Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1388

A medium-strength puzzle this week, and another good one which allowed fairly steady progression. Well, at least until I hit TELEOST, anyway. 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, some housekeeping before we jump in. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s a little gappy then my Just For Fun page might help you out. If horror fiction is your thing then my Reviews page has a few treats for you, old and new. All being well, I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 7 up shortly. (Ish.)

And so to the answers. See you later.


Across clues

1. Lose concentration in shoot-out? (6,3)

Answer: SWITCH OFF (i.e. “lose concentration”). I’ve no idea what the setter is on about regarding “shoot-out”, though. Good start, isn’t it?

6. Defendant, doomed, right to escape (7)

Answer: ACCUSED (i.e. “defendant”). Solution is ACCURSED (i.e. “doomed”) with the R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) removed.

10. Hard to leave immaculate social group (5)

Answer: CASTE (i.e. “social group”). Solution is CHASTE (i.e. “immaculate”) with the H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) removed.

13. Possible cause of tears involving religious view (7)

Answer: OPINION (i.e. “view”). Solution is ONION (i.e. “possible cause of tears”) wrapped around or “involving” PI (a recognised abbreviation of pious, i.e. “religious” – I’m a little wiser to the setter’s use of this now), like so: O(PI)NION.

14. Canvas covers feel bad (7)

Answer: TOPSAIL (i.e. “canvas”). Solution is TOPS (i.e. “covers”) followed by AIL (i.e. “feel bad”).

15. Worker breaking into strongbox for capital (5,2)

Answer: SANTA FE (i.e. “capital” of the US state of New Mexico). Solution is ANT (i.e. “worker”) “breaking into” SAFE (i.e. “strongbox”), like so: S(ANT)AFE.

16. Acknowledge agreement not deleted – nothing is chopped (4,2,3,6,4)

Answer: SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE (i.e. “acknowledge agreement”). “Chopped” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NOT DELETED NOTHING IS. Sounds like Facebook’s motto.

17. Successful song delivers beat (3)

Answer: HIT. Solution satisfies “successful song” and “delivers beat”.

18. Fugitive away from home turf endlessly (6)

Answer: OUTLAW (i.e. “fugitive”). Solution is OUT (i.e. “away from home”) followed by LAWN (i.e. “turf”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”).

20. Clandestine romance just beyond alpha female (6)

Answer: AFFAIR (i.e. “clandestine romance”). Solution is FAIR (i.e. “just”) placed after or “beyond” A (“alpha” in the phonetic alphabet) and F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), like so: A-F-FAIR.

21. One to harass soldiers between peaks (9)

Answer: TORMENTOR (i.e. “one to harass”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “soldiers”) placed “between” TOR and TOR (i.e. “peaks”), like so: TOR-MEN-TOR.

23. Need publication to probe writer’s bad spelling? (5,5)

Answer: BLACK MAGIC (i.e. “bad spelling”). Solution is LACK (i.e. “need”) and MAG (i.e. “publication”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “magazine”) placed in or “probing” BIC (i.e. “writer”, as in the brand of pen), like so: B(LACK-MAG)IC. A clue that scans rather well.

25. Brown backed one catalogued as a certain politician? (11)

Answer: NATIONALIST (i.e. “a certain politician”). Solution is TAN (i.e. “brown”) reversed (indicated by “backed”) and followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and ON A LIST (i.e. “catalogued”), like so: NAT-I-ON-A-LIST.

29. 20 a regret when curtailed (5)

Answer: AMOUR (i.e. “affair”, from 20a). Solution is A then MOURN (i.e. “regret”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “curtailed”).

30. Father rebuffed in joint expressing contempt (8)

Answer: DERISIVE (i.e. “expressing contempt”). Solution is SIRE (i.e. “[to] father”) reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”) and placed “in” DIVE (i.e. “joint”, both slang terms for a bar), like so: D(ERIS)IVE.

31. Building workers dividing 13 (8)

Answer: TENEMENT (i.e. “building”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “workers” – clearly not an equal opportunities employer…) placed in or “dividing” TENET (i.e. belief or “opinion”, from 13a), like so: TENE(MEN)T.

34. Made effort to have additional layer wrapped around (8)

Answer: BOTHERED (i.e. “made effort”). Solution is OTHER (i.e. “additional”) with BED (i.e. “layer”, as in something you lie on) “wrapped around” it, like so: B(OTHER)ED.

36. Scaremonger having a large weapon is finally shot (8)

Answer: ALARMIST (i.e. “scaremonger”). Solution is A followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”), then ARM (i.e. “weapon”), then IS and T (i.e. “finally shot”, i.e. the last letter of “shot”), like so: A-L-ARM-IS-T.

37. Stagehand beginning to eat beef (5)

Answer: GRIPE (i.e. “[to] beef”). Solution is GRIP (i.e. “stagehand”) followed by E (i.e. “beginning to eat”, i.e. the first letter of “eat”).

39. Nothing takes care of bulging waistline (4,7)

Answer: LOVE HANDLES (i.e. “bulging waistline”). Solution is LOVE (i.e. “nothing”, as in a zero score in tennis) followed by HANDLES (i.e. “takes care of”).

41. Expert boarding last tube reveals outcome (3,7)

Answer: END PRODUCT (i.e. “outcome”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “expert”) placed in or “boarding” END (i.e. “last”) and DUCT (i.e. “tube”), like so: END-(PRO)-DUCT. This took a while despite having all the intersecting letters. Having only the even letters of a word (in this case _R_D_C_) can be a pain in the arse sometimes.

43. Rising from piano, concedes right to play (9)

Answer: CRESCENDO (i.e. “rising from piano” – piano in this context meaning “quiet” rather than the musical instrument). “To play” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CONCEDES and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

45. Retired shooter to acquire a little bit of wisdom? (6)

Answer: NUGGET (i.e. “a little bit of wisdom”). Solution is GUN (i.e. “shooter”) reversed (indicated by “retired”) and followed by GET (i.e. “to acquire”), like so: NUG-GET.

47. Brilliant to find outdated inside information (6)

Answer: GOLDEN (i.e. “brilliant”). Solution is OLD (i.e. “outdated”) placed “inside” GEN (i.e. “information”), like so: G(OLD)EN.

49. Narrowly defeat Dickensian hero (3)

Answer: PIP. Solution satisfies “narrowly defeat” and “Dickensian hero”, specifically from Dickens’s Great Expectations.

50. Air Force mistreated some recruits perhaps (11,8)

Answer: ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE (i.e. “air force” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). “Mistreated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SOME RECRUITS PERHAPS. A really well-worked clue.

52. Limb damaged when trapped in the sewer cover? (7)

Answer: THIMBLE (i.e. “sewer cover” – sewer in this case being one who sews). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “damaged”) of LIMB placed or “trapped in” THE, like so: TH(IMBL)E.

53. Native American artist parking in two areas by house (7)

Answer: ARAPAHO (i.e. “Native American”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) and P (a recognised abbreviation of “parking”) placed “in” or between A and A (i.e. “two areas” – A being a recognised abbreviation of “area”) and followed by HO (ditto “house”), like so: A-(RA-P)-A-HO. I have Ian Dury and The Blockheads to largely thank for that one.

54. Gent entertains false female ousted in burlesque (4-3)

Answer: TAKE-OFF (i.e. “burlesque”). Solution is TOFF (i.e. “gent”) wrapped around or “entertaining” FAKE (i.e. “false”) with the F removed (indicated by “female ousted” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “female”), like so: T(AKE)OFF.

55. Dead right – but not right now! (5)

Answer: LATER (i.e. “not right now”). Solution is LATE (i.e. “dead”) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

56. Co-operation from offender, reportedly heartless guy (7)

Answer: SYNERGY (i.e. “co-operation”). Solution is SYNER (i.e. “offender, reportedly”, i.e. a homophone of “sinner” – again I must boo and tut as another non-word is used as a homophone) followed by GY (i.e. “heartless guy”, i.e. GUY with the middle letter removed).

57. Hard-skinned alien creature returns, then departs (9)

Answer: LAMINATED (i.e. “hard-skinned”). Solution is ET (i.e. “alien”, specifically an Extra Terrestrial) and ANIMAL (i.e. “creature”) both reversed (indicated by “returns”) and followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “departs”), like so: (LAMINA-TE)-D.

Down clues

1. Present aboard ship, tool that’s for Arctic walker? (8)

Answer: SNOWSHOE (i.e. “Arctic walker”). Solution is NOW (i.e. “present”) placed in or “aboard” SS (i.e. “ship”, specifically a recognised abbreviation for a steamship) and then followed by HOE (i.e. “tool”), like so: S(NOW)S-HOE.

2. Freezing bonus? (5)

Answer: ICING. Solution satisfies “freezing” and “bonus”, as in the well-known phrase “the icing on the cake”.

3. Greek character one to exaggerate as fortune-teller (11)

Answer: CHIROMANCER (i.e. “fortune-teller”). Solution is CHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by ROMANCER (i.e. “one to exaggerate”). It’s such a good word that I’m surprised we don’t use it more.

4. Crackers are not highly decorated (6)

Answer: ORNATE (i.e. “highly decorated”). “Crackers” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ARE NOT.

5. Pop star for example showing authority (6,6)

Answer: FATHER FIGURE (i.e. “authority”). Solution is FATHER (i.e. “pop”) followed by FIGURE (i.e. “star [for example]” – think of it as something like a pentangle than a heavenly body).

6. Start to accept representative house god in ancient vessel (7)

Answer: AMPHORA (i.e. “ancient vessel”). Solution is A (i.e. “start to accept”, i.e. the first letter of “accept”) followed by MP (i.e. “representative”, specifically a Member of Parliament), then HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) and RA (i.e. ancient Egyptian sun “god”), like so: A-MP-HO-RA.

7. Full references provided in CV? (7,3,5)

Answer: CHAPTER AND VERSE (i.e. “full”). Solution riffs on how the letters “CV” are recognised abbreviations or “references” of chapter and verse. An excellent clue that scans beautifully.

