACA (i.e. “mountain animal”). Solution is ALP (i.e. “mountain”) followed by the initial letters (indicated by “primarily”) of ANIMAL COVERING ANDES. A nice bit of recursion, there.

32. Insides of parts list covers article needed for mechanic? (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “mechanic”). “Insides of” indicates a chunk of the solution can be found in the middle letters of PARTS LIST, followed by or “covering” (being a down clue) AN (i.e. “article”).

33. Gave interior reworking to lend a new vitality (12)

Answer: REINVIGORATE (i.e. “lend a new vitality”). “Reworking” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GAVE INTERIOR.

35. Broken-down and obsolete covers one circuit I had (11)

Answer: DILAPIDATED (i.e. “broken-down”). Solution is DATED (i.e. “obsolete”) wrapped around or “covering” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by LAP (i.e. “circuit”) and I’D (i.e. “I had”), like so: D(I-LAP-I’D)ATED.

37. See things mostly stopped when Roman goddess enters (11)

Answer: HALLUCINATE (i.e. “see things”). Solution is HALTED (i.e. “stopped”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and wrapped around (indicated by “enters”) LUCINA (i.e. “Roman goddess [of childbirth]”), like so: HAL(LUCINA)TE.

38. Diner being given wrong order, a cause of some illnesses (10)

Answer: INBREEDING (i.e. “a cause of some illnesses”). “Given wrong order” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DINER BEING.

40. Fretting under constant and disastrous undermining (9)

Answer: CRIPPLING (i.e. “disastrous undermining”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”) with RIPPLING (i.e. “fretting”) placed “under” – this being a down clue.

42. Casual walking enthusiast around Lake Erie (8)

Answer: FLANERIE (i.e. “casual walking” – no, me neither). Solution is FAN (i.e. “enthusiast”) wrapped “around” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”) and ERIE, like so: F(L)AN-ERIE.

43. Worker’s pay was cut back, right? Be belligerent (4,3)

Answer: WAGE WAR (i.e. “be belligerent”). Solution is WAGE (i.e. “worker’s pay”) followed by WAS with he last letter removed (indicated by “cut back”), then followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: WAGE-WA-R.

44. Update reference concerning small hotel (7)

Answer: REFRESH (i.e. “update”). Solution is REF (a recognised abbreviation of “reference”) followed by RE (i.e. “concerning” – think email replies) then by S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) and finally H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet”), like so: REF-RE-S-H.

46. Governor’s wicked behaviour over chap (7)

Answer: VICEROY (i.e. “governor”). Solution is VICE (i.e. “wicked behaviour”) followed by or placed “over” – this being a down clue – ROY (i.e. “chap”).

48. Reserve volume endlessly in error (3-3)

Answer: BOO-BOO (i.e. “error”). Solution is BOOK (i.e. “reserve”) and BOOK (i.e. “volume”) both with their final letters removed (indicated by “endlessly”). I rather liked this one when I twigged it.

51. Home help turned up in a state (5)

Answer: INDIA (i.e. “state”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”) followed by AID (i.e. “help”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “turned up”, this being a down clue), like so: IN-DIA.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1398

A tougher puzzle for Bank Holiday Monday (aren’t they all?) with a few exotic solutions to keep the pages of one’s Chambers warm and a few other toughies to test the grey matter. Sadly, there were a few too many repeats as well. Can’t have ’em all, I guess.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might be interested in my Just For Fun page. If you can be tempted into a spot of horror fiction then you’ll find a few bits and pieces on my Reviews page.

Right, on with the show. Nearly caught up. Till the next one, laters.


Across clues

1. Systematically examine barbarian, uncivilised (2,7)

Answer: GO THROUGH (i.e. “systematically examine”). Solution is GOTH (i.e. “barbarian”, as opposed to those with a fancy for eyeliner and a spot of Black Lace black lace) followed by ROUGH (i.e. “uncivilised”). Aaaa-gaaa-doo-doo-d<gunshot sound>

6. Indication of scores seeing one good character going on by (4,9)

Answer: TIME SIGNATURE (i.e. “indication of [musical] scores”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and NATURE (i.e. “character”) with TIMES (i.e. “by”, as in multiplication) placed at the beginning, like so: TIMES-I-G-NATURE. The first of several repeats in this grid.

13. Not going anywhere yet (5)

Answer: STILL. Solution satisfies “not going anywhere” and “yet”.

14. Dog bites kit from behind, getting rear of United supporter (3,6)

Answer: BOX GIRDER (i.e. “supporter”). Solution is BOXER (i.e. “dog”) wrapped around or “biting” RIG (i.e. “kit”) which is reversed (indicated by “from behind”) and followed by D (i.e. “rear of United”, i.e. the last letter of “United”), like so: BOX(GIR-D)ER.

15. Manage poem in ode lacking content (7)

Answer: OVERSEE (i.e. “manage”). Solution is VERSE (i.e. “poem”) placed in OE (i.e. “ode lacking content”, i.e. the word “ode” with the middle letter removed), like so: O(VERSE)E.

16. Why leaves aren’t green? (5,6,4,2,5)

Answer: MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES. Solution riffs on how “green” can describe the colour of leaves on a tree as well as money. I loved this clue when I finally got it. Very cool.

18. In discovery of the swine, Poirot ultimately messes up (8)

Answer: TRUFFLES (i.e. “discovery of the swine”). Solution is T (i.e. “Poirot ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “Poirot”) followed by RUFFLES (i.e. “messes up”).

20. Lady in colonial India – shame I’m cavorting with bishop (8)

Answer: MEMSAHIB (i.e. “lady in colonial India”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cavorting”) of SHAME I’M followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop” used in chess), like so: MEMSAHI-B. I got the last half but had to brute force the first.

21. Look to think tank, some stupid conclusions being reflected (5)

Answer: DEKKO (i.e. “look” – I’ve never heard this one before, but it’s in the dictionary. I’m more of a shufti person, myself). “Conclusions” indicates the solution is hidden in the final letters of TO THINK TANK SOME STUPID, while “being reflected” indicates those letters have been reversed.

23. Theological teachings in study brought up (6)

Answer: REARED (i.e. “brought up”). Solution is RE (i.e. “theological teachings”, specifically Religious Education) placed “in” READ (i.e. “[to] study”), like so: REA(RE)D.

24. Infiltrating pack briefly, track animal (6)

Answer: BRUTAL (i.e. “animal”). This took a bit of figuring, but the solution is RUT (i.e. “track”) placed in or “infiltrating” BALE (i.e. “pack”) once its final letter has been removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: B(RUT)AL. A nice bit of misdirection by the setter, though I didn’t think this at the time.

25. Receptive about daughter, OK for a change? (9)

Answer: AMENDABLE (i.e. “OK for a change”). Solution is AMENABLE (i.e. “receptive”) placed “about” D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”), like so: AMEN(D)ABLE.

28. Fascinated by period in chains, say? (10)

Answer: SPELLBOUND (i.e. “fascinated”). Solution also satisfies “period in chains, say”, as in a SPELL during which one was BOUND.

29. Winger, one’s granny (4)

Answer: KNOT. Solution satisfies “winger” – a KNOT can be a bird – and “granny”, as in a granny KNOT. Another one that took some figuring. I was weighing this and GNAT up for most of the puzzle, which seems a bit daft in hindsight.

30. Breakfast for those in bed? (7)

Answer: KIPPERS (i.e. “breakfast”). Solution riffs on how those asleep or kipping in bed can also be referred to as KIPPERS. A simple clue, but one that made me smile when I got it.

32. Team arrives finally in stadium late for kick-off? (7)

Answer: ARSENAL (i.e. “[English football] team”). Solution is S (i.e. “arrives finally”, i.e. the last letter of “arrives”) placed “in” ARENA (i.e. “stadium”) and followed by L (i.e. “late for kick-off”, i.e. the first letter of “late”), like so: AR(S)ENA-L.

34. Hooligan left unconscious (4)

Answer: LOUT (i.e. “hooligan”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) followed by OUT (i.e. “unconscious”).

35. Everyone knows this pretence, so shaky (4,6)

Answer: OPEN SECRET (i.e. “everyone knows this”). “Shaky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PRETENCE SO.

38. A tramp originally occupying some wood, in consequence was begging (9)

Answer: ENTREATED (i.e. “was begging”). Solution is A and T (i.e. “tramp originally”, i.e. the first letter of “tramp”) placed in or “occupying” TREE (i.e. “some wood”), which in turn is placed “in” END (i.e. “consequence”), like so: EN(TRE(A-T)E)D.

39. Wonderful shiner came up shortly after punch, stuffing knocked out (6)

Answer: PHAROS, which is a lighthouse or beacon (i.e. “wonderful shiner”). A new one on me, but it’s there in the dictionary. Solution is AROSE (i.e. “came up”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “shortly”) and placed “after” PH (i.e. “punch, stuffing knocked out”, i.e. the word “punch” with the middle letters removed), like so: PH-AROS. A clue that scans rather well.

40. No starter with Chinese food – or a huge plateful? (6)

Answer: OODLES. Solution is NOODLES (i.e. “Chinese food”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “no starter”). In the context of the clue, a huge plateful could be deemed oodles of noodles. Another cool clue that made me smile.

43. Artist inspired by modern style (5)

Answer: Max ERNST, an “artist” who’s appeared in another grid relatively recently. He also showed up late last year. Ho hum. “Inspired by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: MOD(ERN ST)YLE.

45. Chinos primarily shipped out of heaving workplace where cords once manufactured (4-4)

Answer: ROPE-WALK, which is a long narrow shed for twisting threads into rope (i.e. “where cords once manufactured”). Good grief, this took me forever to decode! The solution is an anagram (indicated by “heaving”) of WORKPLACE once the C has been removed (indicated by “chinos primarily shipped out of…”, C being the first letter of “chinos”).

47. Artist leaving bride’s package unopened (8)

Answer: Henri ROUSSEAU (i.e. “artist”). Solution is TROUSSEAU (i.e. “bride’s package”, as in the clothes collected by the bride for her marriage (taps Chambers)) with the first letter removed (indicated – I guess – by “unopened”, though I can’t quite visualise why).

49. M. Monroe: celeb sure acting badly in O’Neill play (8,7,7)

Answer: MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA (i.e. “[Eugene] O’Neill play” – no, me neither, though the name rang a bell). “Badly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of M MONROE CELEB SURE ACTING. One of those clues where I took one look and thought, “Sod that. Hello, Google”. I have literally no shame.

52. Capital city the Balkan ideal, Ljubljana in Slovenia is always first (7)

Answer: TBILISI (i.e. “capital city” of Georgia). “Always first” indicates the solution is hidden in the initial letters of THE BALKAN IDEAL LJUBLJANA IN SLOVENIA IS. What a convoluted mess, but at least that made the wordplay a little easier to spot.

53. Plan arrived, stress picked up? (9)

Answer: INTENTION (i.e. “plan”). Solution is IN (i.e. “arrived”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of TENSION (i.e. “stress”), like so: IN-TENTION. Regular readers of my crossword posts may have noticed I’ve given up bleating about non-words being used as homophones. “King” and “Canute” spring to mind.

54. Weariness in recollection of current athlete, unlimited (5)

Answer: ENNUI (i.e. “weariness”). Solution is RUNNER (i.e. “athlete”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “unlimited”) and followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of “[electrical] current”). The whole is then reversed, indicated by “recollection”, like so: ENNU-I.

55. Cutting device, something sharp college tries (7,6)

Answer: PINKING SHEARS (i.e. “cutting device”). Solution is PIN (i.e. “something sharp”) followed by KINGS (i.e. “college”, located – you guessed it – in London) and HEARS (i.e. “tries”, as in a court of law).

56. Pygmy shot remarkably small creature (5,4)

Answer: GYPSY MOTH (i.e. “small creature”). “Remarkably” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PYGMY SHOT.

Down clues

1. Going over top of roost, egg possibly broken by very big tank (9)

Answer: GASOMETER (i.e. a storage “tank” for gas). Solution is R (i.e. “top of roost”, i.e. the first letter of “roost”) upon which (indicated by “going over” – this being a down clue) is placed GAMETE (i.e. “egg possibly”) once it has been wrapped around or “broken by” SO (i.e. “very big”, as in that is soooooooo gnarly, dude), like so: GA(SO)METE-R. SO could also be OS reversed (being a recognised abbreviation of “outsized”) but I can’t see a reverse indicator to bring it into play.

2. Great aunt Lily not half struggling to get into some sort of shape? (11)

Answer: TRIANGULATE (i.e. “to get into some sort of shape”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “struggling”) of GREAT AUNT and LI (i.e. “Lily not half”, i.e. the first half of “Lily”).

3. Improve demo (5)

Answer: RALLY. Solution satisfies “improve” and “demo”.

4. A foreign relation, knowledge complete (8)

Answer: UNBROKEN (i.e. “complete”). Solution is UN (i.e. “a foreign”, i.e. the masculine form of “a” in French) followed by BRO (i.e. “relation”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “brother”) and KEN (i.e. “knowledge”).

5. Sweet thing, old lover in stockings (6)

Answer: HEXOSE (i.e. “sweet thing”, being a sugar with six carbon atoms to the molecule). Solution is EX (i.e. “old lover”) placed “in” HOSE (i.e. “stockings”), like so: H(EX)OSE. One I got purely from the wordplay, to be honest.

6. Unlucky date maybe to be hit with the rent, unfortunately (10)

Answer: THIRTEENTH (i.e. “unlucky date maybe”). “Unfortunately” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HIT and THE RENT.

7. After defamation, forcibly remove swimmer for slippery practice (3-9)

Answer: MUD-WRESTLING (i.e. “slippery practice”). Solution is MUD (i.e. “defamation”) followed by WREST (i.e. “forcibly remove”) and LING (i.e. “swimmer”, a ling is a kind of fish).

8. Spread half of this well! (7)

Answer: STREWTH (i.e. an exclamatory “well!”). Solution is STREW (i.e. “spread”) followed by TH (i.e. “half of this”, specifically the first half of “this”).

9. Pioneering, seismic shifts? (6-8)

Answer: GROUND-BREAKING. Solution satisfies “pioneering” and is a possible result of “seismic shifts”.

10. Prayer a shade beneath king, it’s said (7)

Answer: AVERRED (i.e. “said”). Solution is AVE (i.e. “prayer”) and RED (i.e. “a shade”) once it has been placed “beneath” R (i.e. “king”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “Rex”), this being a down clue, like so: AVE-(R)-RED. One of those words I would have spelled with a single R, which shows what I know.

11. Would Trappist’s thoughts be so shocking? (11)

Answer: UNSPEAKABLE (i.e. “shocking”). Solution riffs on how Trappist monks have sworn a vow of silence. I rather liked this one when I got it.

12. Lookers ultimately attractive, I agree (4)

Answer: EYES (i.e. “lookers”). Solution is E (i.e. “ultimately attractive”, i.e. the last letter of “attractive”) followed by YES (i.e. “I agree”).

17. County, an outstanding place – that’s about right (8)

Answer: SOMERSET (i.e. “county”). Solution is SOME (i.e. “outstanding”, as in “that’s some dungeon you’ve got there, Mr Poll”) and SET (i.e. “[to] place”) both placed “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: SOME-(R)-SET.

19. Fish in the Seine, perhaps, labouring here and there? (9)

Answer: FREELANCE (i.e. “labouring here and there”). Solution is EEL (i.e. “fish”) placed in FRANCE (i.e. “in the Seine, perhaps” – taken in the context of the clue, our fishy friend could find himself in France), like so: FR(EEL)ANCE.

22. Happy sound from sty came first (8)

Answer: GRUNTLED (i.e. “happy”). Solution is GRUNT (i.e. “sound from sty” as in the sound a pig makes) followed by LED (i.e. “came first”). The word was coined by P.G. Wodehouse in The Code of the Woosters: “…I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled”. One of my all-time favourite Wodehouse lines, though the fact the word is now recognised in the dictionary spoils the joke a tad!

25. Nation a little upset about public hangings at first – sentence noted? (8)

Answer: ANTIPHON, which is alternate chanting or singing (i.e. “sentence [musically] noted”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “a little upset”) wrapped “about” P and H (i.e. “public hangings at first”, i.e. the first letters of “public” and “hangings”), like so: ANTI(PH)ON. Another repeat, which made this an easier get than was perhaps envisaged.

26. Like flies in soup, tired swimming (9)

Answer: DIPTEROUS, which describes an insect or fly with two wings (i.e. “like flies”). “Swimming” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SOUP TIRED. This was a brute force job once I had the first three intersecting letters.

27. Linen dry, then wet – messy practice? (6-8)

Answer: TOILET-TRAINING (i.e. “messy practice”). Solution is TOILE (i.e. “linen” – chalk one to my Bradford’s here) followed by TT (i.e. “dry”, being a recognised abbreviation of “teetotal”) and RAINING (i.e. “wet”).

28. Height of water almost entirely maintained by raising of flood barriers (3,5)

Answer: SEA LEVEL (i.e. “height of water”). Solution is ALL (i.e. “entirely”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and placed in or “maintained by” LEVEES (i.e. “flood barriers”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “raising of”), like so: SE(AL)EVEL. A clue that scans rather well.

31. Something explosive brewing? (9,3)

Answer: GUNPOWDER TEA. Yes, it does exist. Clue riffs on how gunpowder is an “explosive”. This was another recent repeat, disappointingly, which made for an easy get.

33. Launch proposal after group elected (3,2,6)

Answer: SET IN MOTION (i.e. “launch”). Solution is MOTION (i.e. “proposal”) placed “after” SET (i.e. “group”) and IN (i.e. “elected”).

36. Wrinkly old nan, later slowing down (11)

Answer: RALLENTANDO (i.e. “[music] slowing down”). “Wrinkly” indicates anagram. Solution is anagram of OLD NAN LATER. Chalk one to my Bradford’s. The anagram indicator was obvious but, as with the thousands of musical terms out there, you either know them or don’t.

37. Every quarter covered by British writers (10)

Answer: BALLPOINTS (i.e. “writers”). Solution is ALL POINTS (i.e. “every quarter”) preceded or “covered by” – this being a down clue – B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”).

41. English invading, native American quick to recoil in horror (9)

Answer: SQUEAMISH (i.e. “quick to recoil in horror”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) placed in or “invading” SQUAMISH (i.e. “native American”, specifically the not-quite-four-thousand indigenous Squamish people of British Colombia in Canada, as opposed to the not-quite-seven-thousand indigenous Suquamish people of Washington state a bit further down – I bet they’re forever getting each other’s mail), like so: SQU(E)AMISH.

42. Brief rest might lift God (5,3)

Answer: POWER NAP (i.e. “brief rest”). Solution is POWER (i.e. “might”) followed by PAN (i.e. “God”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “lift”, this being a down clue).

44. Number fed by service industry initially, then one stops (7)

Answer: TERMINI (i.e. “stops”). Solution is TEN (i.e. “number”) wrapped around or “fed by” RM (a recognised abbreviation of Royal Marines, i.e. “service”) and I (i.e. “industry initially”, i.e. the first letter of “industry”). The whole is then followed by another I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: TE(RM-I)N-I.

46. Nonsense incarcerating extremists in gulag, I mean (7)

Answer: PIGGISH (i.e. “mean”). Solution is PISH (i.e. “nonsense”) wrapped around or “incarcerating” GG (i.e. “extremists in gulag”, i.e. the first and last letters of “gulag”) and I, like so: PI(GG-I)SH.

48. Expedition leader heading for Russia in essence (6)

Answer: Vitus BERING (i.e. “expedition leader”). Solution is R (i.e. “heading for Russia”, i.e. the first letter of “Russia”) placed “in” BEING (i.e. “essence”), like so: BE(R)ING.

50. Rival in gym energetically doing a backflip (5)

Answer: ENEMY (i.e. “rival”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “doing a backflip” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: G(YM ENE)RGETICALLY.

51. On playing out the Alamo, heads raised (4)

Answer: ATOP (i.e. “on”). “Heads” indicates the solution is derived by the initial letters of PLAYING OUT THE ALAMO, while “raised” indicates those initial letters are reversed, this being a down clue.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1397

Back in the saddle again, so let’s catch up a little. Here’s my completed grid for Saturday’s puzzle along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. A mixed-bag this: a mostly straightforward affair (my kind of speed) but with a couple of markedly tough clues thrown in. A couple of repeats also spoiled things a smidge.

Before we get down to it, a spot of housekeeping. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic which has left you stumped then you might get some joy from my Just For Fun page. If you have a hankering for horror fiction then I’ve a few odds and sods in my Reviews page. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 9 up once I’ve gotten up to speed.

In the meantime, solutions. Enjoy, and I’ll see you in a bit.


Across clues

1. Father occupying lively Roman Catholic office (6)

Answer: PAPACY (i.e. “Roman Catholic office”). Solution is PA (i.e. “father”) placed in or “occupying” PACY (i.e. “lively”), like so: PA(PA)CY.

4. Spurious damage, first to last, will have you embarrassed (10)

Answer: SHAMEFACED (i.e. “embarrassed”). Solution is SHAM (i.e. “spurious”) followed by DEFACE (i.e. “damage”) once its initial letter has been placed at the end (indicated by “first to last”), like so: SHAM-EFACED.

10. Forecaster is backing Times line (5)

Answer: SIBYL, which is a female oracle or prophet from ye olde times (i.e. “forecaster”). Solution is IS reversed (indicated by “backing”) and then followed by BY (i.e. “Times”, as in multiplication – ignore the misleading capitalisation) then L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”), like so: SI-BY-L.

14. Not initially allowed to interrupt dispersal of halon? It’s not going to kill anyone (3-6)

Answer: NON-LETHAL (i.e. “it’s not going to kill anyone”). Solution is N (i.e. “not initially”, i.e. the first letter of “not”) and LET (i.e. “allowed”) both placed in or “interrupting” an anagram (indicated by “dispersal”) of HALON, like so: NO(N-LET)HAL.

15. Young fellow bound to have smart range of knowledge (6,7)

Answer: SPRING CHICKEN (i.e. “young fellow”). Solution is SPRING (i.e. “bound”, as in to leap) followed by CHIC (i.e. “smart”) and KEN (i.e. “range of knowledge”).

16. A doctor will accept present disciple (7)

Answer: ADHERER (i.e. “disciple”). Solution is A followed by DR (a recognised abbreviation of “doctor”) wrapped around or “accepting” HERE (i.e. “present”), like so: A-D(HERE)R.

17. Excessive, on reflection, to embrace that woman with ecstasy in addition (7)

Answer: THERETO (i.e. “in addition”). Solution is OTT (i.e. “excessive”, being a recognised abbreviation of “over the top”) reversed (indicated by “on reflection”) and wrapped around or “embracing” HER (i.e. “that woman”) and E (a recognised abbreviation of “ecstasy”), like so: T(HER-E)TO.

18. No turning back, engaged in troop movement for King? (7)

Answer: MONARCH (i.e. “king”). Solution is NO reversed (indicated by “turning back”) and placed in or “engaged” by MARCH (i.e. “troop movement”), like so: M(ON)ARCH.

19. Stuff in computer mars democracy – omens looking bad (6,6,6)

Answer: RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (i.e. “stuff in computer” – basically what a computer uses to keep stuff in its head while switched on). “Looking bad” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MARS DEMOCRACY OMENS.

21. Stage return of favourite items (4)

Answer: STEP (i.e. “stage”). Solution is PETS (i.e. “favourite items”) reversed (indicated by “return of”).

24. Doctor, one avoiding study of something in dentistry (5)

Answer: MOLAR (i.e. “something in dentistry”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) followed by LAIR (i.e. “study”, as in a den) with the I removed (indicated by “one avoiding”), like so: MO-LAR.

26. Dull information’s about old features of castle? (8)

Answer: DUNGEONS (i.e. “features of castle”). Solution is DUN (i.e. “dull”, as in gloomy and dingy) followed by GEN’S (i.e. “information’s”) once it has been placed “about” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: DUN-GE(O)NS.

27. American treated privately (2,6)

Answer: IN CAMERA (i.e. “privately”). “Treated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AMERICAN.

29. Difference after electrical failure? Don’t give full details (5-6)

Answer: SHORT-CHANGE (i.e. “don’t give full details”). Solution is CHANGE (i.e. “difference”) which is placed “after” SHORT (i.e. “electrical failure”).

30. Sender of information runs into TV playwright (11)

Answer: TELEPRINTER (i.e. “sender of information”). Solution is TELE (i.e. “TV”, both shortened forms of “television”) and Harold PINTER (i.e. “playwright”) once it has been wrapped around R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in various ball games), like so: TELE-P(R)INTER.

32. Example of a shift in thinking? (11)

Answer: TELEKINESIS. Clue riffs on how telekinesis is the supposed power to move or “shift” things using thought alone. We’ve all tried this with the TV remote, right?

35. Woman capturing mole before long in artistic medium (6-5)

Answer: PAPIER-MACHE (i.e. “artistic medium”). Solution is PAM (i.e. “woman”) wrapped around or “capturing” PIER (i.e. “mole” – one of its umpteen definitions is “a massive breakwater, causeway or pier” – a new one on me, which isn’t saying much) and then followed by ACHE (i.e. “[to] long [for]”), like so: PA(PIER)M-ACHE.

37. Diver’s gold snaffled by a financial analyst (8)

Answer: AQUANAUT (i.e. “diver”). Solution is AU (chemical symbol of “gold”) placed in or “snaffled by” A QUANT (i.e. “a financial analyst”, though the financial crisis of 2008 may elicit a slightly different pronunciation from some), like so: A-QUAN(AU)T.

39. Get boost from facing the batting where the batsman stands (8)

Answer: INCREASE (i.e. “boost”). Solution is IN (i.e. “facing the batting” – a weird one, this, as I would argue if your side was “in” you’d be facing the bowling or pitching. Just me?) followed by CREASE (i.e. “where the batsman stands [in cricket]”).

40. Describing hooter or some siren as “alarm” (5)

Answer: NASAL (i.e. “describing hooter”, as in a nose). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: SIRE(N AS AL)ARM. A clue that scans rather well.

43. End product of, say, finishing-school, place that’s home to daughter (4)

Answer: LADY (i.e. “end product of, say, finishing-school”). Solution is LAY (i.e. “place”) wrapped around or “home to” D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”), like so: LA(D)Y.

44. Computer program misled, following topic embraced by arts graduates – this is a scientific discipline (7,11)

Answer: APPLIED MATHEMATICS (i.e. “this is a scientific discipline”). Solution is APP (i.e. “computer program”) followed by LIED (i.e. “misled”) and MAS (i.e. “arts graduates”, specifically Masters of Art) once it has been wrapped around or “embracing” THEMATIC (i.e. “topic”), like so: APP-LIED-MA(THEMATIC)S.

47. Still swaddled in former baby clothing (7)

Answer: LAYETTE (i.e. “baby clothing”). Solution is YET (i.e. “still”) placed or “swaddled in” LATE (i.e. “former”), like so: LA(YET)TE. An easier get thanks to it being a recent repeat.

48. US lawyer with a French degree initially on the ball? (7)

Answer: ATTUNED (i.e. “on the ball”). Solution is ATT (i.e. “US lawyer”, short for “attorney”) followed by UNE (i.e. “a French”, as in the feminine form of “a” in French) and D (i.e. “degree initially”, i.e. the first letter of “degree”).

50. Sporting boss, chap with a basic idea? Not entirely (7)

Answer: MANAGER (i.e. “sporting boss”). Solution is MAN (i.e. “chap”) followed by A then GERM (i.e. “basic idea”) once the final letter has been removed (indicated by “not entirely”), like so: MAN-A-GER.

51. Putting up with individual cordoning off street’s archaeological feature (8,5)

Answer: STANDING STONE (i.e. “archaeological feature”). Solution is STANDING (i.e. “putting up with”) and ONE (i.e. “individual”) wrapped around or “cordoning off” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: STANDING-(ST)-ONE.

52. Botanical trips I skipped involving a water vessel (5-4)

Answer: CANAL-BOAT (i.e. “water vessel”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “trips”) of BOTANICAL once the I has been removed (indicated by “I skipped”), which is then wrapped around or “involving” A, like so: C(A)NALBOAT.

53. Spoke, neglecting America, over the wireless (5)

Answer: RADIO (i.e. “the wireless”). Solution is RADIUS (i.e. “spoke”, as in the spokes on a bike wheel) with the US removed (indicated by “neglecting America”) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket), like so: RADI-O.