8. Thus salt diet recreated using only chips? (5-5)

Answer: SOLID-STATE (i.e. “using only chips” – refers to solid-state data storage, which use microchips as opposed to magnetic disks). Solution is SO (i.e. “thus”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “recreated”) of SALT DIET, like so: SO-LIDSTATE.

9. Vagrant snatching current file (7)

Answer: DOSSIER (i.e. “file”). Solution is DOSSER (i.e. “vagrant”) wrapped around or “snatching” I (a recognised abbreviation of an electric “current” used in physics), like so: DOSS(I)ER.

10. Allied with Italian, twice scoffed about first lady (11)

Answer: CONFEDERATE (i.e. “allied”). Solution is CON (i.e. “with Italian”, i.e. the Italian for “with”) followed by FED and ATE (i.e. “scoffed twice”) which is placed “about” ER (i.e. “first lady”, as in the Queen, or Elizabeth Regina), like so: CON-FED-(ER)-ATE.

11. Wind up eating this at Ship and get sozzled (9)

Answer: SPAGHETTI (i.e. “wind up eating” – referring to how you’d twist the stuff on your fork before giving up, shoving what you can in your mouth and slurping the rest down, splattering tomato sauce everywhere. No? Just me then…) “Sozzled” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AT SHIP and GET.

12. Flat race doesn’t need a versatile horse (7)

Answer: EVENTER (i.e. “versatile horse”). Solution is EVEN (i.e. “flat”) followed by TEAR (i.e. “race”, as in to tear about the place) with the A removed (indicated by “doesn’t need a”), like so: EVEN-TER.

19. Cat in river gets bony fish (7)

Answer: TELEOST (i.e. “bony fish” – no, me neither. Score one for my Bradfords for its lengthy list of fish). Solution is LEO (i.e. “cat” – referring to the sign of the zodiac, being a lion) placed in TEST (i.e. a “river” in Hampshire – I wonder if, during last year’s prolonged heat wave, it suffered a “dry run”. Geddit? No? Just me again then…), like so: TE(LEO)ST. I liked the clue somewhat more than the solution.

22. Little lad swallowing fly (8)

Answer: SMIDGEON (i.e. “little” – there are a few variant forms of the word “smidgen” it transpires). Solution is SON (i.e. “lad”) wrapped around or “swallowing” MIDGE (i.e. “fly”), like so: S(MIDGE)ON.

24. Satanic Hitler’s scheme finally dashed unrealistic hopes (7,2,3,3)

Answer: CASTLES IN THE AIR (i.e. “unrealistic hopes”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dashed”) of SATANIC HITLERS and E (i.e. “scheme finally”, i.e. the last letter of “scheme”). Good lord, this took me ages to spot, despite having scribbled “___ in the air” early on in the puzzle.

26. Approach open river (8)

Answer: OVERTURE (i.e. “approach” – an overture being the beginning of something, typically a musical composition). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “open”) followed by URE (i.e. a “river” in North Yorkshire).

27. Bond introduced to frustrate the racketeers (6)

Answer: TETHER (i.e. “bond”). “Introduced to” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: FRUSTRA(TE THE R)ACKETEERS.

28. Skip school – no time to run away (6)

Answer: GAMBOL (i.e. “skip”). Solution is GAM (i.e. a “school” of whales, another sneaky bit of wordplay I was wise to this time around) followed by BOLT (i.e. “to run away”) with the T removed (indicated by “no time”, T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: GAM-BOL.

32. Showed one short bloke embracing another (7)

Answer: EVINCED (i.e. “showed”). Solution is VINCE (i.e. “one short bloke”, i.e. a shortened form of Vincent) placed in or being “embraced” by ED (i.e. “another”, as in another shortened man’s name, this time Edward), like so: E(VINCE)D.

33. Centre for education? (6,6)

Answer: MIDDLE SCHOOL. Solution riffs on how “centre” can mean both a place and the middle of something. You get the idea.

35. Room for reflection? (4,7)

Answer: ECHO CHAMBER. Solution sneakily riffs on how echoing is a “reflection” of soundwaves. Again, you get the idea.

37. Forlorn setter maybe up for drink at noon (11)

Answer: GODFORSAKEN (i.e. “forlorn”). Solution is DOG (i.e. “setter maybe”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by FOR, then SAKE (i.e. “drink”) and N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”), like so: GOD-FOR-SAKE-N.

38. Processing for labs to do in criminal evidence? (10)

Answer: BLOODSTAIN (i.e. “criminal evidence”). “Processing for” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LABS TO DO IN. Another clue that scans rather well.

40. Opinion given in tussle with fielder (9)

Answer: VIEWPOINT (i.e. “opinion”). Solution is VIE (i.e. “tussle”), followed by W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) and then POINT (i.e. a “fielder” in cricket).

42. Malnourished when working to FBI agent? (8)

Answer: UNDERFED (i.e. “malnourished”). Solution is UNDER (i.e. “working to”) followed by FED (i.e. “FBI agent”).

43. Pass round an enclosure for animal fights in Roman temple (7)

Answer: CAPITOL (i.e. “Roman temple”). Solution is COL (i.e. a mountain “pass”) placed “round” A PIT (i.e. “an enclosure for animal fights”), like so: C(A-PIT)OL.

44. God’s contact book? (7)

Answer: NUMBERS, a “book” of the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish Torah. Solution riffs on how this could also be a phone book. Once again, I’m sure you get the idea.

46. Good monarch married, even one in a republic (7)

Answer: GERMANY (i.e. “republic”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by ER (i.e. “monarch”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), then M (a recognised abbreviation of “married”) and then ANY (i.e. “even”, I guess, though I can’t visualise a sentence where you’d substitute one for the other – maybe I need to sleep on it), like so: G-ER-M-ANY.

48. Note to be used in concert until proper arrangement is made (3,3)

Answer: PER TEM, which is a shortened form of the Latin “pro tempore”, meaning “for the time being” (i.e. “until proper arrangement is made”). Solution is TE (i.e. “note” in the do-ray-me scale) placed “in” PROM (i.e. “concert”), like so: PRO(TE)M.

51. Submarine about to disintegrate (1-4)

Answer: U-BOAT (i.e. “submarine”). “To disintegrate” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ABOUT.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1387

A toughie this week, with a number of weird and wacky solutions peppering the grid. As mentioned in previous posts, though, I don’t mind toughies so long as I’m camped out in a dictionary and not an atlas or past issues of The Lancet. So a good puzzle, all told, despite its chewiness.

You’ll find my completed grid below with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If you have an old grid that’s showing a few gaps then my Just For Fun page might also help you out. I’m also working my way through Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series – because, hell, why not? – reviews of which you can find on my Reviews page. A review of book seven will be coming soon, all being well.

Alrighty then, let’s get on with the show.


Across clues

1. Fail to reawaken love (4,2,7)

Answer: COME TO NOTHING (i.e. “fail”). Solution is COME TO (i.e. “reawaken”) followed by NOTHING (i.e. “love” in tennis).

8. Paper first soaked in petrol for American mechanics (9)

Answer: GARAGISTS (i.e. “mechanics”). Solution is RAG (i.e. “[news]paper”) and IST (i.e. “first” – the I representing 1) surrounded by or “soaked in” GAS (i.e. “petrol for American”, as in a short form of “gasoline”), like so: GA(RAG-IST)S. It’s in the dictionary, yes, but it sounds like the kind of thing someone would say when they can’t think of the word “mechanic”.

13. Hard to charge VAT and give credit (5)

Answer: THANK (i.e. “to give credit”). Solution is TANK (i.e. “vat” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) which is surrounding or being “charged” by H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard”), like so: T(H)ANK.

14. Obscure article by foolish judge (9)

Answer: ADUMBRATE (i.e. to overshadow or “obscure”). Solution is A (i.e. “article”) followed “by” DUMB (i.e. “foolish”) and RATE (i.e. “[to] judge”).

15. Cooler, almost frozen, in accordance with regulation (7)

Answer: CANONIC (i.e. “in accordance with regulation”). Solution is CAN (i.e. “cooler” – both slang terms for a jail cell) followed by ON ICE (i.e. “frozen”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”), like so: CAN-ON-IC.

16. Specially conceived arrival times on international train and airline (4-4,4)

Answer: TEST-TUBE BABY (i.e. “specially conceived arrival”). Solution is BY (i.e. “times”, as in “multiplied by”) which is placed after TEST (i.e. “international [cricket match]”), TUBE (i.e. “train”) and BA (i.e. “airline”, specifically British Airways), like so: TEST-TUBE-BA-BY.

17. An acknowledgement old car is showing age (4,6)

Answer: ANNO DOMINI (i.e. “age”). Solution is AN followed by NOD (i.e. “acknowledgement”), then O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and MINI (i.e. “car”). A clue that scans rather well.

18. Port placed by bread for knocking back (6)

Answer: NANTES (i.e. a French “port”). Solution is SET (i.e. “placed”) followed “by” NAN (i.e. “bread”, specifically an alternative spelling of “naan” also seen later in 34a) and both reversed (indicated by “knocking back”), like so: NAN-TES.

19. Harmless and in NI wise to vote Conservative (8)

Answer: NONTOXIC (i.e. “harmless”). Solution is NI wrapped around ONTO (i.e. “wise to”) and X (i.e. “vote”) and then followed by C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”), like so: N(ONTO-X)I-C.

21. Reckons detective sergeant in court is after promotion (4,2)

Answer: ADDS UP (i.e. “reckons”). Solution is DS (a recognised abbreviation of “detective sergeant”) and UP (i.e. “in court”, as in “up in front of the judge”) both placed “after” AD (i.e. “promotion”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “advertisement”), like so: AD-DS-UP.