54. Protection for locks? Cheated about last of these four, perhaps (10)

Answer: HEADSQUARE (i.e. “protection for locks”, as in hair). This took some figuring, but the solution is HAD (i.e. “cheated”) wrapped “about” E (i.e. “last of these”, i.e. the last letter of “these”) and then followed by SQUARE (i.e. “four, perhaps”, being the square number 2×2), like so: H(E)AD-SQUARE.

55. Political party to welcome mostly opposing points (6)

Answer: GREENS (i.e. “political party”). Solution is GREET (i.e. “to welcome”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and followed by NS (i.e. “opposing points”, being North and South on a compass), like so: GREE-NS.

Down clues

1. Star shape to identify sheep behind fold (9)

Answer: PENTAGRAM (i.e. “star shape”). Solution is TAG (i.e. “identify”) and RAM (i.e. “sheep”) which are both placed “behind” PEN (i.e. “fold”), like so: PEN-TAG-RAM.

2. Historic theatrical character to strike O’Neill differently (11)

Answer: PUNCHINELLO, a “hook-nosed character in an Italian puppet show”, as my Chambers would have it (i.e. “historical theatrical character”). Solution is PUNCH (i.e. “to strike”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “differently”) of O-NEILL, like so: PUNCH-INELLO. Weirdly, one I knew!

3. See you offer support, with elevated call for attention (7)

Answer: CHEERIO (i.e. “see you”). Solution is CHEER (i.e. “offer support”) followed by OI (i.e. “call for attention”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “elevated” – this being a down clue), like so: CHEER-IO.

5. Menial worker much in demand around US railroad (5)

Answer: HELOT – again to my Chambers: “one of a class of serfs among the ancient Spartans, deliberately humiliated and liable to massacre”. Lovely. Anyway, “menial worker”. Solution is HOT (i.e. “much in demand”) wrapped around EL (an informal “US” term for an elevated “railroad” – Chambers to the rescue again here), like so: H(EL)OT. I got the HOT part but had to brute force the rest.

6. I observed series of clues curtailed in the writer’s approach to filming (4,2,5)

Answer: MISE EN SCENE, an “approach to filming” in which a static camera is used to capture all subjects of a scene with minimal cutting. Filming on the cheap, in other words. Anyway, the solution is I followed by SEEN (i.e. “observed”) and SCENT (i.e. “series of clues”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “curtailed”), all placed in ME (i.e. “the writer”, from the perspective of the setter), like so: M(I-SEEN-SCEN)E.

7. Fashion workers enthralled by child’s flower (6-2-3)

Answer: FORGET-ME-NOT (i.e. “flower”). Solution is FORGE (i.e. “[to] fashion”) followed by MEN (i.e. “workers”) once it has been placed inside or “enthralled by” TOT (i.e. “child”), like so: FORGE-T(MEN)OT.

8. Fail to study everything around start of McGill’s first course? (8)

Answer: CONSOMME (i.e. “first course”). Solution is CON SOME (i.e. “fail to study everything” – CON is another word for “study” often used by setters in their clues, so if you’ve failed to study everything you can be said to have only CON[NED] SOME. You get the idea), wrapped “around” M (i.e. “start of McGill”, i.e. the first letter of “McGill”), like so: CON-SOM(M)E.

9. Many stories of French began around centre of Paris (9)

Answer: DECAMERON, “Boccaccio’s book of a hundred tales, supposed to be told in ten days” (Chambers again) (i.e. “many stories”). Solution is DE (i.e. “of French”, i.e. the French for “of”) followed by CAME ON (i.e. “began”) once it has been placed “around” R (i.e. “centre of Paris”, i.e. the middle letter of “Paris”), like so: DE-CAME(R)ON. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

10. Pub in elevated region having had little in the way of food? (6)

Answer: SKINNY (i.e. “had little in the way of food”). Solution is INN (i.e. “pub”) placed “in” SKY (i.e. “elevated region”), like so: SK(INN)Y.

11. One using oven’s ash, say, to get source of tar for road (5,6)

Answer: BAKER STREET (i.e. “road”). Solution is BAKER’S (i.e. “one using oven’s”) followed by TREE (i.e. “ash, say”) – the clue scans marginally better if you read those two parts together – and finished with T (i.e. “source of tar”, i.e. the first letter of “tar”), like so: BAKER’S-TREE-T.

12. Start to skip a meal (5)

Answer: LUNCH (i.e. “meal”). Solution is LAUNCH (i.e. “start”) with the A removed (indicated by “to skip a”).

13. Curiously, not the opposite of “here and now” (5,3,4)

Answer: THERE AND THEN. Clue cleverly shows how taking the opposites of “here and now” gets you “there and then”, which means the same thing. Best clue for a while. Like it.

20. Unknown writer is entering church to add to sacred list (8)

Answer: CANONISE (i.e. “add to sacred list”). Solution is ANON (i.e. “unknown writer”) and IS placed in or “entering” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: C(ANON-IS)E.

22. Plain attitude that is supporting promotional work (7)

Answer: PRAIRIE (i.e. “plain”). Solution is AIR (i.e. “attitude”, e.g. as in airs and graces) and IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. …um… “i.e.”) placed underneath or “supporting” (this being a down clue) PR (i.e. “promotional work”, being a recognised abbreviation of “press release”), like so: PR-AIR-IE.

23. Half like being overwhelmed by Dutch sailor’s charm (8)

Answer: TALISMAN (i.e. “charm”). Bloody hell, the solution was fairly easy but parsing it took for-fudging-ever! The solution is LI (i.e. “half like”, specifically the first half) placed in or “overwhelmed by” Abel TASMAN, a 17th century Dutch explorer (i.e. “Dutch sailor” – nope, me neither), like so: TA(LI)SMAN. One of those lucky “chuck TASMAN into Google and see what happens” moments. Eventually.

25. Again catching great plays about family (8)

Answer: RETAKING (i.e. “again catching”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “plays”) of GREAT placed “about” KIN (i.e. “family”) like so: RETA(KIN)G.

28. Disrespectful cheek – fine to gasp about that (8)

Answer: FLIPPANT (i.e. “disrespectful”). Solution is LIP (i.e. “cheek”, as in impertinence) with F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used in grading pencils) and PANT (i.e. “to gasp”) placed “about that”, like so: F-(LIP)-PANT.

29. Leave port: prepares beer when speaking (3,4)

Answer: SET SAIL (i.e. “leave port”). “When speaking” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SETS (i.e. “prepares”) and ALE (i.e. “beer”).

31. Decide in advance animal at home should possess brightly-coloured fur (12)

Answer: PREDETERMINE (i.e. “decide in advance”). Solution is PET (i.e. “animal at home”) wrapped around or “possessing” RED (i.e. “brightly-coloured”) and followed by ERMINE (i.e. “fur”) like so: P(RED)ET-ERMINE.

33. Ruddy animal upset cleaner (7-4)

Answer: LAUNDRY-MAID (i.e. “cleaner”). “Upset” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RUDDY ANIMAL.

34. Aware I ignored reminders to pay, in brief (11)

Answer: SENTENTIOUS (i.e. “in brief”, as in concise and full of meaning). Solution is SENTIENT (i.e. “aware”) with the I removed (indicated by “I ignored”) and followed by IOUS (i.e. “reminders to pay”), like so: SENTENT-IOUS.

35. Alcoholic drink and non-alcoholic drink consumed by soccer team in the case (11)

Answer: PORTMANTEAU (i.e. “case”, as in a large travelling bag). Solution is PORT (i.e. “alcoholic drink”) followed by TEA (i.e. “non-alcoholic drink”) once it has been placed inside or “consumed by” MAN U (i.e. “soccer team”, specifically Manchester United), like so: PORT-MAN(TEA)U.

36. Actors against entering bar? Last of troupe is the decider (7,4)

Answer: CASTING VOTE (i.e. “decider”). Another one that took some figuring, this, but the solution is CAST (i.e. “actors”) followed by V (i.e. “against”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “versus”) once it has been placed in or “entered” into INGOT (i.e. “bar”), and the whole then followed by E (i.e. “last of troupe”, i.e. the last letter of “troupe”), like so: CAST-ING(V)OT-E.

38. Put the men to work well down the order (9)

Answer: UMPTEENTH (i.e. “well down the order”). “To work” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PUT THE MEN.

41. Girl accepting uninspired services at the end (4,5)

Answer: LAST RITES (i.e. “the end”). Solution is LASS (i.e. “girl”) wrapped around or “accepting” TRITE (i.e. “uninspired”), like so: LAS(TRITE)S.

42. Everyone on boats needing directional assistance? (3,2,3)

Answer: ALL AT SEA. Solution satisfies “everyone on boats” and “needing directional assistance”.

45. Set aside half of area in the shape of a ring (7)

Answer: ANNULAR (i.e. “the shape of a ring”). Solution is ANNUL (i.e. “set aside” – one of the meanings of the phrase is to cancel something) followed by AR (i.e. “half of area”, specifically the first half), like so: ANNUL-AR.

46. Boss, one beginning to operate film company (6)

Answer: STUDIO (i.e. “film company”). Solution is STUD (i.e. “boss”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and O (i.e. “beginning to operate”, i.e. the first letter of “operate”).

47. Beam, having upheld most of later transaction (5)

Answer: LASER (i.e. “beam”). Solution is RESALE (i.e. “later transaction”) reversed (indicated by “upheld”, this being a down clue) and its final letter E removed (indicated by “most of”).

49. Staff upset about city scenery (5)

Answer: DÉCOR (i.e. “scenery”). Solution is ROD (i.e. “staff”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, again this being a down clue) and wrapped “about” EC (i.e. “city” – specifically the post code area for the City of London, for the 90+% of the UK who live outside of the M25), like so: D(EC)OR.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1396

Note: I won’t be in a position to post solutions for the next couple of grids because lager + Bank Holiday + more lager. I’ll buy the papers and see how I get on once the DTs fade.

This was a puzzle that rather outstayed its welcome. I can appreciate the cleverness of some of the clues now that the dust has settled, but towards the end this was beginning to get on my nerves, which rather sapped the fun. Still, I think I got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

As ever with these things, a spot of housekeeping before we begin. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s looking a little gappy then you might be interested in my Just For Fun page. If book reviews float your boat then I have a few of them too. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 9 up shortly. Well, shortly-ish.

And now, our feature presentation. Laters.


Across clues

1. Asian deity placed river by a river in Asia (11)

Answer: BRAHMAPUTRA (i.e. “a river in Asia”. A big ‘un too, by all accounts.) Solution is BRAHMA, the Hindu Creator god (i.e. “Asian deity”) followed by PUT (i.e. “placed”) then R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) and finally A, like so: BRAHMA-PUT-R-A. Chalk one to my Bradford’s here, as there are several hundred thousand rivers out there I’ve never heard of.

7. Battle line’s cut in retreat (6)

Answer: FLIGHT (i.e. “retreat”). Solution is FIGHT (i.e. “battle”) with L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) “cut in” like so: F(L)IGHT.

10. With Bill following, say “I’m shocked!” (4)

Answer: EGAD (i.e. “I’m shocked!”). Solution is AD (i.e. “bill”, as in a shortened form of “advertisement” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) which is placed behind or “following” EG (i.e. “say”, as in for example), like so: EG-AD. Yes, I immediately thought of Pinky and the Brain when I got this. I am a massive child. (Thumbs nose and sticks out tongue.)

14. Worry for each kind of wine knocked back (7)

Answer: PERTURB (i.e. “worry”). Solution is PER (i.e. “for each”) followed by BRUT (i.e. “kind of wine”) reversed or “knocked back”, like so: PER-TURB.

15. Set off, with a way to cross river (7)

Answer: AROUSED (i.e. “set off”, as in to trigger rather than to launch). Solution is A followed by RD (i.e. “way”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “road”) once it has been wrapped around or “crossing” OUSE (i.e. “river”), like so: A-R(OUSE)D.

16. Steward to go off, returning on time for resolution (7)

Answer: JANITOR (i.e. “steward”). Solution is ROT (i.e. “to go off”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and placed behind JAN I (i.e. “time for resolution”, as in New Year’s Day), like so: JAN-I-TOR.

17. Secretly touring some countries in wild fashion (13)

Answer: INCONTINENTLY (i.e. “in wild fashion” – I mean, it’s one way to describe it, I guess). Solution is INLY (i.e. “secretly” – it’s one way to describe it, I guess) wrapped around or “touring” CONTINENT (i.e. “some countries”), like so: IN(CONTINENT)LY.

18. Service dispatched, carrying ace stuff (9)

Answer: SACRAMENT (i.e. “service”, as in a ceremony). Solution is SENT (i.e. “dispatched”) wrapped around or “carrying” A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” used on playing cards) and CRAM (i.e. “[to] stuff”), like so: S(A-CRAM)ENT.

19. House staff do twirls (5)

Answer: TUDOR (i.e. “house”, as in the dynasty of kings and queens who ruled England, Ireland and Wales between 1485 and 1603). Solution is ROD (i.e. “staff”) and UT (i.e. “do”, as in the musical note “do” or “doh”. Once upon a time this used to be “ut”, it says here), which are both reversed (indicated by “twirls”), like so: TU-DOR. One of those clues where you get the solution fairly easily and then spend ages trying to figure out what on earth the setter was playing at.

21. In the main, it’s outstanding publicity with name on the right (10)

Answer: PROMONTORY (i.e. “in the main, it’s outstanding” – setters love using “main” to mean the sea, and a promontory is a headland or cape that juts out into the sea). Not quite sure about this one, so watch out. I get that PR is “publicity”, being a recognised abbreviation of “press release”, and “on the right” gets you ON TORY (as in the right-leaning Conservative Party) but the OM bit leaves me cold. It’s a recognised abbreviation of Order of Merit, perhaps, but that’s more a title than a name. Maybe the setter is playing fast and loose here, which wouldn’t be an isolated case. Ah, sod it, I’m moving on.
[EDIT: A big thank you to Tommy in the comments for clarifying this one. Publicity is PROMO, not PR as I had it. Then you have N (a recognised abbreviation for “name”) and finally TORY (for “the right”). Argh! It looks so simple seeing it written down! 😀 – LP]

23. Jet circles area, quiet or loud? (6)

Answer: FLASHY (i.e. “loud”). Solution is FLY (i.e. “[to] jet”) wrapped around or “circling” A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) and SH (i.e. “quiet”), like so: FL(A-SH)Y.

25. Without hesitation, making free drink (8)

Answer: LIBATION (i.e. “drink”). Solution is LIBERATION (i.e. “making free”) with the ER removed (indicated by “without hesitation”).

26. Power to hurt a biologist, not European chemist (14)

Answer: PHARMACOLOGIST (i.e. “chemist”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) followed by HARM (i.e. “to hurt”) then A and then ECOLOGIST (i.e. “biologist”) once the initial E has been removed (indicated by “not European”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”), like so: P-HARM-A-COLOGIST.

29. One’s very sharp at English exam, amazingly (7)

Answer: MEATAXE (i.e. “one’s very sharp”. One is also a hyphenated word in my dictionary, but there you go). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “amazingly”) of AT EXAM and E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

30. Hopeless sort of computer game is included in trial (9)

Answer: PESSIMIST (i.e. “hopeless sort”). Solution is SIM (i.e. “sort of computer game”, e.g. a flight simulator) and IS placed or “included in” PEST (i.e. “trial” – the setter has gone deep into the definitions here, but a trial can be a pest or nuisance), like so: PES(SIM-IS)T.

31. Possessing urge, laugh? This creature might (5)

Answer: HYENA (i.e. “this creature might [laugh]”). Solution is YEN (i.e. “urge”) which is placed in or “possessed” by HA (i.e. “laugh”), like so: H(YEN)A.

32. Filling of jam, plenty or enough? (5)

Answer: AMPLE (i.e. “enough”). “Filling of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: J(AM PLE)NTY.

34. Like certain characters in drug affair (5,4)

Answer: UPPER CASE (i.e. “like certain characters”). Solution is UPPER (i.e. “drug”) followed by CASE (i.e. “affair”).

37. Recover or recovered like books? (7)

Answer: REBOUND (i.e. “recover”). Solution also riffs on how books are bound in covers, so if they are re-covered, they are re-bound. Best clue of the puzzle. Very well played.

39. Caring too much to evict and reprove criminal (14)

Answer: OVERPROTECTIVE (i.e. “caring too much”). “Criminal” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO EVICT and REPROVE.

41. Fashionably petite and fit one, that Parisian (8)

Answer: BOUTIQUE (i.e. “fashionably petite”). Solution is BOUT (i.e. “fit”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and QUE (i.e. “that Parisian”, i.e. the French for “that”).

43. Feel anger for one half of match, we hear? (6)

Answer: BRIDLE (i.e. “feel anger”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of BRIDAL (i.e. “one half of match” or marriage).

44. Rock star isn’t in school (2,8)

Answer: ST TRINIANS (i.e. fictitious boarding “school” created by Ronald Searle – I used to love the old St Trinians movies back when I was even more of a massive child than I am today). “Rock” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of STAR ISNT IN.

45. Follow is about right for this (5)

Answer: TRAIL. The clue riffs on how TAIL and TRAIL both satisfy “follow”, and how wrapping the former “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) will get you the latter. You get the idea.

48. Government supporter in charge, in fact (9)

Answer: STATISTIC (i.e. “fact”). Solution is STATIST (i.e. “government supporter”) followed by IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”).

49. Stepping on court game’s dividing lines (6,7)

Answer: DOUBLE SPACING (i.e. “[gaps] dividing lines”). Solution is PACING (i.e. “stepping”) placed after or “on” DOUBLES (i.e. “[tennis] court game”).

51. Bow’s straight with recording for a dance (3-4)

Answer: ONE-STEP (i.e. “dance”). Solution is HONEST (i.e. “straight”) with the initial H removed (indicated by “Bow”, referring to how Cockneys drop their aitches – Cockneys are those born within earshot of Bow Bells) and followed by EP (i.e. “recording”, specifically an Extended Play single), like so: ONEST-EP.

52. Youngster redeveloping the London borough (7)

Answer: LAMBETH (i.e. “London borough”). Solution is LAMB (i.e. “youngster”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “redeveloping”) of THE, like so: LAMB-ETH.

53. Desire this person has to be caustic (7)

Answer: EROSIVE (i.e. “to be caustic”). Solution is EROS (i.e. “desire [is] this person”) followed by I’VE (i.e. “has”).

54. It’s formed by a group of signatories? (4)

Answer: NATO (i.e. “it’s formed by a group [of countries]”). “Of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, likes so: SIG(NATO)RIES.

55. Caught fabric in drawer (6)

Answer: CRAYON (i.e. “drawer”, as in something used to draw stuff). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in ball games) followed by RAYON (i.e. “fabric”).

56. Person seeking return in cattle pen (11)

Answer: STOCKHOLDER. Solution satisfies “person seeking return [on investment]” and “cattle pen”, as in a STOCK HOLDER.

Down clues

1. Maybe John’s fitting in again, given time (7)

Answer: BAPTIST (i.e. “maybe John”, as in John the Baptist). Solution is APT (i.e. “fitting”) placed “in” BIS (i.e. “again” – in musical lingo this indicates a section is to be repeated) and then followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: B(APT)IS-T.

2. Enchanting remark from a villain wearing a pair of undergarments (11)

Answer: ABRACADABRA (i.e. “enchanting remark”). Solution is CAD (i.e. “villain”) that is surrounded by or “wearing” “a pair of” A BRA (i.e. “undergarment”), like so: A-BRA-(CAD)-A-BRA.

3. Think of the late or early period in speech (5)

Answer: MOURN (i.e. “think of the late” – late being a way of describing someone who is deceased). “In speech” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of MORN (i.e. “early period”).

4. Clip up court robes if high official there (6,10)

Answer: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR (i.e. “[court] official”). “If high” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLIP UP COURT ROBES.

5. Landed up penning composer’s moving account? (8)

Answer: TRAVELOG (i.e. “account”). Solution is GOT (i.e. “landed”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and placed around or “penning” Maurice RAVEL (i.e. “composer” best known for his work, Bolero), like so: T(RAVEL)OG.

6. Addresses a set of lines in mail briefly (11)

Answer: APOSTROPHES (i.e. “addresses”, or, as my Chambers has it, “a sudden turning away from the ordinary course of a speech to address some person or object present or absent”. Not a definition that sprang to mind, but I like it.) Solution is A then STROPHE (i.e. “a set of lines” – off to my Chambers again: a strophe is “(in a Greek play) the song sung by the chorus as it moved to one side, answered by an exact counterpart”. So there you go) once it has been placed “in” POST (i.e. “mail”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) like so: A-PO(STROPHE)S. A clue that scans rather well once you take a step back from it.

7. Suspect roughly apprehended in case of felony (5)

Answer: FISHY (i.e. “suspect”). Solution is ISH (i.e. “roughly”) placed in or “apprehended” by FY (i.e. “case of felony”, i.e. the first and last letters of “felony”), like so: F(ISH)Y.

8. Below River Test, one last character with lots of works? (14)

Answer: INDUSTRIALIZED (i.e. “with lots of works”). Solution is INDUS (i.e. Asian “river” and another big’ un) followed by TRIAL (i.e. “test” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ZED (i.e. “last character”), like so: INDUS-TRIAL-I-ZED. Clever, but as far as my patience was concerned, the river mini-theme had rather ran its course by this point, if you’ll forgive the pun.

9. “Hello, sailor” is appropriate (6)

Answer: HIJACK (i.e. to steal or “appropriate”). Solution is HI (i.e. “hello”) and JACK (i.e. one of many words meaning “sailor”). Another very neat clue. Well played.

11. Nearly go out and attack poor child (11)

Answer: GUTTERSNIPE (i.e. “poor child”). Solution is GUTTER (i.e. “nearly go out”) followed by SNIPE (i.e. “attack”).

12. Mimic US writer, an unknown Kansan (7)

Answer: DOROTHY (i.e. “Kansan”, specifically the main character of The Wizard of Oz). Solution is DO (i.e. “[to] mimic”) followed by Philip ROTH (i.e. “US writer” – an unwritten rule of the Times crossword is that people can only be used in clues or solutions so long as they are dead. This means setters have clues lined up for future use in much the same way as newspaper editors have pre-prepared obituaries. That’s nice, isn’t it?) and finally Y (i.e. “unknown” – setters love using this to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions), like so: DO-ROTH-Y.

13. Fashionable label brought back maybe crude design (8)

Answer: INTAGLIO, which is a figure or “design” cut into any substance. Solution is IN (i.e. “fashionable”) followed by TAG (i.e. “label”) and OIL (i.e. “maybe crude”) which is reversed (indicated by “brought back”), like so: IN-TAG-LIO. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

20. Artist to draw depressing image of existence (3,4)

Answer: RAT RACE (i.e. “depressing image of existence”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by TRACE (i.e. “to draw”).

22. I’m grateful to get recurrent pain in bones (5)

Answer: TARSI (i.e. “bones”, as in the plural of tarsus). Solution is TA (i.e. “I’m grateful”) followed by RSI (i.e. “recurrent pain”, specifically Repetitive Strain Injury).

24. Hospital worker puts up with wood that’s cut (11,5)

Answer: PORTERHOUSE STEAK (i.e. “cut [of meat]”). Solution is PORTER (i.e. “hospital worker”) followed by HOUSES (i.e. “puts up”) and TEAK (i.e. “wood”). As repeats go, this is a doozie. Not only did the same solution appear back in puzzle 1375 but it used the exact same wordplay in its construction (then the clue was “worker at lodge stores wood and food”) and was placed in the exact same position of a grid that used the exact same layout. Quick! Somebody call the Fortean Times! #Sarcasm

25. Smoker to get over source of discomfort (7)

Answer: LUMBAGO (i.e. “source of discomfort”). Solution is LUM, a Scottish word for a chimney (i.e. “smoker” – this word was fresh in my mind having also made an appearance in last week’s puzzle) followed by BAG (i.e. “to get”) and O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket).

27. Time to move inelegantly in pants (7)

Answer: TWADDLE (i.e. rubbish or “pants”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) followed by WADDLE (i.e. “to move inelegantly”).

28. I collect PayPal transfers in fury (14)

Answer: APOPLECTICALLY (i.e. “in fury”). “Transfers” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I COLLECT PAYPAL.

31. Home cover’s included fairly (7)

Answer: HABITAT (i.e. “home”). Solution is HAT (i.e. “cover”) wrapped around or “including” A BIT (i.e. “fairly”), like so: H(A-BIT)AT.

33. The last word in divine pickle (11)

Answer: PREDICAMENT (i.e. a sticky situation or “pickle”). Solution is AMEN (i.e. “the last word”) placed “in” PREDICT (i.e. “[to] divine”), like so: PREDIC(AMEN)T.

35. Judge turned up on pitch (5)

Answer: RATER (i.e. “judge”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on” or regarding something – think email replies) and TAR (i.e. “pitch”) both reversed or “turned up”, this being a down clue, like so: RAT-ER.

36. Leader of air force about to release bold lady (11)

Answer: ADVENTURESS (i.e. “bold lady”). Solution is A (i.e. “leader of air”, i.e. the first letter of “air”) and DURESS (i.e. “force”) wrapped “about” VENT (i.e. “to release”), like so: A-D(VENT)URESS.

38. Quail if nude modelling without right attributes (11)

Answer: UNQUALIFIED (i.e. “without right attributes”). “Modelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUAIL IF NUDE. A clue that scans rather well.

40. Moderate starter of pâté the only thing I consumed (8)

Answer: PALLIATE (i.e. “moderate”). Solution is P (i.e. “starter of pâté”, i.e. the first letter of “pâté”) followed by ALL (i.e. “the only thing”, as in “that is all”) then I and ATE (i.e. “consumed”).

42. Blasted husband loves making a fuss (8)

Answer: BALLYHOO (i.e. “a fuss”). Solution is BALLY (i.e. “blasted”, if you were Bertie Wooster, maybe) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and OO (i.e. “loves”, as in two zeroes – “love” being a zero score in tennis).

43. One’s blown bonus eating goose (7)

Answer: BASSOON (i.e. “one’s blown”). Solution is BOON (i.e. “bonus”) wrapped around or “eating” ASS (i.e. “goose”, both words for a fool), like so: B(ASS)OON. Now I’m proofreading this, I can’t believe I wrote “eating ASS” just then and didn’t snigger like… well, like a massive child. Which I am doing now, obviously.

46. Clothing on show (7)

Answer: LEGWEAR (i.e. “clothing”). Solution is LEG (i.e. the “on” side in cricket) followed by WEAR (i.e. “[to] show”).

47. Proust novel’s dull quality (6)

Answer: STUPOR (i.e. “dull quality”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PROUST.

49. Legendary friend, one who wanders up (5)

Answer: DAMON (i.e. “legendary friend” – this refers to the legend of Damon and Pythias which illustrates the Pythagorean ideal of friendship. No, me neither). Solution is NOMAD (i.e. “one who wanders”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue). One I got from the wordplay, clearly.

50. A couple of leaves, or as many as you want (1,4)

Answer: A GOGO. Solution satisfies “a couple of leaves”, as in A GO and GO, and “as many as you want”.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1395

An easier time of it this week, though there were still a few exotic solutions to keep things spicy. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As ever, a spot of housekeeping first. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that has left you baffled in some way, then you might find my Just For Fun page a fine place to visit. If you like reading more than just crossword solutions, however, then I have a few book reviews that might interest you too.

Right. On with the show. I’m writing this via 4g as my broadband has packed in, so I’d better be quick before my phone melts through the chair arm.


Across clues

1. Large American plane for one going across to fight China (10)

Answer: LUSTREWARE, which is pottery that has a metal glaze (i.e. “china” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) followed by US (i.e. “American”) and TREE (i.e. “plane”, specifically any tree of the genus Planatus, it says here. I remembered this usage from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest) which is wrapped around or “going across” WAR (i.e. “to fight”), like so: L-US-TRE(WAR)E. “For one” is strangely redundant, so I might not have this fully right.

6. Doctor retries oxide brought out in surgery (12)

Answer: EXTERIORISED, which is to temporarily bring an internal part outside of the body (i.e. “brought out in surgery”). “Doctor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RETRIES OXIDE.

14. Refined data Peg left (7)

Answer: GENTEEL (i.e. “refined”). Solution is GEN (i.e. “data”) followed by TEE (i.e. “peg” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

15. Bland genus of flowers filling image (7)

Answer: PROSAIC (i.e. “bland”). Solution is ROSA (i.e. “genus of flowers”) placed inside or “filling” PIC (i.e. “image”), like so: P(ROSA)IC. Got this mainly thanks to the same solution featuring in last week’s grid.