24. Crosses from island – vintage craft initially makes fast crossing (10)

Answer: CRUCIFIXES (i.e. “crosses”). I reckon the solution comprises CRU (i.e. “vintage [champagne]”), C (i.e. “craft initially”, as in the first letter of “craft”), I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and FIXES (i.e. “makes fast”), like so: CRU-C-I-FIXES. I can’t see how this all scans in the clue, however, and it leaves “crossing” rather redundant, so I might not have that right.
[EDIT: Having slept on it, I can now see how this one scans. “Crossing” indicates the assorted elements making up the latter half of the clue are wrapped around I (i.e. “island”), like so: CRU-C-(I)-FIXES. Phew! – LP]

26. Cheat: They don’t or I’d explode! (2,3,5,2)

Answer: DO THE DIRTY ON (i.e. “cheat”). “Explode” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of THEY DONT OR ID.

29. Film balloonist: we understand what makes that difficult? (4)

Answer: Phileas FOGG (i.e. “balloonist” of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days). Within the context of the clue, it would be difficult to film Fogg through fog. Something like that, anyway. Not a classic.

30. Leave person with king, one nipping outside (8)

Answer: BREXITER (i.e. “leave person”, as in someone who voted for Britain to exit the European Union). Solution is REX (Latin for “king”) surrounded by or having “outside” BITER (i.e. “one nipping”), like so: B(REX)ITER. Hmm. I wasn’t aware this had made it into the dictionary already. I hope they’ve expanded the definitions for “gammon” as well, as that particular nom de guerre has rather passed me by.

31. What’s needed for radio broadcasts to flourish: musicians (8)

Answer: WAVEBAND (i.e. “what’s needed for radio broadcasts”). Solution is WAVE (i.e. “to flourish” – think of this more in terms of flourishing a weapon rather than doing well) followed by BAND (i.e. “musicians”).

34. Note carefully studied after taking in an Indian menu item (3,5)

Answer: NAN BREAD (i.e. “Indian menu item” – can be spelled “nan” or “naan”). Solution is NB (i.e. “note carefully”, short for the Latin “nota bene”) and READ (i.e. “studied”) which “takes in” AN, like so: N(AN)B-READ.

35. Rather stiff after exercising, sip these (8)

Answer: STEEPISH (i.e. “rather stiff”). “After exercising” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SIP THESE.

36. Fine as wine from cask tastes, with flipping body! (4)

Answer: OKAY (i.e. “fine”). Solution is OAKY (i.e. “as wine from cask tastes”) with the middle two letters reversed (indicated by “with flipping body”).

39. Occasionally hiding ring in each cushion (5,2,5)

Answer: EVERY SO OFTEN (i.e. “occasionally”). Solution is EVERY (i.e. “each”) and SOFTEN (i.e. “cushion”) wrapped around or “hiding” O (i.e. “ring”), like so: EVERY-S(O)OFTEN.

40. Scrap request from airy London criminal (3,3,4)

Answer: ANY OLD IRON (i.e. “scrap request”). “Criminal” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AIRY LONDON. A clue that scans rather well.

43. Not flat when bound (6)

Answer: ASLOPE (i.e. “not flat”). Solution is AS (i.e. “when”) and LOPE (i.e. “[to] bound”).

44. Flies heavenward, as owls do with puss moving about (8)

Answer: UPSHOOTS (i.e. “flies heavenwards”). Solution is HOOT (i.e. “as owls do”) surrounded by (indicated by “about”) an anagram (indicated by “moving”) of PUSS, like so: UPS(HOOT)S. Another rather well-worked clue.

45. Far from fresh aniseed drink: time for a second? (4,2)

Answer: PAST IT (i.e. “far from fresh”). Solution is PASTIS (i.e. “aniseed drink” – a new one on me) with the final S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) swapped for a T (ditto “time”). Another good clue!

49. Garden pest munched all around reserve valve in channel (10)

Answer: SLUICEGATE (i.e. “valve in channel”). Solution is SLUG (i.e. “garden pest” – tsk, don’t I know it. My poor chillies!) and ATE (i.e. “munched”) placed “around” ICE (i.e. “reserve”, as in having an icy nature), like so: SLU(ICE)G-ATE.

51. The press the object of such false adulation? (8,4)

Answer: CUPBOARD LOVE, which, according to my Chambers, is a “hypocritical show of affection for material gain” (i.e. “false adulation”). Fair enough. I can’t see how this relates to the rest of the clue, however. Anyone?
[EDIT: A big thank you to Lee in the comments for shedding some light on this one. – LP]

53. Local taxi company in time (7)

Answer: AUBERGE (i.e. an inn or “local” – also my favourite song by Chris Rea, because you needed to know that). Solution is UBER (i.e. “taxi company”) placed “in” AGE (i.e. “time”), like so: A(UBER)GE.

54. Six pitied for forging uncorroborated statement (4,5)

Answer: IPSE DIXIT, which is Latin for “he himself said it” (i.e. “uncorroborated statement”). “For forging” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SIX PITIED. Latin not being my first language, I had to fall back on the rather obvious wordplay and a fair amount of thumbing through my Chambers to find the solution.

55. Palm lacerated after spinning bottles (5)

Answer: ARECA (i.e. “palm” – one for the botanists out there). “Bottles” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “spinning” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: L(ACERA)TED. I loved the clue a lot more than I did the solution.

56. Fur-coated drag specialist, say, about to pass quickly through Oscar party (6,3)

Answer: ESKIMO DOG (i.e. “fur-coated drag specialist”, given they pull sledges). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) wrapped “about” SKIM (i.e. “pass quickly through”), O (“Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) and DO (i.e. “party”), like so: E(SKIM-O-DO)G.

57. Newspaper returned private style guide for players (4,9)

Answer: TIME SIGNATURE (i.e. “guide for [music] players”). Solution is TIMES (i.e. “newspaper”) followed by GI (i.e. “private” of the US Army) which is reversed (indicated by “returned”) and then itself followed by NATURE (i.e. “style”), like so: TIMES-IG-NATURE.

Down clues

1. Senseless, not moving pet trembling in coat (9)

Answer: CATATONIC (i.e. “senseless, not moving”). Solution is CAT (i.e. “pet”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “trembling”) of IN COAT, like so: CAT-ATONIC.

2. Imaginary body of peacekeepers pursuing method (4,3)

Answer: MEAN SUN, which is “an imaginary sun moving uniformly in the equator, it’s position giving mean time” (i.e. “imaginary body”). Solution is MEANS (i.e. “method”) being “pursued” by UN (i.e. “peacekeepers”, specifically the United Nations). Another nod to my Chambers, though the wordplay made it fairly easy to deduce.

3. Maybe go for a constitutional approach with article and broadcast (4,3,3)

Answer: TAKE THE AIR (i.e. “maybe go for a constitutional”). Solution is TAKE (i.e. “approach”) followed by THE (i.e. “article”) and AIR (i.e. “broadcast”).

4. Close bank up in the city (6)

Answer: NEARBY (i.e. “close”). Solution is BRAE (i.e. a Scots word for a “[river]bank”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and placed “in” NY (i.e. “city”, specifically New York), like so: N(EARB)Y.

5. As dictionary perhaps facilitating digital access? (5-7)

Answer: THUMB-INDEXED (i.e. “as dictionary perhaps”, as in those notches cut into the block of pages – I’ve known them well this week…). Solution riffs on how THUMB and INDEX are “digits” of one’s hand. You get the idea.

6. Drinking in admission of corruption, right away (8)

Answer: IMBIBING (i.e. “drinking”). Solution is I’M BRIBING (i.e. “admission of corruption”) with the R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) removed (indicated by “away”).

7. Ugly dame wanting tips to become alluring (4)

Answer: GLAM (i.e. “alluring”). “Wanting tips” indicates the solution is derived by removing the first and last letters of UGLY DAME.

8. Briefing, ultimately lengthier, could give us something to go on (5,5)

Answer: GREEN LIGHT (i.e. “something to go on”). Solution is G (i.e. “briefing, ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “briefing”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “could be”) of LENGTHIER, like so: G-REENLIGHT.

9. Minister having somewhere to play rock (6)

Answer: RECTOR (i.e. “minister”). Solution is REC (i.e. “somewhere to play”, short for “recreation area”) followed by TOR (i.e. “rock”).

10. One for the p(l)ot? (9,3)

Answer: GUNPOWDER TEA. No, me neither. I do rather like the clue, however, which riffs on the Gunpowder Plot which did for Guy Fawkes and chums, and the tea “pot” you’d steep said gunpowder tea.

11. Mount rising in Aleutian island (5)

Answer: SINAI (i.e. “mount”, as featured in all your favourite holy books). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “rising” indicates the solution is reversed, this being a down clue, like so: ALEUT(IAN IS)LAND.

12. Time for a speech, pithy, in separate ways, and light (2,8,3)

Answer: ST CRISPIN’S DAY. Solution refers to a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V in which the titular king gives a speech on St Crispin’s Day. Don’t worry, I don’t do Shakespeare much either. Anyway, the solution, as best as I can make it, is ST and INS (both “ways”, the former a recognised abbreviation of “street”) “separating” CRISP (i.e. terse or “pithy”) and then followed by DAY (i.e. “light”), like so: ST-CRISP-INS-DAY. Not a classic.

20. Motored east, after calibrating this? (8)

Answer: ODOMETER, which measures the distance travelled by a wheeled vehicle. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “after calibrating”) of MOTORED and E (a recognised abbreviation of “east”). Within the context of the clue, you might well motor after calibrating the odometer, getting the car back in the driveway just before the guy from webuyanycar.com turns up. You get the idea.

22. One taking flight from Scottish island runs across sailor (9)

Answer: SKYJACKER (i.e. a hijacker or “one taking flight”). Solution is SKYE (i.e. “Scottish island”) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games) wrapped around or “across” JACK (i.e. one of many words meaning “sailor”), like so: SKY(JACK)E-R.

23. Long distance runner, first in race, over the moon with congratulations (3,5)

Answer: RIO BRAVO (i.e. “long distance runner”, as in the Spanish name for the Rio Grande river forming part of the Mexico-United States border). Solution is R (i.e. “first in race”, i.e. the first letter of “race”) followed by or placed “over” IO (i.e. “moon” of Jupiter) and followed by BRAVO (i.e. “congratulations”).