16. Replacement players cave in (7)

Answer: SUBSIDE (i.e. “cave in”). Solution is SUB (i.e. “replacement”, specifically short for substitute) followed by SIDE (i.e. “players”).

17. Tread on this very tender part, recoiling (4)

Answer: TYRE (i.e. “[there’s] tread on this”). “Part” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “recoiling” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: V(ERY T)ENDER.

18. Writer taking in street cafe (6)

Answer: BISTRO (i.e. “cafe”). Solution is BIRO (i.e. “writer”, as in the brand of pen) wrapped around or “taking in” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: BI(ST)RO.

20. None more vicious than this violent strife besetting church (8)

Answer: FIERCEST (i.e. “none more vicious than this”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “violent”) of STRIFE wrapped around or “besetting” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically Church of England), like so: FIER(CE)ST.

24. Behind curtain, nasty yob nabs red flag? No flipping wonder! (7,7,2,7)

Answer: HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON, one of the Seven “Wonders” of the World. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “nasty”) of YOB NABS RED FLAG followed by ON (i.e. “no flipping”, i.e. the word NO reversed) which are then both placed “behind” HANGING (i.e. “curtain”), like so: HANGING-GARDENSOFBABYL-ON.

25. I’m taking queen in for card game… (7)

Answer: PRIMERO (i.e. “card game” – not one I’m familiar with, which isn’t saying much). Solution is I’M and ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) placed “in” PRO (i.e. in favour of, or “for”), like so: PR(IM-ER)O.

26. …one completely spoiled for us (3,5)

Answer: ALL-FOURS (i.e. “one” – the ellipsis indicates we’re continuing the context of the previous clue, so we’re seeking another card game. And, no, I don’t know this one either!) Solution is ALL (i.e. “completely”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “spoiled”) of FOR US.

27. Quarters affected? Put up tents (6)

Answer: ENCAMP (i.e. “put up tents”). Solution is EN (i.e. “quarters”, as in two of the four points or “quarters” of a compass, in this case East and North) followed by CAMP (i.e. an “affected” manner).

29. Best-ever splitting logs? (6-8)

Answer: RECORD-BREAKING. Solution satisfies “best-ever” and, cryptically, “splitting logs”.

31. Cheeky bishop maybe who’s just gone up? (8)

Answer: FRESHMAN (i.e. “who’s just gone up” – “up” can mean “in residence at school or college”, which I faintly remembered from a previous puzzle. A freshman is a new entrant to a school or college.). Solution is FRESH (i.e. “cheeky”) followed by MAN (i.e. “bishop maybe”, referring to how chess pieces are sometimes referred to as men).

34. Prepare state offering (8)

Answer: DONATION (i.e. “offering”). Solution is DO (i.e. “prepare” – it’s in the dictionary, but I can’t immediately think of a sentence that uses the word in this way) followed by NATION (i.e. “state”).

36. Guide turned up with pedalo with few people (14)

Answer: UNDERPOPULATED (i.e. “with few people”). “Guide” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TURNED UP and PEDALO.

39. Talk roughly about female sailor (6)

Answer: CONFAB (i.e. “talk”, short for confabulation. Hands up anyone who uses “conflab” even though it’s not in the dictionary? Yup. Me too.) Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of circa, i.e. “roughly”) followed by ON (i.e. “about”, as in “this week’s blog post is on the latest Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword”), then F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and AB (i.e. “sailor”, specifically one that is Able-Bodied), like so: C-ON-F-AB.

41. He serenades Poles in joint with learner (8)

Answer: MINSTREL (i.e. “he serenades”). Solution is NS (i.e. “poles”, as in North and South) placed “in” MITRE (i.e. “joint” – a mitre joint is where two pieces of wood have a 45 degree edge so they help form a right-angle when put together) and then followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”), like so: MI(NS)TRE-L.

43. Again take in notice occupying authority (7)

Answer: READMIT (i.e. “again take in”). Solution is AD (i.e. “notice”, as in a short form of advertisement) placed in REMIT (i.e. “authority”), like so: RE(AD)MIT.

46. Economic rule from when industrialising flourished (3,2,11,7)

Answer: LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS (i.e. “economic rule”). “Flourished” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FROM WHEN INDUSTRIALISING.

47. Kissed noisily on mouth, touching chest (8)

Answer: PECTORAL (i.e. “touching chest”, as in the definition “of, for, on or near the breast or chest” rather than the muscle). Solution is PECT (i.e. “kissed noisily”, i.e. a homophone of PECKED) followed by ORAL (i.e. “mouth”).

48. Answer for each copper’s witty comment (6)

Answer: APERCU, which can mean an immediate intuitive insight (i.e. “witty comment” – I guess “wit” in this context means being clever as opposed to being funny). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer” as in Q&A) followed by PER (i.e. “for each”) and CU (chemical symbol of “copper”). One I got solely through the wordplay.

49. Hard going in wartime force for mule perhaps (4)

Answer: SHOE (i.e. “mule perhaps” – a variant definition of the word is a backless slipper or shoe). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) “going in” SOE (i.e. “wartime force”, specifically the Special Operations Executive) like so: S(H)OE. One of those where I said, “I wonder if a mule is a kind of shoe” and was happy to find it was. Doesn’t always happen like that.

53. Placate gorilla, say, feeding him vegetables (7)

Answer: APPEASE (i.e. “placate”). Solution is APE (i.e. “gorilla, say”) wrapped around or being “fed” by PEAS (i.e. “vegetables”), like so: AP(PEAS)E.

54. Gradually assimilating very big second sibling (7)

Answer: OSMOSIS (i.e. “gradually assimilating”). Solution is OS (i.e. “very big”, specifically a recognised abbreviation for “outsize”) followed by MO (i.e. “second”, as in a short form of the word “moment”) and SIS (i.e. “sibling”, as in a short form of “sister”).

56. Four abandoning calm standstill (7)

Answer: IMPASSE (i.e. “standstill”). Solution is IMPASSIVE (i.e. “calm”) with the IV removed (indicated by “[Roman numerals] four abandoning”).

57. Fight follows big birthday present under tree? (9,3)

Answer: CHRISTMAS BOX (i.e. “present under tree”). Solution is CHRISTMAS (i.e. “big birthday”) “followed” by BOX (i.e. “[to] fight”).

58. Reluctant to give way: sets new checks on income (5,5)

Answer: MEANS TESTS (i.e. “checks on income”). Solution is MEAN (i.e. miserly or “reluctant to give”) followed by ST (i.e. “way”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “street”) and then an anagram (indicated by “new”) of SETS, like so: MEAN-ST-ESTS.

Down clues

1. Main beacon illuminates joint (9)

Answer: LIGHTSHIP, which is a ship that acts like a lighthouse, i.e. “main beacon”. Setters love using “main” to mean the sea. Solution is LIGHTS (i.e. “illuminates”) followed by HIP (i.e. “joint”).

2. Cut stable brother resident in US port (3,10)

Answer: SAN FRANCISCAN (i.e. “resident in US port”). Solution is SANE (i.e. “stable”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “cut”) and then followed by FRANCISCAN (i.e. monk or “brother”).

3. Stench from burn about to disappear (4)

Answer: REEK (i.e. “stench”). Solution is CREEK (i.e. “burn”, as in a waterway) with the C removed (indicated by “about to disappear”, C being a recognised abbreviation of circa or “about”).

4. One of two confining the flanks at Waterloo? (10,4)

Answer: WELLINGTON BOOT. “One of two confining the flanks” – flanks are sides, which in this case are left and right. Your left and right feet can be “confined” in wellies. “Waterloo” refers to the Battle of Waterloo, in which the Duke of Wellington did alright. You get the idea.

5. Blame strike (3)

Answer: RAP. Solution satisfies “blame” – as in to take the rap for something – and “strike”.

7. Gunmen stop axes penetrating beam (1-3)

Answer: X-RAY (i.e. “beam”). Solution is XY (i.e. “axes” on a graph) wrapped around or being “penetrated” by RA (i.e. “gunmen”, specifically the Royal Artillery), like so: X(RA)Y.

8. Escape ceremony involving old Irish bureau (10)

Answer: ESCRITOIRE, which is a secretary desk or “bureau”. It’s a mishmash of desk, drawers and bookcase which obviously demanded its own word once upon a time. Solution is ESC (i.e. “escape” as in the Esc key on your keyboard) followed by RITE (i.e. “ceremony”) which is wrapped around or “involving” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and IR (i.e. ditto “Irish”), like so: ESC-RIT(O-IR)E. One I got from the wordplay and a quick shufti through my Chambers.

9. What chisellers do in bed in Home Counties? (8)

Answer: INSCRIBE (i.e. “what chisellers do”). Solution is IN followed by CRIB (i.e. “bed”) once it has been placed “in” SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, i.e. the South East of England) like so: IN-S(CRIB)E.

10. They secure Polish gangs seizing black ruler (6,5)

Answer: RUBBER BANDS (i.e. “they secure”). Solution is RUB (i.e. “polish” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and BANDS (i.e. “gangs”) wrapped around or “seizing” B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) and ER (i.e. “ruler”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: RUB-(B-ER)-BANDS.

11. I can still broadcast a little bit (9)

Answer: SCINTILLA (i.e. “a little bit”). “Broadcast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I CAN STILL. This is one of those words I heard once and it immediately stuck. In this case, I have The Day Today to thank. (Resists urge to fill rest of blog post with favourite quotes…)

12. Act one way or the other (4)

Answer: DEED (i.e. “act”). “One way or another” indicates the solution is a palindrome.

13. Doughnut-shaped gold ring in sort of wave (8)

Answer: TOROIDAL (i.e. “doughnut-shaped”). In mathematics, a torus is a doughnut-shaped thing. Solution is OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) and O (i.e. “ring”) placed “in” TIDAL (i.e. “sort of wave”), like so: T(OR-O)IDAL. Another one I knew, weirdly.

19. Early drink from this side with a royal couple (3-5)

Answer: TEA-MAKER (i.e. “early drink from this”. Not me. I start my day with a manly shot of tabasco sauce in each eye. RRRRRRRRR!!!!) Solution is TEAM (i.e. “side”) followed by A and then K and ER (i.e. “royal couple”, specifically recognised abbreviations of king (in chess or cads) and queen, i.e. Elizabeth Regina), like so: TEAM-A-(K-ER).

21. Long, narrow cruise ship rounds tip of Africa (6)

Answer: LINEAR (i.e. “long”). Solution is LINER (i.e. “narrow cruise ship”) wrapped “round” A (i.e. “tip of Africa”, i.e. the first letter of “Africa”), like so: LINE(A)R.

22. Introduce a new cat by name (8)

Answer: ANNOUNCE (i.e. “introduce”). Solution is A then N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) then N (ditto “name”) and OUNCE (i.e. “cat”, as in a snow leopard – oooh, pretty!), like so: A-N-N-OUNCE.

23. End up with one novel still in its wrapping (8)

Answer: UNOPENED (i.e. “still in its wrapping”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of END UP and ONE.

28. It’s less than one professional for each French case (6,8)

Answer: PROPER FRACTION, which is a fraction where the numerator is less than the denominator, i.e. “it’s less than one”). Solution is PRO (a recognised abbreviation of “professional”) followed by PER (i.e. “for each”), then FR (recognised abbreviation of “French”) and ACTION (i.e. “[court] case”), like so: PRO-PER-FR-ACTION.

29. Scorn regulation limiting papers in charge (8)

Answer: RIDICULE (i.e. “scorn”). Solution is RULE (i.e. “regulation”) which is wrapped around or “limiting” ID (i.e. “papers”, as in a short form of “identification”) and IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”), like so: R(ID-IC)ULE.

30. Head of government breaks bond for top office (8)

Answer: KINGSHIP (i.e. “top office”). Solution is G (i.e. “head of government”, i.e. the first letter of “government”) placed in or “breaking” KINSHIP (i.e. “bond”), like so: KIN(G)SHIP.

32. Latin work undergoes transformation (13)

Answer: METAMORPHOSES. Solution satisfies a “Latin work” by Ovid and “undergoes transformation”.

33. University left in old money for wealth (8)

Answer: OPULENCE (i.e. “wealth”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and L (ditto “left”) placed “in” O (ditto “old”) and PENCE (i.e. “money”), like so: O-P(U-L)ENCE.

35. Deal preserves hold-ups (7,4)

Answer: TRAFFIC JAMS (i.e. “hold ups”). Solution is TRAFFIC (i.e. trade or “deal”) followed by JAMS (i.e. “preserves”).

37. Shelter papa leaving sea battle (4-2)

Answer: LEAN-TO (i.e. “shelter”). Solution is LEPANTO (i.e. “sea battle”) with the P (“papa” in the phonetic alphabet) removed (indicated by “leaving”). A near carbon-copy of this clue only a couple of weeks ago. I mean, there’s freebies and then there’s this. Come on, ed!

38. Lion’s taken in by various nuts, as are most mammals (10)

Answer: VIVIPAROUS, which describes species in which young reach an advanced stage of development before delivery (i.e. “most mammals”). Solution is VIP (i.e. “lion” – this can be taken to mean an important person) placed in an anagram (indicated by “nuts”) of VARIOUS, like so: VI(VIP)AROUS. One I got though the wordplay, and the fact a very similar word appeared in last week’s grid. A cool word, still.

40. Daily exercising pre-nap, we start to snooze (9)

Answer: NEWSPAPER (i.e. “daily”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “exercising”) of PRE-NAP WE and S (i.e. “start to snooze”, i.e. the first letter of “snooze”).

42. Practise on late transport? (8)

Answer: REHEARSE (i.e. “practise”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on” or regarding – think email replies) followed by HEARSE (i.e. “late transport”, a play on how “late” can mean deceased).

44. Crude Greek column accepted by news agency (9)

Answer: TASTELESS (i.e. “crude”). Solution is STELE (i.e. “Greek column” – over to my Chambers here: a stele is “an upright stone slab or tablet” derived from the Greek word stele meaning “from root of”. So now you know.) placed in or “accepted by” TASS (i.e. “news agency” – and back into my Chambers again. TASS was the Telegrafnoye Agentstvo Sovietskovo Soyuza, a telegraph agency of the former Soviet Union. Right-oh, then). One of those weird clues where the solution was significantly easier than the wordplay used to derive it!

45. Nothing upset old Scottish smoker putting in English flooring (8)

Answer: LINOLEUM (i.e. “flooring”). Solution is NIL (i.e. “nothing”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and LUM (a Scottish word for “chimney” it says here) which is wrapped around or “putting in” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: LIN-O-L(E)UM.

50. Tender loving care protects area, using this? (4)

Answer: TALC. Solution is TLC (a recognised abbreviation of “tender loving care”) wrapped around or “protecting” A (ditto “area”), like so: T(A)LC. Within the context of the clue you might use a little talc to help protect an area of the skin. Unless you wear black.

51. Rounds of smoked ham, skinned (4)

Answer: AMMO (i.e. “rounds”). Solution is GAMMON (i.e. “smoked ham”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “skinned”).

52. Lie across soft strip of land on coast (4)

Answer: SPIT (i.e. “strip of land on coast”). Solution is SIT (i.e. “lie”) wrapped around or “across” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in music, meaning quiet or “soft”), like so: S(P)IT.

55. Short fat girl (3)

Answer: SUE (i.e. “girl”). Solution is SUET (i.e. “fat”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1394

Me in last week’s post:
“I don’t mind trickier puzzles so long as the setter plays fair and doesn’t overly rely on their Who’s Who or Collins Atlas of the World to bail themselves out of a tight spot.”

This week’s setter:
“Hold my Armagnac, Jeeves, there’s a good fellow…”

In a word: “ugh”. Who gave Jacob Rees-Mogg the keys to the crossword generator again? A novelty this week, then, as I post an incomplete grid. If I have a flash of inspiration, or if some kindly cruciverbalist swings by in the comments, then I’ll update the solution. You’ll find my grid below as it currently stands, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.
[EDIT: The grid has now been completed. Thanks to Mark in the comments for saving the day! – LP]

Before we jump in, some housekeeping in time-honoured fashion. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword which has left you baffled then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you have a soft spot for horror fiction then my Reviews page carries a few odds and sods for you to pick over.

Finally, the solution for puzzle 1392 has been published. My solution DING was indeed incorrect and should have been PING. I’ll update the post accordingly.

Right, on with the show. Laters, taters.



A big hat-tip to Mark in the comments for sorting out JANGLE and COACHEE.

Across clues

1. Still bright and fine – due to change (7)

Answer: UNFADED (i.e. “still bright”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to change”) of AND DUE and F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used in grading pencils).

5. Recent arrival to pack stuff by eight? Not quite (4,3)

Answer: WOLF CUB (i.e. “recent arrival to pack”). Solution is WOLF (i.e. “[to] stuff”, e.g. to wolf down your food) followed by CUBE (i.e. “eight”, in this case the cube number 2x2x2) with its final letter removed (indicated by “not quite”).

9. Charlie needs one for a cricket team? Correct (7)

Answer: CHASTEN (i.e. “[to] correct”). Solution is CHAS (i.e. “Charlie”) followed by TEN (i.e. “needs one for a cricket team” – a cricket team consists of eleven players, so deduct one to get ten).
[EDIT: Thanks to 1961blanchflower in the comments for providing a more satisfying explanation. The solution can also be read as C-HAS-TEN. C is “Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet, and if he “needs one for a cricket team” then you could say he HAS TEN.]

13. One on hand with the punch (6,5)

Answer: BOXING GLOVE. You can see how this fits the clue. A suspiciously straightforward solution, unless I’m missing something.

14. Africans lost in maze saw two bishops (11)

Answer: ZIMBABWEANS (i.e. “Africans”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “lost”) of IN MAZE SAW and B and B (i.e. “two bishops” – B being a recognised abbreviation of “bishop” used in chess).

15. Capital time to leave unspeakable German indeed! (5)

Answer: ABUJA, the “capital” city of Nigeria. Solution is TABU (i.e. “unspeakable”, being a variant spelling of “taboo”) with the T removed (indicated by “time to leave”, T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”) and then followed by JA (i.e. “German indeed”, as in the German for “yes”), like so: ABU-JA.

16. Match going away from City: fix! (3,4)

Answer: TIE DOWN (i.e. “fix”). Solution is TIE (i.e. “match”, as in a cup tie) followed by DOWN (i.e. “going away from city” – ignore the misleading capitalisation – it’s in the dictionary but I can’t say I’ve ever used the word in this way).

17. Sometime around four, perfect perhaps, for sweeping! (9)

Answer: EXTENSIVE (i.e. “sweeping”). Here’s one where the setter loses me, the first of a few this week. I get that IV is “four” in Roman numerals, and TENSE could be “sometime” (as in future tense, present tense, past tense), and placing one in the other gets you TENS(IV)E. As for the EX bit, um…
[EDIT: Thanks to Mike in the comments for nailing this one. The solution is EX (i.e. “sometime” as in formerly) followed by IV (i.e. “[Roman numeral] four”) once it has been placed into TENSE (i.e. “perfect, perhaps”, perfect tense is “a tense signifying action completed in the past”, e.g. I have said), like so: EX-TENS(IV)E.]

18. Join forces with Bob from Victoria? (4,3,6,8)

Answer: TAKE THE QUEEN’S SHILLING, which, according to Chambers, is “to enlist as a soldier by accepting a recruiting officer’s shilling, a practice discontinued in 1879” (i.e. “join [the Armed] forces”). Solution riffs on how “bob” is an informal name for a SHILLING. The practice would have been active while QUEEN “Victoria” was on the throne. Blimey, a solution I knew!

23. Unusually short but square old weapon (8)

Answer: ARQUEBUS (i.e. “old weapon” – did a Google Image search. A gun, then.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unusually”) of BU (i.e. “short but”, i.e. “but” with the last letter removed) and SQUARE. I knew this was going to be shitty solution, so chalk one to my Bradford’s here.

25. Sitcom of one hour, back on screen (2-2-2)

Answer: HI-DE-HI (a “sitcom” that ran on the BBC from 1980 to 1988. Ask your parents, kids.) Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and H (a recognised abbreviation of “hour”) both reversed (indicated by “back”) and placed after HIDE (i.e. “screen” – think of it along the lines of hiding something behind a screen), like so: HIDE-(H-I).

27. We all have two payments to follow annually (7)

Answer: PARENTS (i.e. “we all have two” – well, traditionally, anyway. A handful of kids have been conceived recently using the DNA from three people.) Solution is  RENTS (i.e. “payments”) placed after or “following” PA (a recognised abbreviation of per annum, i.e. “annually”), like so: PA-RENTS.

30. Back in Brazil, educating professor’s pupil (5)

Answer: ELIZA (i.e. “professor’s pupil”, specifically Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins’s pupil in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion). “In” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, while “back” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: BR(AZIL E)DUCATING. Now, repeat after me: “The woh-tah in Ma-jow-ka don’t fall where it oughta”.

32. Unimaginative artist incorporating circles in image (7)

Answer: PROSAIC (i.e. “unimaginative”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) wrapped around or “incorporating” OS (i.e. “circles”, as in Xs and Os), and then the whole itself placed “in” PIC (i.e. “image”, being a short form of picture), like so: P(R(OS)A)IC.

33. Miss turning to wine-based drink drained dry port (9)

Answer: KIRKCALDY (i.e. “port”). Solution is LACK (i.e. “miss”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and then placed behind KIR (i.e. “wine-based drink”). The whole is then followed by DY (i.e. “drained dry”, i.e. the word “dry” with its middle letter removed), like so: KIR-KCAL-DY.  Chalk one to my Bradford’s again. The moment I saw “port” I knew this wasn’t going to be worth too much of my time.

35. Parisian that enters to defeat Home Secretary hands down! (9)

Answer: BEQUEATHS (i.e. “hands down”). Solution is QUE (i.e. “Parisian that”, i.e. the French for “that”) placed in or “entering” BEAT (i.e. “to defeat”) and then followed by HS (a recognised abbreviation of “Home Secretary”), like so: BE(QUE)AT-HS.

36. Terms used in cricket are too long (7)

Answer: OVERRUN (i.e. “[go on] too long”). Solution is OVER and RUN, both “terms used in cricket”.

37. I refuse to go on backing everyone that’s flat (5)

Answer: LLANO, which, diving into my Chambers, is: “one of the vast steppes or plains in the northern part of South America”. So there you ago. Anyway: “that’s flat”. Solution is NO (i.e. “I refuse”) “to go on” or after ALL (i.e. “everyone”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: LLA-NO. One of several solutions in this puzzle where I had only the wordplay to go on.

38. Sailor briefly caught in a satellite town on the Med (7)

Answer: AJACCIO, which is a town on the island of Corsica (i.e. “town on the Med”). Solution is A and IO (i.e. “a satellite” – Io being one of Jupiter’s many moons) which are wrapped around JACK (i.e. “sailor”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in several ball games), like so: A-(JAC-C)-IO. Oh goody, more place names. Yay. #NotYay

40. Take The Sun for understanding article on woman (6)

Answer: BASQUE (i.e. “article on woman”, as in an article of women’s clothing). “For understanding” rather weakly indicates the solution is a homophone of BASK (i.e. “take the sun”, ignore the misleading italics and capitalisation).

41. Blind porter catching zeds – where you’d expect to find him? (8)

Answer: BEDAZZLE (i.e. “blind”). Solution ALE (i.e. “porter”) wrapped around or “catching” Z and Z (i.e. “zeds”), and preceded by BED (i.e. “where you’d expect to find [someone catching Zs]”), like so: BED-A(ZZ)LE.

44. What have you in mind? Very little change on offer (1,5,3,4,8)

Answer: A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Solution riffs on how A PENNY represents “very little change”. You get the idea.

48. Resolutely deferred start of meal during visit (9)

Answer: STAUNCHLY (i.e. “resolutely”). Solution is LUNCH (i.e. “meal”) with the initial letter placed at the end (indicated by “deferred start of”) and placed inside or “during” STAY (i.e. “visit”), like so: STA(UNCHL)Y.

50. Bits from Roman times one read in translation (7)

Answer: DENARII, plural of denarius (i.e. “bits from Roman times” – a bit being an informal name for a coin, e.g. a thrupenny bit). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “in translation”) of READ IN and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”).

53. Area with which the author’s at home, reflecting his female side (5)

Answer: ANIMA, which is (from my Chambers): “in Jungian psychology, the female component of the male personality”, i.e. “his female side”. Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) followed by AM IN (i.e. “the author’s at home” – taken from the point of view of the setter) which is reversed (indicated by “reflecting”), like so: A-(NI-MA). I knew this one back from when I was composing my review of Best New Horror 4, which contained a story by M. John Harrison called Anima.

54. Fire extinguisher taken from prison: warder finally in court subject to questioning (7,4)

Answer: STIRRUP PUMP. And off we go to my Chambers again! A stirrup pump is “a portable water pump held in position by the foot in a stirrup-like bracket, for fighting small fires”. Not recommended for electrical fires, then. Anyway: “fire extinguisher”. Solution is STIR (i.e. slang term for “prison”) followed by R (i.e. “warder finally”, i.e. the last letter of “warder”), then UP (i.e. “in court”, e.g. “up in front of the judge”), and finally PUMP (i.e. “subject to questioning”, as in to pump someone for information). I managed to get STIRRUP from the wordplay but had to jump into the dictionary for the rest.

55. Putting together project about Times: “no gaps”, I resolved (11)

Answer: JUXTAPOSING (i.e. “putting together”). Solution is JUT (i.e. “[to] project”) wrapped “about” X (i.e. “times”, as in the multiplication symbol – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “resolved”) of NO GAPS I, like so: JU(X)T-APOSING.

56. Crime baron maybe going down (7)

Answer: SINKING. Solution satisfies “crime baron maybe”, as in a SIN KING, and “going down”.

57. Prince, not exactly that carefree (7)

Answer: HALCYON (i.e. “carefree”). Solution is HAL (i.e. “Prince” – I had to resort to Wikipedia here, not being a keen fan of Shakespeare. Prince Hal is “the standard term used in literary criticism to refer to Shakespeare’s portrayal of the young Henry V of England as a prince before his accession to the throne, taken from the diminutive form of his name used in the plays almost exclusively by [Sir John] Falstaff.” Got all that? You’re a better person than me, then.) followed by C (i.e. “not exactly”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) and YON (i.e. a poetic form of “that”), like so: HAL-C-YON.

58. Learner driver (7)

[EDIT: Big thanks to Mark in the comments for correcting COACHER to COACHEE, an informal word for a coachman or “driver”. The solution is also a sneaky way of describing a “learner”, as in one being coached. I’ve left my original solution below for posterity, but you can ignore it. – LP]
Answer: COACHER [incorrect]. Solution satisfies “learner” – a sneaky way of saying someone who teaches or coaches – and “driver” as in a sneaky way of describing a coach horse, “drive” being taken to mean powering something rather than steering it.

Down clues

1. Happy to attend, having finished earlier (6)

Answer: UPBEAT (i.e. “happy”). Solution is BE AT (i.e. “attend”) with UP (i.e. “finished”, as in one’s time being up) placed “earlier”, like so: UP-(BE-AT).

2. Outdoor pursuit by horse in spring (7)

Answer: FOXHUNT (i.e. “outdoor pursuit”). Solution is X (i.e. “by”, as in the multiplication symbol) and H (a recognised abbreviation of “horse”) placed “in” FOUNT (i.e. “spring”), like so: FO(X-H)UNT. A clue that scans really well. I like it.

3. Pass request for assignment to tutor? (4,3,2)

Answer: DON’T ASK ME (i.e. “pass”). Solution also satisfies “request for assignment to tutor”, as in DON, TASK ME! Another good ‘un.

4. Figure computer buffs do this? (5)

Answer: DIGIT (i.e. “figure”). Solution also satisfies “computer buffs do this”, as in they DIG IT, a recognised abbreviation of Information Technology. I admit, this one made me smile when I got it.

5. Anyone occupying new home, verifiably? (8)

Answer: WHOMEVER (i.e. “anyone”). “Occupying” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NE(W HOME VER)IFIABLY. Took me a while to spot. Well played.

6. More or less stop, in the main to deceive (3,2)

Answer: LIE TO, which is sailor-speak for bringing a vessel to a virtual stop (i.e. “more or less stop, in the main” – “main” in this case being another word for the sea – a bit of wordplay often used by setters). Solution also satisfies “to deceive”.