25. Not “nice”, cutting head off strong-smelling fish (9)

Answer: UNGENTEEL (i.e. “not ‘nice’”). Solution is PUNGENT (i.e. “strong-smelling”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “cutting head off”) and EEL (i.e. “fish”), like so: UNGENT-EEL.

27. Part of prison project following suggestion one’s abandoned (5,3)

Answer: DEATH ROW (i.e. “part of prison”). I’m not 100% on this one, but my solution is THROW (i.e. “project”) which “follows” DE-A (i.e. “suggestion one’s abandoned” – I guess we’re riffing on how the prefix “de-” indicates something that’s being removed, and how “a” can be “one”), like so: DE-A-THROW. Not a clue I’m keen on.

28. Exit this awfully low place? (8)

Answer: SIXTIETH (i.e. “low place”). “Awfully” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EXIT THIS.

29. Fan’s weakening when involved in hard work! (9,4)

Answer: FINNEGAN’S WAKE, a notorious “hard work” by Irish writer James Joyce. “When involved” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FANS WEAKENING. A really well-worked clue, this.

32. Diagram by fellow’s firstly plotting treatment that’s shocking and unusual (1-3,8)

Answer: X-RAY SPECTRUM (i.e. “diagram” – rather than typing in a block of explanatory text, just trust me on this). Solution is X (i.e. “by” as in the multiplication symbol) followed by RAY’S (i.e. “fellow’s”), then P (i.e. “firstly plotting”, i.e. the first letter of “plotting”), then ECT (i.e. “treatment that’s shocking”, specifically Electroconvulsive Therapy), and finally RUM (i.e. “unusual”), like so: X-RAYS-P-ECT-RUM. Bloody hell…

33. Evidence given here: intelligence heads having fight to stop it (7,5)

Answer: WITNESS BOXES (i.e. “evidence given here”). Solution is WIT (i.e. “intelligence”) and NESSES (i.e. “heads”, as in the geographical feature) surrounding or being “stopped” by BOX (i.e. “fight”), like so: WIT-NESS(BOX)ES.

37. Discouraging start, playing golf (3-7)

Answer: OFF-PUTTING (i.e. “discouraging”). Solution is OFF (i.e. “start”) followed by PUTTING (i.e. “playing golf”).

38. Journalist battles female associated with hunt for period items (10)

Answer: EDWARDIANA (i.e. “period items”). Solution is ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “editor”), followed by WAR (i.e. a series of “battles”) and DIANA (i.e. “female [Roman goddess] associated with hunt”).

41. Scot’s wild, maybe, cornering cardinal in cathedral (5,4)

Answer: NOTRE DAME (i.e. “cathedral”). Solution is NO TAME (i.e. “Scot’s wild, maybe” – “no” being a Scots form of “not”) surrounding or “cornering” RED (i.e. “cardinal”), like so: NO-T(RED)AME. A repeated solution from a couple of weeks ago. I can only assume there must have been something in the news recently. (Rubs chin.)

42. Brother, not silent presumably, sounding abrasive (8)

Answer: CORUNDUM (i.e. an “abrasive” mineral). Solution is COR (i.e. “brother” – both taken to be exclamations) followed by UNDUM (i.e. “not silent presumably, sounding”, i.e. a homophone of “undumb” – I really wish setters would stop using non-existent words as homophones). Not a classic. I’ll admit part of this solution came from Skyrim. It rather has its hooks in me at the moment. Again.

46. French writer, still with regiment, put on a uniform (7)

Answer: Henry David THOREAU. This may very well not be correct, as this particular Hank was a Yank, not French. Still, here goes. My solution is THO (i.e. “still”, as in a shortened form of “though”) followed by RE (i.e. “regiment”, specifically the Royal Engineers), then A and finally U (i.e. “uniform” – not an abbreviation explicitly recognised in my Chambers, but is used in the initials UBR – Uniform Business Rate), like so: THO-RE-A-U. Yuck, in a word.
[EDIT: Lee comes to the rescue again in the comments, clarifying the U. Thanks, Lee! – LP]

47. Was fitting answer being given to pig? (6)

Answer: AGREED (i.e. “was fitting”). Solution is A (recognised abbreviation of “answer”, as in Q&A) followed by GREED (i.e. “being given to pig”, or, slightly rephrased, a pig that is given to being greedy).

48. Scruffy kid chasing game (6)

Answer: RAGTAG (i.e. “scruffy”). Solution is RAG (i.e. “[to] kid”) followed by TAG (i.e. “chasing game”).

50. Asian unknown to live in this country (5)

Answer: UZBEK (i.e. “Asian” citizen of Uzbekistan). Solution is Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters like referring to X, Y or Z in their solutions as unknowns) and BE (i.e. “to live”) placed “in” UK (i.e. “this country”, The Times being a newspaper of the United Kingdom), like so: U(Z-BE)K.

52. Here’s a secret spy’s oddly concealed, by the way (4)

Answer: PSST (i.e. “here’s a secret” – okay, it’s in the dictionary, but still…). Solution is PS (i.e. “spy’s oddly concealed”, i.e. the odd letters removed from SPY’S) followed “by” ST (i.e. “the way”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: PS-ST.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1386

Blimey, the puns were strong with this one, weren’t they? Having had some distance now from solving the puzzle, I can appreciate how well a number of clues played out, but it didn’t feel that way at the time! For some reason it took me as long to solve the top-left-hand corner as it did the rest of the grid. Never mind, I got there in the end.

You can find my completed grid below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. A spot of housekeeping before we begin, in time-honoured fashion. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword for which you have a few gaps, then you might find my Just For Fun page of use. If you have a soft spot for reading horror fiction then there are a few tasty morsels in my Reviews page that might interest you. I’m currently working my way through the entire run of Best New Horror. Still a few books to go!

Anyway, let’s crack on, shall we?


Across clues

1. Head of Sixth leaving teacher in class to teach wrongly? (9)

Answer: MISINFORM (i.e. “to teach wrongly”). Solution is MISS (i.e. “teacher”) with an S removed (indicated by “Head of Sixth leaving”, i.e. the first letter of “Sixth”), then followed by IN and then FORM (i.e. “class”), like so: MIS-IN-FORM. One of a number of clues that scan rather well.

6. Fat cat running courses (7)

Answer: CROESUS, a very rich man, after the King of Lydia, it says here (i.e. “fat cat”). “Running” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of COURSES. Not one I’m familiar with. Luckily the wordplay was a tad more obvious than the solution.

10. Passage in tabloid is rejected (5)

Answer: SINUS (i.e. “passage”). Solution is SUN (i.e. “tabloid”) and IS both reversed (indicated by “rejected”), like so: SI-NUS.

13. Information not available about what constitutes place of punishment (7)

Answer: GEHENNA, which, to quote my Chambers, is “the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, in which the Israelites sacrificed their children to Moloch, and to which, at a later time, the refuse of the city was conveyed to be burned; hence hell” (i.e. “place of punishment”). Solution is GEN (i.e. “information”) and N/A (a recognised abbreviation of “not available”) placed “about” EH (i.e. “what”, as in “I beg your pardon?”), like so: G(EH)EN-NA. How times change. Nowadays, hell is that scary little shit off the AA adverts murdering Proud Mary every ten minutes. Maybe that’s just me.

14. Block digital protection (5)

Answer: STALL. Solution satisfies “block” and “digital protection” – a stall being a covering for a finger. You’ll sometimes see sporty types wear them to protect their pinkies.

15. A criminal catching disease being loaded (9)

Answer: AFFLUENCE (i.e. being rich or “loaded”). Solution is A then FENCE (i.e. “criminal”, as in one who deals in stolen goods) which is wrapped around or “catching” FLU (i.e. “disease”), like so: A-F(FLU)ENCE.

16. TV ad that’ll cause some to switch over to the other side (5,9,9)

Answer: PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST. Clue plays on how “switch over to the other side” can mean changing TV channels or switching political allegiances. A clue that rather chimed with your politically-disaffected correspondent.

17. Bird having ring ouzel’s head and eagle’s tail (6)

Answer: HOOPOE (i.e. “bird” – did a Google Image search – it looks like the kind of thing I’d have doodled when I was eight years old, i.e. a bit bonkers.) Solution is HOOP (i.e. “ring”) followed by O (i.e. “ouzel’s head”, i.e. the first letter of “ouzel”) and E (i.e. “eagle’s tail”, i.e. the last letter of “eagle”).

18. Device giving go-ahead for soldiers to penetrate area that’s been shelled (3,5)

Answer: EGG TIMER. Clue plays on how “soldiers” can also mean strips of bread used to dunk into soft-boiled eggs, and how “shell” can refer to both artillery and the outer casing of an egg. You get the idea.

19. Paint a pack of hounds with vermin cut off (7)

Answer: ACRYLIC (i.e. “paint”). Solution is A then CRY (i.e. “pack of hounds”) and LICE (i.e. “vermin” – the term applies to insects as well as small animals) with the last letter removed (indicated by “cut off”), like so: A-CRY-LIC.

22. Scruffy pair? Mend it and press (5,5)

Answer: PRINT MEDIA (i.e. “[the] press”). “Scruffy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PAIR MEND IT. This took me way longer than it ought to, despite seeing early doors that this was going to be an anagram. I struggled even when I had all the intersecting letters completed. Sometimes I just don’t see ’em.

23. No right to get Chemistry, say, without one’s submission (12)

Answer: ACQUIESCENCE (i.e. “submission”). Solution is ACQUIRE (i.e. “to get”) with the R removed (indicated by “no right”, R being a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and then followed by SCIENCE (i.e. “Chemistry, perhaps”) with the I removed (indicated by “without [Roman numeral] one”), like so: ACQUIE-SCENCE.