7. Enclosed frames something Walton’s on about for artist (7)

Answer: Paul CEZANNE (i.e. “artist”, and very good he was too). This took some figuring, but the solution is ENC (a recognised abbreviation of “enclosed” typically used in formal correspondence to indicate a letter has been accompanied by one or more enclosures) which is wrapped around or “framing” NAZE (i.e. “something Walton’s on”, referring to the small town of Walton-On-The-Naze in Essex. No, me neither. The Naze in question, if you’re interested, is a headland that juts out quite a way into the North Sea, which looks pretty cool), and then the whole lot reversed (indicated by “about”), like so: C(EZAN)NE.

8. With glasses on, watches ads for cars? (6,8)

Answer: BUMPER STICKERS (i.e. “ads for cars” – well, it’s described as such in the dictionary, I guess). Solution is BUMPERS (i.e. “glasses”, specifically full glasses ready to raise in a toast – no, me neither) followed by TICKERS (i.e. “watches”).

9. Outlet’s porch fast deteriorating (5,4)

Answer: CRAFT SHOP (i.e. “[retail] outlet”). “Deteriorating” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PORCH FAST.

10. What you’ll see on the Nile, and the Avon, typically (5)

Answer: ASWAN. Solution satisfies “what you’ll see on the Nile”, referring to the city of ASWAN which is situated on the Nile. More place names, then. Solution also satisfies “what you’ll see on…the Avon, typically”, as in A SWAN. One I only got once I had all the intersecting letters.

11. Music that could have lad join tzaritza dancing (11,4)

Answer: TRADITIONAL JAZZ (i.e. “music”). “Dancing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LAD JOIN TZARITZA.

12. Saving time in New York, say: no good concealing it (4,3)

Answer: NEST EGG (i.e. “saving”). This was another one that took some figuring, but the solution is EST (i.e. “time in New York”, specifically Eastern Standard Time) and EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) placed in or “concealed” by N (a recognised abbreviation of “no”) and G (ditto “good”), like so: N-(EST-EG)-G.

19. Herald eclipse, one a long way from earth? (7)

Answer: TRUMPET (i.e. “herald”). Solution is TRUMP (i.e. “eclipse”) followed by ET (i.e. “one a long way from earth”, specifically an Extra-Terrestrial).

20. Single-issue college speakers get up briefly (9)

Answer: UNIPAROUS, which is to produce only one at birth (i.e. “single-issue”). Solution is UNI (a recognised abbreviation of university, i.e. “college”) followed by PA (i.e. “speakers”, specifically a Public Address system) and ROUSE (i.e. “get up”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: UNI-PA-ROUS.

21. Unfinished stringed instrument: I state you can wax it (7)

Answer: LYRICAL (i.e. “you can wax it”). Solution is LYRE (i.e. “stringed instrument”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “unfinished”), then followed by I and then CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California), like so: LYR-I-CAL.

22. A snake or two bear tormented (5,3)

Answer: WATER BOA (i.e. “a snake”). “Tormented” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TWO BEAR.

24. Callixenus comprehends his limits age wise (15)

Answer: QUINQUAGENARIAN, which describes someone in their fifties (i.e. “age wise”). I know the word (it’s one of my favourites – yes, I’m weird) but not having had hundreds of thousands of pounds lavished on my education, I’m left guessing the solution is something that can be broken down into a Latin phrase befitting the clue, something like QUIN-QUA-GENERI-AN. Google Translate has this as “without the degree or”, so, er… perhaps not.
[EDIT: A big thank you to Mike, Mark and Clive in the comments for decoding this one.  CaLLIXenus contains or “comprehends” the Roman numerals L and LIX successively, being the numbers 50 and 59, i.e. the “limits” of a quinquagenarian. For all I’m not this setter’s biggest fan, I have to admit this clue is brilliant.]

26. State funds partner no longer one with place on the board (9)

Answer: EXCHEQUER (i.e. “state funds”). Solution is EX (i.e. “partner no longer”) followed by CHEQUER (i.e. “one with place on board”, as in a piece in a game of chequers).

28. The blue socks that are great for seeing baseball teams in? (8)

Answer: SKYBOXES (i.e. “that are great for seeing baseball teams in”, as in the posh boxes found in some sports arenas). Not a word found in my Chambers, this, but the solution is SKY (i.e. “blue” occasionally) followed by BOXES (i.e. “socks” – think of it in terms of hitting someone).

29. Odd person, the president, one featuring in reply to children’s question (10,4)

Answer: GOOSEBERRY BUSH (i.e. “one featuring in reply to children’s question” – this refers to an allegedly popular response given to a child when they ask where they came from, whereupon they are told they were “found under a gooseberry bush”. “Gooseberry bush” was originally a slang term describing a woman’s pubic hair, so, technically speaking, they’re right.) Solution is GOOSEBERRY (i.e. “odd person”, as in the awkward hanger-on who accompanies a pair who would rather be alone) followed by BUSH (i.e. “the president” – George or Dubya, take your pick).

31. French town one can start to like, somehow (7)

Answer: ALENCON (i.e. “French town”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of ONE CAN and L (i.e. “start to like”, i.e. the first letter of “like”). One I got from the wordplay and only once I’d had most of the intersecting letters filled in. More bloody place names.

34. Romeo regularly taking money for reciting poem (7)

Answer: RONDEAU. Hold on. (Grabs Chambers again.) This is “a form of poem characterised by closely-knit rhymes and a refrain, and, as defined in the 17c, consisting of thirteen lines, divided into three unequal strophes, not including the burden (repeating the first few words) after the eighth and thirteenth lines, brought into vogue by Swinburne”. And they wonder why limericks are popular. Anyway, the solution is R (“Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by ON (i.e. “regularly” – a weak one this, if I have it right) and DEAU (i.e. “money for reciting” – it should be noted that RONDEAU is pronounced ron-dough… so DEAU is a homophone of dough, i.e. “money”). Another one that took a fair amount of figuring.

39. How mishit croquet ball might come back ready-made (3,3,3)

Answer: OFF THE PEG. Solution satisfies “how mishit croquet ball might come back”, a beastly situation I’m sure every man, woman and child can relate to, what, what, what, eh, Jeeves; and “ready-made [clothing]”.

42. Alias entered into by queen to see a Russian poet (9)

Answer: Anna AKHMATOVA (i.e. “Russian poet” – what do you mean you’ve never heard of… ah, who am I kidding? Me neither.) This was another that took a fair amount of figuring, but the solution is AKA (i.e. “alias”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “also known as”) which surrounds or is “entered into by” HM (i.e. “queen”, as in Her Majesty), then followed by TO, then V (i.e. “see” – one of this setter’s tells, and one I was wise to. V is a recognised abbreviation of “vide”, which is “see” in Latin), and finally A, like so: AK(HM)A-TO-V-A. Good grief.

43. Hormone’s harmful substance keeping husband younger (8)

Answer: THYROXIN (i.e. a “hormone” produced by the thyroid gland). Solution is TOXIN (i.e. “harmful substance”) wrapped around or “keeping” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and YR (ditto “younger”), like so: T(H-YR)OXIN. Unsurprisingly, this was another one gotten largely through the wordplay.

44. Is supporter first to abandon plucky players? (7)

Answer: ASSISTS (i.e. “is supporter”). Solution is BASSISTS (i.e. “plucky players”, as in how they pluck the strings) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “first to abandon”).

45. Reference work on beer, large and so complex? (7)

Answer: OEDIPAL (i.e. “complex”, being a strong affection one has for their mother paired with a strong dislike of one’s father). Solution is OED (i.e. “reference work”, specifically the Oxford English Dictionary) followed by IPA (i.e. “beer”, specifically Indian Pale Ale) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

46. Maybe like Berkshire land one’s keeping quiet about (7)

Answer: SWINISH (i.e. “maybe like Berkshire” – referring to the Berkshire breed of pig. No, me neither.) Solution is WIN (i.e. “land”, as in to land a big contract) and I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) both placed in SH (i.e. “quiet”), like so: S(WIN-IS)H.

47. Jar on its lid – something often right underneath (6)

[EDIT: A further big thank you to Mark in the comments for the answer, which is JANGLE (i.e. “[to] jar”). The solution is J (i.e. “jar on its lid”, a little bit of recursion there referring to the first letter of “jar”) and ANGLE (i.e. “something often right”, as in right angles. “Often”, setter, really? On a sheet of graph paper, perhaps…) placed “underneath”, this being a down clue. Again, I’ve left my original text below for posterity, not that it’ll help you much! – LP]
Answer: Your guess is as good as mine, I’m afraid. There are dozens of words that match the letters _A_G_R, and none of them leap out as a strong contender for the solution. It could be DAGGER, being the symbol you sometimes see in text to denote a related footnote, or “something often right underneath”. I can’t see how it fits the rest of the clue, though. Given the setter’s penchant for using place names, it could be BANGOR, which fits “jar” (BANG) and “right underneath” (R placed at the end, this being a down clue), but that’s about it. If I have a brainwave anytime soon, I’ll let you know. I suspect when the solution is published in a couple of weeks, I’ll still be none the wiser.

49. Italian architect recalled in verse – and oddly overlooked (5)

Answer: Pier Luigi NERVI (i.e. “Italian architect” – I know, I know. More dead people. Don’t worry, we’re nearly done). “Oddly overlooked” indicates the odd letters are ignored in the words IN VERSE AND once they have been reversed (indicated itself by “recalled”), like so: DNA ESREV NI.

51. In vain altering Schiller ode’s intro (2,3)

Answer: NO JOY (i.e. “in vain”). Solution is TO JOY (i.e. “Schiller’s ode”, as in Ode To Joy. We’re ignoring the “Ode” bit, as it has already been mentioned in the clue) with the initial letter changed (indicated by “altering…intro”).

52. Child nearly sacrificed? There are differing accounts (5)

Answer: ISAAC (i.e. “child nearly sacrificed” – in the Bible, Abraham was tasked by God to kill his son, Isaac, to prove his faith and was only stopped at the very last moment by a spot of divine intervention. That God, eh? Such a nice deity. “It’s Tuesday so let’s mentally scar a boy to help flatter My ego. Cor, it’s great being God, isn’t it?” <snips 10,000 word anti-religious rant>) Anyway, the solution comprises ISA and AC, both “differing accounts”, the former being an Individual Savings Account, the latter being a recognised abbreviation of the word “account”.

Review: Best New Horror 8

Here’s looking at you, kid.

(If you would like to read reviews of the previous books in the Best New Horror series, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

After a run of above-average entries in the Best New Horror series it was inevitable we would hit an iffy one, and this is it. The weird thing, though, is there is nothing massively wrong with the book. There are few stinkers to be found here, if any, but then nor are we overly blessed with knockout stories. This instalment therefore scores a fairly average 3/5 from me.

Best New Horror 8 presents twenty-four horror shorts published during 1996, and runs as follows:


Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

Walking the Dog – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Steve is hired by the mysterious Mr Stook to walk his dog, which sounds easy enough until Steve finds himself being dragged around some godforsaken craggy moor by the thing each and every night. It’s an arrangement that is every bit as eccentric for our man as it is exhausting, but then nothing quite compares to the weirdness of the “dog” itself. Still, at least the money is good. Now if only Steve can loosen the grip Stook has somehow taken on his life. Or, more accurately, his neck. Who is leading who, exactly? I’d say this was the weakest story of Lamsley’s to appear in Best New Horror. That’s not to say this was poor, rather the least best of a good bunch. The characters are interesting, the setting is suitably creepy, and there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a horror story. Still, you have to wonder how this oddity popped into Lamsley’s head. I’ll have what he’s having, please.)

Also collected in Brite’s “Self-Made Man”

Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz – Poppy Z. Brite (3/5 – Another beautifully-written story from Brite, and one that typically doesn’t skimp on the claret. Like The Sixth Sentinel (Best New Horror 5), Brite digs into New Orleans history for inspiration, but falters on this occasion by also attempting to incorporate all of world history into the bargain. (Small exaggeration.) Archduke Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering the Great War. Four years later the Archduke’s ghost turns up in New Orleans, exceedingly pissed off and determined to hunt down and kill a centuries-old Italian occultist called Cagliostro. The Archduke is convinced Cagliostro is guilty of ordering his assassination. He has a plan for revenge. All he needs in an unwitting pawn. Beware, New Orleans, the axeman cometh. This is ambitious and imaginative stuff, but ultimately a rare misfire from Brite. You might have a better time of this than me if you ignore the tone set by the first part of the story and instead strap yourself in for a silly, gory fun ride.)

An Eye for an Eye – Norman Partridge (3/5 – Wanda and Russell are intrigued by a stuffed black cat owned by Wanda’s grandmother, Madame Estrella, not least by how Estrella is somehow able to bring the thing back to life. The cat supposedly once starred in a few golden oldie horror movies, and word has it that a fella of Estrella’s acquaintance has more memorabilia like it stashed away somewhere. Wanda and Russell are keen to plunder this valuable collection. Wanda especially will stop at nothing to get her hands on it. This story was written for a themed anthology and good grief does it show. It’s a fun read, yes, but, like the story preceding it, there’s a lot of wreckage to overlook.)

Also collected in Clegg’s “The Nightmare Chronicles”

Underworld – Douglas Clegg (3/5 – Oliver takes his wife Jenny to an old Chinese restaurant squirrelled away in a run-down New York alley. The wife of the owner correctly guesses Jenny is pregnant and is confident she will give birth to a baby boy. Jenny is tragically murdered, however, and when Oliver returns to the alley sometime later he finds the restaurant has been boarded up. When he looks through a crack in the boards and into the darkened restaurant, he catches a vision of Jenny framed in the glass of the kitchen door. Inevitably, Oliver breaks in to investigate. This was okay, and better than Clegg’s previous entry, Where Flies Are Born (Best New Horror 3), but it felt like a plot outline at times which would have benefitted from a little more flesh on the bones.)

The Curse Of Kali – Cherry Wilder (3/5 – Gwen lodges with the Bentons and their three children. The mother, Rose, works in real estate. Through some prior financial finagling Rose had managed to secure ownership of the house next door, much to the annoyance of the old widow Pallister who lived there. Now, with Mrs Pallister passed away, Gwen watches as the Bentons pick over their acquisition and its exotic chattels. When the youngest Benton fails to return home one evening, Gwen is disturbed to see a shadowy figure lurking at the corner of the Pallister house. This was okay, but, for me, the setup seemed too obviously engineered to deliver the shock Wilder had in mind. I’d have also preferred a little less of the awful Bentons and a little more of the Pallisters, if only to better qualify events later in the story.)