27. Waste from metal symbolically rendered (5)

Answer: OFFAL (i.e. “waste”). Solution is OFF (i.e. “from”, as in “that scary little shit off the AA adverts”) followed by AL (i.e. “metal symbolically”, specifically the chemical symbol for aluminium).

29. Mobile or mikes for bugging (7)

Answer: IRKSOME (i.e. “bugging”). “Mobile” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OR MIKES. Another seemingly obvious anagram that took me longer than it should.

30. Not initially fleeced, smaller lamb will be (8)

Answer: HORNLESS (i.e. “lamb will be”). Solution is SHORN (i.e. “fleeced”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “not initially”) and then followed by LESS (i.e. “smaller”).

32. Idle fellow entertaining religious scholar with his belief system (8)

Answer: BUDDHISM (i.e. “belief system”). Solution is BUM (i.e. “idle fellow”) wrapped around or “entertaining” DD (i.e. “religious scholar”, specifically a Divinitatis Doctor, or Doctor of Divinity – we’ve seen this in a few Times clues now) and HIS, like so: BU(DD-HIS)M.

34. A racehorse with energy in first place, one hears (7)

Answer: EARDRUM (i.e. “one hears”). Solution is A and RED RUM (i.e. “racehorse”) with the E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) moved to “first place”, i.e. E-A-RD-RUM.

36. Cleo cut short halfway through snake’s embrace (5)

Answer: CLASP (i.e. “embrace”). Solution is CL (i.e. “Cleo cut short halfway through”) followed by ASP (i.e. “snake”). A rather well-worked clue.

39. Not a landowner – one with under a dozen workers? (6,6)

Answer: TENANT FARMER, as in one who rents a farm (i.e. “not a landowner”). Solution plays on how “workers” can be ants, and with less than a dozen of them this could make our farmer a TEN ANT FARMER.

41. Artist’s endless row with journalist ultimately in newspapers (10)

Answer: SCULPTRESS (i.e. “artist”). Solution is SCULL (i.e. “row [a boat]”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endless”) and followed by T (i.e. “journalist ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “journalist”) once it has been placed “in” PRESS (i.e. “newspapers”), like so: SCUL-P(T)RESS.

44. Potter receiving stick for Black going down? (3,4)

Answer: CUE BALL (i.e. “potter”). Within the context of the clue, a CUE BALL would be struck by the cue – i.e. “receiving stick” – in order for the “black [ball] going down”. You get the idea.

46. Sap parasites returning to infest wood, edges chewed off (8)

Answer: IMBECILE (i.e. “sap”). Solution is LICE (i.e. “parasites”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and “infesting” or placed inside TIMBER (i.e. “wood”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “edges chewed off”), like so: IMB(ECIL)E. Another clue that scans rather well.

48. No longer healthy to produce emissions (6)

Answer: EXHALE (i.e. “to produce emissions”). “No longer healthy” can be read as EX-HALE (as in “hale and hearty”).

50. Web firm resolved perverse incentive to rid content of art (8,7,8)

Answer: INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER (i.e. “web firm” – techie pedants may want to chip in here). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “resolved”) of PERVERSE INCENTIVE TO RID which is then followed by R (i.e. “content of art”, i.e. the middle letter of “art”).

53. Pony tour down to exclude beginners? That’ll be without me! (2,4,3)

Answer: ON YOUR OWN (i.e. “that’ll be without me”). “Exclude beginners” indicates the solution can be derived by removing the initial letters of PONY TOUR DOWN.

54. Useless writer held back by sex (5)

Answer: INEPT (i.e. “useless”). Solution is PEN (i.e. “writer”) reversed and contained within (indicated by “held back by”) IT (i.e. “sex”, as in “doing it”, “having it off”, “at it like knives” and so forth), like so: I(NEP)T.

55. Append final note – one of these? (7)

Answer: ADDENDA. Solution is ADD (i.e. “append”) followed by END (i.e. “final”) and A (i.e. “[musical] note”). Within the context of the clue, addenda could comprise appended final notes. A nice bit of recursion there.

56. Quaint end of old cloth (5)

Answer: TWEED (i.e. “cloth”). Solution is TWEE (i.e. “quaint”) followed by D (i.e. “end of old”, i.e. the last letter of “old”).

57. Unconscious after drink having to leave society? (4,3)

Answer: DROP OUT (i.e. “to leave society”). Solution is OUT (i.e. “unconscious”) placed “after” DROP (i.e. “drink”).

58. Soldier to change sides twice (6,3)

Answer: DESERT RAT (i.e. “soldier” – you can check why from the last time it appeared a fortnight ago). Solution riffs on how DESERT and RAT are both words meaning “to change sides”. A good clue, despite how recently the solution has been repeated.

Down clues

1. Study of foolish character on horse (3,2)

Answer: MUG UP (i.e. “[to] study” – not one I’m familiar with, but it’s there in the dictionary). Solution is MUG (i.e. “foolish character”) followed by UP (i.e. “on horse”).

2. Swingball in one’s backyard? (6,2,9)

Answer: SPHERE OF INFLUENCE, which is “any region where one nation has a dominant influence”. Taking influence to mean “swing” and sphere to mean “ball”, I guess that means said region is “one’s backyard”. I can’t decide whether I like this clue or whether it’s too smug for its own good.

3. Over-protective, vigorously criticise butter (5,4)

Answer: NANNY GOAT (i.e. “butter”, as in a thing that headbutts – I audibly groaned when this finally clicked. A few swear words may have slipped out too.) Solution is NANNY (i.e. “over-protective”) followed by [have a…] GO AT (i.e. “vigorously criticise”).

4. Speaker setting out opposing sides of argument between two alternatives (6)

Answer: ORATOR (i.e. “speaker”). Solution is AT (i.e. “opposing sides of argument”, i.e. the first and last letters of “argument”) placed “between” OR and OR (i.e. “two alternatives”), like so: OR-AT-OR. Another clue that scans really well.

5. Very old relative’s problem with web page? (7,4)

Answer: MISSING LINK. Solution satisfies “problem with web page” and “very old relative”, assuming we weren’t dumped on this planet by aliens, of course. (Orders tinfoil hat.)

6. Things once drawn from events worse than Boston tea party? (8)

Answer: CHARIOTS (i.e. “things once [horse-]drawn”). “Boston tea party” refers to a moment leading to the American Revolution, when dastardly Brits had a load of their tea dumped into Boston harbour by angry Americans in protest at having no hand in deciding the laws governing them. A dust-up ensued, which an aspiring punsmith could describe as CHA RIOTS. Another that had me groaning when it finally clicked.

7. Give bribe, perhaps, for source of cosmetic ingredient (3,4)

Answer: OIL PALM. Solution satisfies “give bribe, perhaps” and “source of cosmetic ingredient”, specifically palm oil, weirdly enough.

8. Nasty smell between cliff and unpleasant seaside resort (11)

Answer: SCARBOROUGH (i.e. “seaside resort”). Solution is BO (i.e. “nasty smell”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “body odour”) placed “between” SCAR (another name for a “cliff”) and ROUGH (i.e. “unpleasant”), like so: SCAR-BO-ROUGH. A bit of a mean clue, all said!

9. Stifle vocal county rowing team (9)

Answer: SUFFOCATE (i.e. “stifle”). “Vocal” indicates the solution is a homophone of SUFFOLK (i.e. “county”) and EIGHT (i.e. “rowing team”).

10. Vibration from milk production centre, quiet at first (7)

Answer: SHUDDER (i.e. “vibration”). Solution is UDDER (i.e. “milk production centre”) with SH (i.e. “quiet”) placed “at first”, like so: SH-UDDER.

11. Killer policeman in Jamaica is hiding (5)

Answer: NINJA (i.e. “killer”). “Is hiding” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: POLICEMA(N IN JA)MAICA.

12. Departs after show with rings round the eyes? (10)

Answer: SPECTACLED (i.e. “with rings round the eyes”). Solution is SPECTACLE (i.e. “show”) with D (a recognised abbreviation of “departs”) placed “after” it.

17. Fruit on Italian flower, one that’s large and fleshy (5)

Answer: HIPPO (i.e. “one that’s large and fleshy”). Solution is HIP (i.e. “fruit”, specifically a rosehip) followed by PO (i.e. “Italian flower”, specifically the River Po). I was wise to the punning by this point.

20. Outside design contractor secures head, up-and-coming Frenchman with pull (9,8)

Answer: LANDSCAPE GARDENER (i.e. “outside design contractor”). Solution is LANDS (i.e. “secures”) followed by CAPE (i.e. “head”, as in the geographical feature) then RENE (i.e. “Frenchman”) and DRAG (i.e. “pull”) both reversed (indicated by “up-and-coming”, this being a down clue), like so: LANDS-CAPE-GARD-ENER. Another recent repeat, it seems.

21. House of stone in India (6)

Answer: GEMINI (i.e. “house” – signs of the zodiac are also called “houses”). Solution is GEM (i.e. “stone”) followed by IN and then I (“India” in the phonetic alphabet).

24. Fruit for woman to shout about (6)

Answer: CHERRY (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is HER (i.e. “woman”) with CRY (i.e. “shout”) placed “about” like so: C(HER)RY.

25. Mostly hit it off, embracing love in gut reaction (5)

Answer: COLIC (i.e. “gut reaction”). Solution is CLICK (i.e. “hit it off”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and wrapped around or “embracing” O (i.e. “love”, being a zero score in tennis), like so: C(O)LIC.

26. Leave me out of summons, to be consistent (6)

Answer: COHERE (i.e. “to be consistent”). Solution is COME HERE (i.e. “summons”) with ME removed (indicated by “leave me out”).

28. Young man being featured regularly in Loaded (5)

Answer: LADEN (i.e. “loaded”). Solution is LAD (i.e. “young man”) followed by every other letter (indicated by “regularly”) of BEING, like so: LAD-EN.

31. Run, walk, walk (6)

Answer: RAMBLE (i.e. “walk”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “run” used in ball games) followed by AMBLE (i.e. “walk”).