The Film – Richard Christian Matheson (3/5 – A short shocker from Matheson which sees a ragtag bunch of sick and ailing ne’er-do-wells descend on a brutalist movie theatre in some futuristic, eco-apocalyptic shithole. They’re all super-keen to see “The Film”, even if it’s the last thing they do. Another middling story here, but this does at least better Matheson’s previous entry, Ménage à Trois (Best New Horror 6). It’s an entertaining read, and one whose postmodernist leanings lend it a certain freshness for you hep cats, but it won’t be too long after the end before you start picking holes in it.)

Also collected in Constantine’s “The Oracle Lips”

Of a Cat, But Her Skin – Storm Constantine (3/5 – Nina escapes her control-freak other half, Scott, and loses herself for a while in the grounds of Elwood Grange. She happens across a stone monument tucked away in the woods: a wide obelisk carved with assorted arcane texts, atop which sits a sculpture of a cat hunkered down in a hunting pose. Nina is drawn to the monument, and feels it expose a rich seam of confidence within her. This was okay, but it takes a while to get going. While I liked the places the story goes to, I couldn’t help thinking that the fantasy element – I struggle to call this horror – served to undermine Nina; as if she wouldn’t have been capable of achieving what she does within the story without receiving a magical leg-up.)

Also collected in Burleson’s “Wait for the Thunder”

Hopscotch – Donald R. Burleson (3/5 – It’s the dead of night and an old woman revisits the neighbourhood of her youth. Signs of life are thin on the ground. The buildings vary from decrepit to barely inhabitable piles of wire and rubble. The old woman finds a faded hopscotch grid in an enclosed alleyway and recalls the gruesome fate of the intense young girl who painted it. The old woman flips a bottlecap into square one. Game on. Well, you can’t fault Burleson for a lack of effort. He lays on the atmosphere with a trowel in the opening pages and then, when most writers would have given up the story as a bad job, he ploughs on ahead despite having an old woman playing hopscotch, in a dead part of town, in the middle of the night, on her own, and while beset with arthritis. He tries everything to make the story work. To be fair this was okay once it got going, but, let’s be blunt, there’s a lot of bollocks you’re going to need to swallow here. So to speak.)

Also collected in SRT’s “City Fishing”. Cover links to Smashwords page.

Ghost In The Machine – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Carter is baffled how the TV is still on with no power running to it. In fact, how can the TV be on at all when he’d already given it to his neighbour? It seems Carter’s mind is in a strange place. Life has not been the same since his mother died. Best get the repairman around to help put things right. Fans of SRT know how strange his stories can get, and this is one of the strangest. In the story’s introduction he describes how it was written at 2am, which sums up its dreamlike quality perfectly.)

The Moon Never Changes – Joel Lane (3/5 – Gareth is a young man who, for the most part, manages to keep hidden the seething frustration he feels for modern life and the state of things. He indulges his bitterness through a number of unhealthy pursuits. He attends meetings of a local fascist group and soaks up their dogma. He broods over photographs of those who’d dumped him. When Lorraine, a work colleague, invites herself around to his place, it seems Gareth has a chance to turn his life around, but is he willing to take it? In the introduction Lane describes the story as being about the psychology of fascism. I don’t doubt this, but by wrapping it in his usual gossamer layers of metaphor and implied meaning, I couldn’t help but feel he’d let his target off the hook.)

Butcher’s Logic – Roberta Lannes (4/5 – We’re in 1950s US of A to witness a slice of familial strife brought on by the eldest daughter’s friendship with a lad called Jesse, a half-Puerto-Rican half-Afro-American boy. Neither of the girl’s parents approve of Jesse, what with this being 1950s US of A and all. Her mother in particular dials up her admonishment of the girl at every opportunity. Tempers boil over when Jesse stands up to the girl’s father during a fractious exchange, causing the old man to accidentally bugger over and hurt himself. Later, on a grocery errand, the girl sees her father’s car parked by the store. The old man is nowhere to be found inside, and the staff seem a little cagey of his whereabouts: the cashier, the bagger… and the butcher. I liked this a lot. Lannes replaces the extreme horror of her previous stories with something more restrained and reaps the rewards as a result.)

Kites and Kisses – D. F. Lewis (3/5 – Clive is a young lad who spends a lot of his time looking out of the window. He often sees another young lad playing outside with a kite. Asking his mother for a kite of his own, Clive is told if he’d wanted one hard enough then he’d have one by now. According to his mother, such twisted logic as this is what helped them become so terribly, terribly wealthy. Clive isn’t so sure about that. It seems every time Mr Court pops round in his dumpster, it’s to seek money that Clive’s mother doesn’t have. This is one of the longer stories of Lewis’s oeuvre, clocking in at a giddy five and a half pages. For the most part it was a fairly straight affair with some nice writerly flourishes, but the jarring switch to Lewis’s usual cryptic style right at the end was more tiresome than intriguing.)

Last Train to Arnos Grove – Marni Griffin (3/5 – It’s approaching midnight and a woman is trying to get home in time to receive a call from her other half. Wouldn’t you know it, her car runs out of petrol just outside Wood Green tube station. Scrabbling together some loose change she buys a ticket for the underground. When she gets on the train, however, she finds there are several more stops before Arnos Grove than were advertised. This was okay, albeit another story that felt overly engineered. Was it really so fantastically important to be home by the stroke of midnight? Wouldn’t her other half have called again a little bit later? Or does he turn into a pumpkin at one-minute-past? And who calls their partner at midnight anyway?)

The King of Rain – Mark Chadbourn (4/5 – Four work colleagues are on a miserable hiking break on the Derbyshire moors: John, the owner of the business; Phil, the office curmudgeon; Gordon, the annoyingly upbeat guy; and young Sam, our narrator. As rain persists and the hike progresses, Gordon and Phil begin exhibiting strange injuries: a large bruise on the arm, a sudden nosebleed. Much to Sam’s unease, John seems to be holding something back about the purpose of their hike. This was a very good story, and one written at a time when insufferable office team-building exercises were all the rage. Coincidence?)

Also collected in Sinclair’s “Slow Chocolate Autopsies”

Hardball – Iain Sinclair (3/5 – For the last three years a young man has been in the employ of The Pole, a crotchety and creatively-sweary drunkard. Along with an unhinged youth known simply as The Kid, the three of them maintain the painted lines of football pitches on Hackney Marshes. It’s a never-ending job, seeing as though there are two hundred of them. To our man’s surprise he finds both The Pole and The Kid sometimes engage in a little extra-curricular activity, taking on football fans in penalty shootouts outside grounds on match days. Our man is invited to play but soon comes to realise there’s a lot more at stake than a couple of quid and a celebratory chug of vodka. This was okay, but it took a second reading for it to improve. Even then I didn’t buy it. I suspect that for every reader who laps up the literary showboating on display here there’ll be a dozen more enduring a story basting indulgently in its own writerly juices.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “The Nightmare Factory”

Gas Station Carnivals – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – This playfully meta story sees a dyspeptic writer sitting in a cabaret club, drinking mint tea and smoking mild cigarettes. He is joined by an arts critic called Quissier who is worried that he’s in dutch with the club’s proprietress after calling her “a deluded no-talent”. Apropos of nothing, Quissier then goes on to relate his childhood experience of the run-down little carnivals that he would sometimes find close to equally run-down gas stations, and of the strange and scary entertainment he would find within them. The writer, seemingly having had enough, stops Quissier halfway through his story with a surprising and revelatory interjection. Ligotti’s stories are in a field of their own, and are often a highlight of the Best New Horror books that feature them. This is no different. Probably my favourite of his appearances thus far.)

Also collected in Tessier’s “Ghost Music and Other Tales”

Ghost Music: A Memoir By George Beaune – Thomas Tessier (4/5 – Beaune, a music journalist, recounts the strange events surrounding the decline of his composer friend, Eric Stringer. When Stringer is commissioned to write a quartet he moves to London to throw himself fully into his work. Months pass, but, when Stringer eventually exhibits the piece to Beaune, our man is troubled by what he hears. The music into which Stringer had poured so much of himself was undoubtedly beautiful, but it also had the unfortunate distinction of having already been written, note for note, by an obscure composer several years earlier. When Stringer scraps the work and starts afresh, he finds to his horror and shame that the same thing happens again. Could Stringer have been suffering a bizarre episode of writer’s block, or was there a more supernatural explanation? Tessier really knows his stuff when it comes to classical music, it seems, and this had the feel of a story he’d wanted to write for some time. The result is a really good read. Jump in!)

That Blissful Height – Gregory Frost (4/5 – Frost dramatises the story of Professor Robert Hare and his efforts to apply scientific methods to the craft of local spirit mediums in mid-1800s Pennsylvania. He attends a séance with his friend and fellow cynic, John Hazard, noting how the medium often had too much influence on the messages being passed along from the afterlife. Hare endeavours to produce a number of contraptions to create a degree of separation between the medium and the message being delivered. In doing so he finds his long-dead sister, Anna, suddenly keen to have a chat. Hare’s head is turned by this revelation, but Hazard remains unconvinced. Frost’s impeccable writing helps make this one of the strongest stories in the book and is very much worth your time.)

Also collected in Royle’s “Mortality”

Skin Deep – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Henderson has been enthusiastically boffing Graham Bloor’s wife, Elizabeth, behind the man’s back for some time. When he is invited one day to accompany the Bloors up to the Highlands to help hunt wildcat, Henderson accepts. He is disappointed and slightly alarmed, however, to discover Elizabeth has been unable to make the trip. Cue much tension as the two men head on out for the hunt. This was another story that was jarringly over-engineered. Here’s an example of what I mean. Within the space of the first two pages we establish: 1) that Bloor is being offered two thousand pounds from a taxidermist for each wildcat he bags; 2) that wildcats are “as rare as rocking horse droppings”, and 3) that Bloor is a successful businessman with a big house and a flash car. Ri-i-i-ight, because spending days hunting rare wildcat is just what successful businessmen do for pocket change. I smell droppings here, and they’re not from any rocking horse. The story never really recovers from this clanger, but it does have its moments and Royle does succeed in providing a strong ending.)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

Hell Hath Enlarged Herself – Michael Marshall Smith (4/5 – An old man drives to a hotel room in a world gone to hell. Along the way he reminisces about an old friend of his, David, and the incredible technological advances they achieved in their youth along with David’s girlfriend, Rebecca. Back then the three of them worked in secret to produce a nanotechnological panacea, a real world-changer in their eyes. But each advance they made in their discoveries would come with an added layer of hubris. As any Outer Limits fan knows, the arrogance of boffins too much in love with their own work never plays out well. This novelette was nominated for a World Fantasy Award at the time and while the futuristic science on display has rusted a bit over the years, the story is still a good one. It does come slightly adrift towards the end, however, when MMS starts spooning in the supernatural.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Personal Demons”

Unforgotten – Christopher Fowler (3/5 – A ruthless property developer is keen to purchase a knackered old building sitting between two others he owns. The developer wants to knock the whole lot down and parcel the land for development, maximising its value. His right-hand-man, however, sees a certain charm in the old building. He also finds its plans don’t quite add up. Not every square foot of the place seems to be accounted for. Time for a look-see, then. I doubt there are many people who can rival Fowler’s knowledge of London and his passion for the place, but on this occasion it proves his undoing. While he pulls out a decent ending to the story, there’s too much fussing and farting about getting there. A rare misfire for me, sadly. Fowler went on to use elements of this story some years later in his second Bryant & May novel, The Water Room, with broadly similar results.)

Also collected in Edelman’s “These Words Are Haunted”.

A Plague On Both Your Houses – Scott Edelman (3/5 – Five words: “Romeo and Juliet and zombies”. A long-running feud exists between the living and the living dead. Carlo, son of the mayor of living New York City, falls head over heels in love with Delores at a masquerade ball. Unknown to Carlo, Delores is a zombie, and the daughter of Leopold, king of the zombies, no less. Can true love find a way? Edelman presents for the audience’s delectation a five act play written in rhyming couplets. It’s an admirable effort, but it’s telling that Edelman couldn’t find anyone to publish the piece, resorting instead to self-publishing it as a Halloween card. Still, A Plague… eventually bagged a Stoker nomination, so his efforts seem vindicated. For me, though, I’m with the editor who said ‘Sorry, but we don’t like Shakespeare’.)

Also collected in “Masters of the Weird Tale: Karl Edward Wagner”

Final Cut – Karl Edward Wagner (4/5 – In what was believed to be Wagner’s last story before his untimely death, Dr Kirby Meredith is a psychiatrist in a large hospital who gets a distressing call from Cousin Bob. Bob, a long-time alcoholic, can’t stop vomiting blood, and so Meredith instructs him to come to the hospital straight away. Bob is stabilised, but finds he needs an operation to save his life. While under the knife, Bob has a strange dream in which he stumbles into a morgue and an ongoing autopsy. Or at least Bob thinks it was a dream. This was a very good story. Though there’s a sense that Wagner, a trained psychiatrist himself, was getting one or two things off his chest, it never strayed into chest-beating polemic.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

The Break – Terry Lamsley (5/5 – If Walking The Dog was Lamsley’s weakest appearance in the Best New Horror series, then I would say The Break was his strongest. In this superb novelette, Danny accompanies his grandparents on a week’s holiday in the sleepy seaside town of Todley Bay. There he witnesses a number of weird things happening around him, from a man taking days to inch a large heavy box along the jetty, to a huge oily gull stalking him, to a hotel with a shifting number of floors, to a number of people only he seems able to see. Some of these people seem awfully keen to spirit Danny’s senile grandfather away. The lightness of touch that imbues many of Lamsley’s stories is replaced here with sobering observations on the effects of Alzheimers on the sufferer and those who love and care for them, and his story is all the more powerful for it. This was an excellent read. Jones leaves the best story for last in Best New Horror 8.)

And so we reach the end of the review. If you got this far, thanks for reading! I hope there were a few stories here that tickled your fancy. If so, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a second-hand copy of Best New Horror 8 online. Alternatively, you can purchase an eBook copy on most major platforms for a couple of quid. The cover images in the review will take you to the relevant Goodreads page should you want to explore more of the author’s work.

Till book 9, keep well and I’ll see you soon.