33. Mounted strike, getting unexpected rise – enthusiastic about gains via union (7,4)

Answer: MARRIES INTO (i.e. “gains via union”). Solution is RAM (i.e. “strike”) reversed (indicated by “mounted”, this being a down clue) followed by an anagram (indicated by “unexpected”) of RISE and then followed by INTO (i.e. “enthusiastic about”), like so: MAR-RIES-INTO. Another clue that scans really well.

35. Remembered to gather in grass (11)

Answer: RECOLLECTED (i.e. “remembered”). Solution is COLLECT (i.e. “to gather”) placed “in” REED (i.e. “grass”), like so: RE(COLLECT)ED.

37. Group of friends sit around smoking in van (5)

Answer: POSSE (i.e. “group of friends”). Solution is POSE (i.e. to “sit” for an artist) placed “around” S (i.e. “smoking in van”, i.e. the first letter of “smoking” – “van” in this case is a recognised abbreviation of “vanguard”, i.e. “at the front”), like so: PO(S)SE.

38. Don’t give up project to introduce computers (5,2,3)

Answer: STICK IT OUT (i.e. “don’t give up”). Solution is STICK OUT (i.e. “project”) wrapped around or “introducing” IT (i.e. “computers”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Information Technology), like so: STICK-(IT)-OUT.

40. Deception of one pretending to be criminal? (9)

Answer: FALSEHOOD. Solution satisfies “deception” and “one pretending to be criminal”, i.e. a FALSE HOOD.

42. Socialist, the first character to get cross at elevating one cheating exchequer (3,6)

Answer: TAX EVADER (i.e. “one cheating exchequer”). Solution is RED (i.e. “socialist”) followed by A (i.e. “the first character” or first letter of the alphabet) then VEX (i.e. “to get cross”) and AT, all reversed (indicated by “elevated”, this being a down clue), like so: TA-XEV-A-DER. Another clue that scans really well.

43. Wrong blood group supplied to crash in West End? (8)

Answer: OCCIDENT (i.e. “in West End” – Occident refers to the West). I’ve chewed over this one for hours, and all throughout the production of this blog post, and only now does it finally fall into place! The solution is ACCIDENT (i.e. “crash”) with the initial A (a “blood group”) swapped for O (another “blood group”). Seems so simple now I’ve written it down.

45. A good circuit – but you won’t be able to move after running it! (7)

Answer: AGROUND (i.e. “you won’t be able to move after running it”). Solution is A then G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and finally ROUND (i.e. “circuit”).

47. Our Brit cooking that’s eaten in Mexico (7)

Answer: BURRITO (i.e. “that’s eaten in Mexico”). “Cooking” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OUR BRIT. I think I’ve got John Scalzi’s Twitter feed to largely thank for this one.

49. Wetland thoroughfares (6)

Answer: BROADS. Solution satisfies “wetlands” (greetings from Norfolk!) and “thoroughfares”, i.e. B-ROADS.

51. Your old setter, one going to pot? (5)

Answer: THYME (i.e. “one [plant] going to pot”). Solution is THY (i.e. “your old”, i.e. ye olde “your”) followed by ME (i.e. “setter”, as in the one who set the puzzle).

52. Tripe keeping when cooked a certain way (5)

Answer: ROAST (i.e. “cooked in a certain way”). Solution is ROT (i.e. “tripe”, as in something that’s rubbish) wrapped around or “keeping” AS (i.e. “when”), like so: RO(AS)T.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1385

A easier time of it this week. A rule of thumb I tend to use when judging the difficulty of these things is comparing how long they take for me to solve against how long it takes for me to type up their solutions. Often the easier puzzles take longer to type up.

Anyway, useless information aside, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope they help.

As ever, some housekeeping before we begin. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you are missing a few answers then my Just For Fun page might help you. Leavening these crossword posts is the occasional book review. If horror is your thing, then my Reviews page might appeal.

Right, on with the show. I’ll see you around. Time to grab a bite to eat before the footie.


Across clues

1. Break even in other school at first (9)

Answer: ELEVENSES (i.e. “break”). Solution is EVEN placed “in” ELSE (i.e. “other”) and then followed by S (i.e. “school at first”), like so: EL(EVEN)SE-S.

6. Old fogey’s current article into flak and slander (5-2-3-3)

Answer: STICK IN THE MUD (i.e. “old fogey”). Solution is IN (i.e. “current”) and THE (i.e. “article”) placed between or “into” STICK (i.e. “flak”, as in “taking stick from someone”) “and” MUD (i.e. “slander”), like so: STICK-(IN-THE)-MUD.

13. Girl in Ginsberg poem a male spurned (5)

Answer: ERICA (i.e. “girl”). Solution is AMERICA (i.e. “Ginsberg poem”) with the A and M removed from the beginning (indicated by “a male spurned” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “male”).

14. Follow ark in travels? It’s possible but unlikely (3,3,1,4)

Answer: FOR ALL I KNOW (i.e. “it’s possible but unlikely”). “Travels” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FOLLOW ARK IN.

15. British working with American commission (5)

Answer: BONUS (i.e. “commission”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) followed by ON (i.e. “working”) and US (i.e. “American”).

16. One may appear in September morns to have changed somewhat (7,4)

Answer: HARVEST MOON (i.e. “one may appear in September”). “Changed somewhat” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MORNS TO HAVE.

17. In my case, stand at the front for hymn (5,4,2)

Answer: ABIDE WITH ME (i.e. “hymn”). Solution is WITH ME (i.e. “in my case”) with ABIDE (i.e. to bear or “stand”) placed “at the front”.

18. Figure Greek character right to interrupt repast (7)

Answer: NUMERAL (i.e. “figure”). Solution is NU (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) once it has been placed in or “interrupting” MEAL (i.e. “repast”), like so: NU-ME(R)AL.

20. Retired professors from Cambridge ultimately deserve one (7)

Answer: EMERITI (i.e. “retired professors”). Solution is E (i.e. “Cambridge ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “Cambridge”) followed by MERIT (i.e. “deserve”) and I (Roman numeral “one”).

21. Court at the end presented with motive for crime (7)

Answer: TREASON (i.e. “crime”). Solution is T (i.e. “court at the end”, i.e. the last letter of “court”) followed by REASON (i.e. “motive”).

23. Two honourable guys employing singular valet (10,9)

Answer: GENTLEMAN’S GENTLEMAN (i.e. “valet”). Solution is GENTLEMAN twice (i.e. “two honourable guys”) “employing” or surrounding S (a recognised abbreviation of “singular”), like so: GENTLEMAN-(S)-GENTLEMAN.

27. Primate’s practical joke judge ignored (3)

Answer: APE (i.e. “primate”). Solution is JAPE (i.e. “practical joke”) with the initial J removed (indicated by “judge ignored” – J being a recognised abbreviation of “judge”).

28. Belief unacceptable across India (6)

Answer: NOTION (i.e. “belief”). Solution is NOT ON (i.e. “unacceptable”) surrounding or placed “across” I (“India” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: NOT-(I)-ON.

29. Passage which includes short argument (6)

Answer: THROAT (i.e. “passage”). Solution is THAT (i.e. “which”) wrapped around or “including” ROW (i.e. “argument”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”), like so: TH(RO)AT.

31. Female worker getting help, we hear, for a Walter Mitty type? (9)

Answer: FANTASIST (i.e. “Walter Mitty type”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) followed by ANT (i.e. “worker”) and ASIST (i.e. “help, we hear”, i.e. a homophone of “assist” – I’ve said this before, I know, but this is cheap of the setter. In my view, said homophone should exist in the dictionary. (Rages impotently at the sky.))

34. Old soldiers work after hours in place employing cheap labour (9)

Answer: SWEATSHOP (i.e. “place employing cheap labour”). Solution is SWEATS (i.e. an “old” slang word for “soldiers”) followed by OP (i.e. “work”, short for “operation”) once it has been placed “after” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hours”) like so: SWEATS-(H)-OP.

35. Notorious bar, mostly clean (6)

Answer: PUBLIC (i.e. “notorious”). Solution is PUB (i.e. “bar”) followed by LICK (i.e. “[to] clean”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “mostly”).

36. Gluttonous type in car fed by girl (6)

Answer: GANNET (i.e. “gluttonous type”). Solution is GT (i.e. “car”, short for Gran Turismo) placed around or “fed by” ANNE (i.e. “girl”), like so: G(ANNE)T.

39. Eggs in surplus, according to report (3)

Answer: OVA (i.e. “eggs”). “According to report” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of OVER (i.e. “in surplus”).

40. What’s required to play Poohsticks, a prior issue now resolved? (5,5,3,6)

Answer: WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE. Solution satisfies “what’s required to play Poohsticks” and “a prior issue now resolved”.

42. Girl in that place sat endlessly (7)

Answer: THERESA (i.e. “girl”). Solution is THERE (i.e. “in that place”) followed by SAT with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”).

43. Passionate us after a second run out (7)

Answer: AMOROUS (i.e. “passionate”). Solution is US placed “after” A then MO (i.e. “second”, as in “just a mo, please”) then RO (a recognised abbreviation of “run out” used in some ball games), like so: A-MO-RO-US.

45. Backache? Penny must leave plant (7)

Answer: LUMBAGO (i.e. “backache”). Solution is PLUMBAGO (i.e. “plant”) with the P removed (indicated by “penny must leave”, P being a recognised abbreviation for “penny”). A weird case of me getting the clue from the solution.

47. Sodium, for instance, contaminated a lake at mill (6,5)

Answer: ALKALI METAL (i.e. “sodium, for instance”). “Contaminated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A LAKE AT MILL. A clue that scans rather well.

49. Charles Pooter’s kid? One not easily deceived (7,4)

Answer: NOBODY’S FOOL (i.e. “one not easily deceived”). Solution is NOBODY’S (i.e. “Charles Pooter’s” – Pooter being the main character of George and Weedon Grossmith’s comic novel of 1892 The Diary of a Nobody. No, me neither) followed by FOOL (i.e. “[to] kid”). Another one where I got the clue from the solution.

51. Wee drink ahead of a play (5)

Answer: DRAMA (i.e. “play”). Solution is DRAM (i.e. “wee drink” – no, not that kind of… never mind) followed by A.

52. Notice character in establishment, heading off (11)

Answer: RESIGNATION (i.e. “[handing in one’s] notice”). Solution is SIGN (i.e. “character”) placed “in” CREATION (i.e. “establishment”) once the first letter has been removed (indicated by “heading off”), like so: RE(SIGN)ATION.

53. Girl taking in Italian show (5)

Answer: EVITA (i.e. “show”). Solution is EVA (i.e. “girl”) “taking in” IT (a recognised abbreviation of “Italian”), like so: EV(IT)A.

54. Jazzman liked long tune, syncopated (4,9)

Answer: DUKE ELLINGTON (i.e. “jazzman”). “Syncopated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LIKED LONG TUNE.

55. Greek takes off with illegally obtained ammunition (9)

Answer: GRAPESHOT (i.e. “ammunition”). Solution is GR (a recognised abbreviation of “Greek”) followed by APES (i.e. imitates or “takes off”) and HOT (i.e. “illegally obtained”).

Down clues

1. Rifle one always to remember? Good French one (8,3)

Answer: ELEPHANT GUN (i.e. “rifle”). Solution is ELEPHANT (i.e. “one always to remember”, as in the old phrase “an elephant never forgets”) followed by G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and UN (i.e. “French [for] one”).

2. English farm animals causing witty comment (7)

Solution: EPIGRAM (i.e. “witty comment”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by PIG and RAM (i.e. “farm animals”).

3. Delete article in Irish Gaelic (5)

Answer: ERASE (i.e. “delete”). Solution is ERSE (i.e. “Irish Gaelic”) with A (i.e. “article”) placed “inside”, like so: ER(A)SE.

4. Playmates stupidly hiding fine lighter of mine? (6,4)

Answer: SAFETY LAMP (i.e. “lighter of mine”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “stupidly”) of PLAYMATES placed around or “hiding” F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”), like so: SA(F)ETYLAMP.

5. Skinflint’s self-esteem evil goblins lifted (7)

Answer: SCROOGE (i.e. “skinflint”). Solution is EGO (i.e. “self-esteem”) and ORCS (i.e. “evil goblins”) all reversed (indicated by “lifted”, this being a down clue), like so: SCRO-OGE.

6. Breakaway movement Preston girl re-formed at university (8,5)

Answer: SPLINTER GROUP (i.e. “breakaway movement”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “re-formed”) of PRESTON GIRL followed by UP (which, among its many meanings, is “in residence at school or college”, i.e. “at university”).

7. Check, having lost top copy (9)

Answer: IMITATION (i.e. “copy”). Solution is LIMITATION (i.e. “check”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “lost top”).

8. Tackle aboard in fine revolutionary raft (3-4)

Answer: KON-TIKI (i.e. “raft” – The Kon-Tiki expedition was a 1947 journey by raft across the Pacific Ocean). This took some getting, but the solution is KIT (i.e. “tackle”) placed “aboard” or inside of IN and then followed by OK (i.e. “fine”, as in okay). The whole is reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”), like so: KO-N(TIK)I.

9. Proof, after novel, a collection of religious books (3,9)

Answer: NEW TESTAMENT (i.e. “a collection of religious books”). Solution is TESTAMENT (i.e. “proof”) placed “after” NEW (i.e. “novel”).

10. Male bishop on Rhode Island, churchman from the Western Isles (9)

Answer: HEBRIDEAN (i.e. “from the Western Isles”). Solution is HE (i.e. “male”) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop”) then RI (ditto “Rhode Island”) and DEAN (i.e. “churchman”).

11. Insect found round north in May, perhaps (5)

Answer: MONTH (i.e. “May, perhaps”). Solution is MOTH (i.e. “insect”) placed “round” N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”), like so: MO(N)TH.

12. Faulty cistern – mend showing perspicacity (11)

Answer: DISCERNMENT (i.e. “perspicacity”). “Faulty” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CISTERN MEND.

19. Order abroad to get discount (4,3)

Answer: RULE OUT (i.e. “[to] discount”). Solution is RULE (i.e. “order”) followed by OUT (i.e. “abroad”).

22. “Posted”, one working inside said (9)

Answer: STATIONED (i.e. “posted”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) followed by ON (i.e. “working”) both placed “inside” STATED (i.e. “said”), like so: STAT(I-ON)ED.

24. No wine to be taken into flat in sacred building (5,4)

Answer: NOTRE DAME (i.e. “sacred building”). Solution is NO then RED (i.e. “wine”) which is “taken into” TAME (i.e. “flat”) like so: NO-T(RED)AME.

25. Number on old piano penned by that woman, a definite loser (2-5)

Answer: NO-HOPER (i.e. “a definite loser”). Solution is NO (a recognised abbreviation of “number”) followed by O (ditto “old”) and P (ditto “piano”) once they have been “penned by” HER (i.e. “that woman”), like so: NO-H(O-P)ER.

26. Socialist supporter quit first? (7)

Answer: LEFTIST (i.e. “socialist supporter”). Solution is LEFT (i.e. “quit”) and IST (i.e. “first” – I representing 1).

30. I overlook South African city chart placed on stack (5,8)

Answer: TABLE MOUNTAIN (i.e. “I overlook South African city” – in this case Cape Town). Solution is TABLE (i.e. “chart”) “placed on” top of MOUNTAIN (i.e. “stack”), this being a down clue.

32. “An Indian city attracting millions” – sort of clue (7)

Answer: ANAGRAM (i.e. “sort of [cryptic crossword] clue”). Solution is AN followed by AGRA (i.e. “Indian city”) and M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”).

33. Warmth, ideal I suspect for a butterfly (5,7)

Answer: WHITE ADMIRAL. “Suspect” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WARMTH IDEAL I. Not being terribly up on my lepidopterology, I was quite pleased to quickly see ADMIRAL in the letters of the clue. The rest easily followed from there.

34. Style of writing supported by editor in need of more staff (5-6)

Answer: SHORT-HANDED (i.e. “in need of more staff”). Solution is SHORTHAND (i.e. “style of writing”) followed by ED (a recognised abbreviation of “editor”).

37. Boxing belt – another lost (3,5,3)

Answer: THE NOBLE ART (i.e. “boxing”). “Lost” indicates anagram. Solution is a rather fitting anagram of BELT ANOTHER.

38. Drug two Italian girls? (10)

Answer: BELLADONNA. Solution satisfies “drug”, belladonna is also known as deadly nightshade, a toxin with hallucinogenic effects, and “two Italian girls”, as in BELLA and DONNA.

40. Length of most of car, and weight (tail end, then rest) (9)

Answer: WHEELBASE (i.e. “length of most of car”, as in the distance between the front and rear axles of a motor vehicle). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “weight”) followed by HEEL (i.e. “tail end”) and BASE (i.e. “[to] rest” – a bit weak, but that’s my take on it). Not a classic.

41. What may shine in darkness covering one shimmering lake? (4,5)

Answer: NEON LIGHT (i.e. “what may shine”). Solution is NIGHT (i.e. “darkness”) wrapped around or “covering” an anagram (indicated by “shimmering”) of ONE and L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: N(EON-L)IGHT.

43. Skilled worker is wearing plaid, though hatless (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “skilled worker”). Solution is IS placed in or “wearing” TARTAN (i.e. “plaid”) once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “hatless”), like so: ART(IS)AN.

44. Maybe brother is upset over ostentatious jewellery (7)

Answer: SIBLING (i.e. “maybe brother”). Solution is IS reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and followed by BLING (i.e. “ostentatious jewellery”), like so: SI-BLING.

46. Get rid of blood group O? I succeeded in large hospital (7)

Answer: ABOLISH (i.e. “get rid of”). Solution is AB (i.e. “blood group”) and O followed by I and S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) placed between or “in” L (ditto “large”) and H (ditto “hospital”), like so: AB-O-L-(I-S)-H. Convoluted? Yes, but I rather liked it.

48. Gift in bag a private secretary overlooked (5)

Answer: KNACK (i.e. “gift”, as in having a knack for some activity). Solution is KNAPSACK (i.e. “bag”) once the middle A P and S letters have been removed (indicated by “a private secretary overlooked” – PS being a recognised abbreviation of “private secretary”).

50. Part of play watched in the auditorium (5)

Answer: SCENE (i.e. “part of play”). “In the auditorium” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SEEN (i.e. “watched”).

Review: Best New Horror 6

Seems a bit harsh having “R. Campbell” on the tombstone!

(If you would like a run through the stories found in the first five books of the series, jump over to my Reviews page.)

This sixth entry sees a slimmer volume for the Best New Horror series, and showcases twenty-one stories and a poem, all published during 1994. To be honest the book could have been even slimmer. Like the previous volume, Best New Horror 6 is an uneven read with a number of underwhelming stories littering the first half of the book. Get through that lot and you’ll find the latter half significantly better, evidenced by a glut of award-winners and nominees. Taken as a whole, this makes for a fairly solid 4/5.

This was the first book in the series that was solely edited by Stephen Jones following Ramsey Campbell’s departure. Don’t think you’ve seen the last of Campbell, though, as his stories go on to feature in this and all but one of the next 22 books!

So let’s jump in. The stories you’ll find in Best New Horror 6 are as follows:

Also collected in Watt-Evans’s “Hazmat and Other Toxic Stories”

Dead Babies – Lawrence Watt-Evans (3/5 – Allie’s waters have broken and her husband, Bill, is rushing her to hospital. The baby isn’t hanging around, however, and it soon dawns on Bill that they will never reach the hospital in time. He decides a more sensible idea would be to make a short detour to Dr Everett’s house. They are answered by Dr Everett’s sister, Laura, who ushers them into a small parlour-like room. Everett arrives and sends Bill and Laura out into the hallway while he tends to Allie. As Bill paces the hall he cannot help but notice a dreadful smell in the house, seemingly coming from a nearby room, but he doesn’t question it. When he hears Allie’s anguished screams, Bill finds their worst fears have been realised. But that is only the beginning of the nightmare. This short helping of American gothic was okay, but it goes in the direction you’d expect from one scene to the next. That said, there are some nice touches here and there. The story is told from Bill’s point of view and Watt-Evans does a great job of humanising him with an affectionate Deep South twang.)

Also collected in Ellison’s “Slippage”

Sensible City – Harlan Ellison (4/5 – Gropp is a police lieutenant facing a lengthy prison sentence following the brutal deaths of several inmates at the internment facility he ran. He’s as guilty as all Hell too, thanks to his favourite pastime of smacking prisoners’ heads along the bars of their cells until they pass out. Knowing he’s going down, Gropp jumps bail with his right-hand-man-mountain Mickey Rizzo, who also has blood on his hands. They hightail it in a car with Mickey at the wheel. After a while they find themselves on an unfamiliar Interstate route with no idea where they are or where they are headed. A town called Obedience presents itself in the near distance, a town with an ominous green tinge in the sky. This was a fun short; like a weird mix of The Ant Hill Mob (with Gropp as Clyde and Mickey as Dum Dum) and the old Creepy and Eerie comics of the 60s.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

Blade and Bone – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Ogden is on his bike, taking in and reporting upon the sights of the Peak District for the benefit of his laid-up wife, Poppy. A freak downpour on his travels forces Ogden to urgently seek shelter amid a line of boarded-up houses. Assuming the area to be uninhabited, he smashes open the door of a nearby outhouse. As he barges his way in, Ogden has the uncanny feeling of something brushing past him. Could he have accidentally released something from the outhouse? And if so, what? This was another strong showing from Lamsley, whose Two Returns in Best New Horror 5 was a highlight. This story takes a while to get going but oh my does the ending deliver!)

Also collected in Partridge’s “The Man with the Barbed-Wire Fists”

Harvest – Norman Partridge (3/5 – Raphael lives alone in C-Town. His children are dead. His wife is gone. Everyone else in C-Town has either died or fled. The trees are blackened, the river poisoned. The sounds of a weeping woman float through the empty streets. She is La Llarona, the very personification of all that ills C-Town, and she is keen for Raphael to taste her gruesome, fleshy fruit. When Raphael is visited by a succession of people all keen for him to move away from the area, a tragic and significantly more mundane explanation presents itself. But can Raphael accept it? I liked this sad and sombre story up until the ending, which tries to get away without answering anything. I griped first time around that this was weak and it suggested Partridge didn’t know how to finish the story; a feeling that is sadly undiminished following a second reading.)

Sometimes, In The Rain – Charles Grant (4/5 – Len is an old man given to sitting out on the porch in the middle of winter, watching shapes emerge and dissolve in the rain. His younger sister, Gracie, lives with him. Originally this was to help Len around the house, but these days she’s there more to bicker and complain and fuss. In order to escape her, Len goes out drinking with his friend (and Gracie’s ex-husband), the magnificently named Youngman Stevens. But Youngman is a widower with a troubled soul. He is prone to seeing his recently deceased wife Edith in a nearby park. When Len staggers home after another night on the sauce, he catches a glimpse of Edith too. Of Grant’s appearances in Best New Horror, this Stoker-nominated novelette was perhaps his most straightforward story. Nevertheless, it’s wonderfully written, cannily observed and a nice little chiller to boot.)

Ménage à Trois – Richard Christian Matheson (2/5 – A couple get it on. Repeatedly. With a knife. Of course! This short sequence of vignettes was originally published in an anthology of erotic horror called Little Deaths, and clearly the attempt was to evoke a Barkeresque ooh-yeah-baby-cut-me-there-mmm-yeah-peel-my-skin kind of thing, but to be honest it’s about as sexy as finding blood in your stool. I’ve given it one extra star, though, for its unintended comedy value. “Ghastly red licorice” indeed.)

Also collected in Lane’s “The Lost District and Other Stories”

Like Shattered Stone – Joel Lane (4/5 – Peter is a sculptor who suddenly finds he’s creating amazing work while asleep. One morning he wakes up in his studio, naked, tool in hand (stop it), finding he has rendered in granite an extraordinarily vivid forearm of a child reaching up out of the stone. It’s all very nice, but it’s a world away from the smashed-up cars and burnt-out buildings he was intending to sculpt. He wakes up another morning to find a young girl’s head cut from another block of stone. Whatever could any of this mean? Later, one evening, while cutting through a side street to Soho Road, Peter spots a dark sealed-up building. The walls of said building aren’t brick, however. They look somewhat like granite. This was a weirdly playful curiosity from Lane, couched, as ever, in bleak reportage from the Black Country. Echoes of this story can be heard in My Stone Desire, his British Fantasy Award-winning story of 2008.)

Black Sun – Douglas E. Winter (2/5 – In this International Horror Critics Award-winning story we follow an unnamed stranger as he is accompanied by a man called Hagopian through short scenes of post-nuclear holocaust and the slow death of the world. Hagopian has hired the stranger to undertake a horrific mass killing in the neon city, seemingly unaware of his assassin’s true self. Much of this mood piece is open to interpretation, and your enjoyment of it will hinge on how much work you are willing to put into reading it. As I’ve mentioned a few times in these reviews, I have to be in the right frame of mind. I was originally less than enamoured with this story, stating that I’d be happy to live out my days never having to read it again. Well, having read it a second time – as I have with several stories so far in these extended reviews of Best New Horror – I found a story that still exhausted my patience, though it did improve slightly. I’ve upped the score a tad, but I wouldn’t count on a third reading.)

Also collected in Harrison’s “Things That Never Happen”

Isobel Avens Returns To Stepney In The Spring – M. John Harrison (3/5 – In a story that flicks between past and present we follow Mick “China” Rose as he builds up a courier firm servicing a number of medical research companies across Europe. During these halcyon days he falls heavily for the titular Isobel, a waitress who yearns to fly like a bird. Cut to the present day and Isobel seems to have found one such research company that can help her fly, but with distressing, life-changing consequences. I wasn’t keen on this Dr Moreau-esque story the first time around, thanks mostly to the incredibly irritating Avens. Seriously, if she’d exclaimed “China!” one more time I’d have reached into the story and wrung her bloody neck. It’s damn near every other word she says. She even says it to help Harrison break up a few overly long paragraphs. <CynicModeDeactivated> Amazingly, despite everything running against it, Harrison manages to turn this story around in the latter third. For book nerds out there, Harrison later took this story, added Choe Ashton from Anima (his story in Best New Horror 4) and turned it into the British Fantasy Award nominated novel Signs Of Life. I’ll pass, thanks.)

The Dead Orchards – Ian MacLeod (5/5 – Caitlin is a poor girl who finds herself the centre of a rich old man’s attention. He is struck by her astonishing beauty, which is undimmed by her impoverished appearance. He begs her to come visit him, promising her money, a life of pampering and luxury and more besides. Caitlin agrees but is wary. She recalls how her mother disappeared one night long ago when lured to these grounds. She has every right to be wary too, for her host possesses a cruel streak a mile wide and the wealth to feed it. He also has a secret enchanted well tucked away in the bowels of the house. Those who drink of its waters fall into a catatonic state, a quality of which the old man has taken murderous advantage time and again. This was MacLeod’s third appearance in Best New Horror, with each story better than the last. The Dead Orchards is an excellent read; a full-blooded and handsomely written horror story that is chock-full of gothic imagery and which leads to a very satisfying ending. Job done!)

Also collected in Massie’s “Shadow Dreams”

What Happened When Mosby Paulson Had Her Painting Reproduced On The Cover Of The Phone Book – Elizabeth Massie (5/5 – From one excellent story to another. In What Happened… we follow Elliott, a tragic young boy whose wellbeing, confidence and schooling is being routinely destroyed by his dying mother. She is quick to browbeat Elliott, to lay on the emotional blackmail, to do anything to get her own way. Her cold-hearted selfishness has stripped the boy of any sense of ambition, effectively reducing him to her personal dogsbody. One morning Elliott opens the mail and sees a classmate’s painting on the cover of the phone book, which makes him realise how much of his potential he is wasting. He used to get good grades. His artwork was often praised by his teachers. Now look at him. But what can he do to improve his lot? This is a sad story made all the more heartbreaking by the fact Massie drew on her experience as a teacher to write it.)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Ghosts & Grisly Things”

The Alternative – Ramsey Campbell (3/5 – Highton returns home one evening to his wife and two kids. Home is a cramped two-bedroom flat in a grotty, run-down estate. Both Highton and his wife, Valerie, have to sleep in the sitting room to give their teenage daughter and junkie son separate rooms. But something weird happens when Highton goes to sleep. When he wakes, he is a successful accountant with a model family and all the trappings of a comfortable lifestyle. So which life is real and which one is the dream? This was okay, but I couldn’t quite shake the notion that Campbell was trying too hard. The Alternative chimes false as a result. List five things you’d expect to find in a stereotypical well-to-do household or rough council estate during the mid-90s and the chances are most of them will show up in this story.)

Also collected in “Masters of the Weird Tale: Karl Edward Wagner”

In The Middle Of A Snow Dream – Karl Edward Wagner (3/5 – Niane Liddell is an exotic dancer with a drug habit and the mental scars of a hard life. She’s had a few brushes with death, the latter brought about through a Demerol overdose. She is sent to a retreat for recovering addicts, but something about the place feels a little off. It seems her fellow patients have all had near-death experiences too. Coincidence? This was one of Wagner’s final stories before he died at the age of 48, and it left me wondering whether this was truly the finished article. The pacing of the story is uneven to say the least. Wagner spends time building up interesting characters in Niane and her fellow exotic dancer girlfriend Navonna, but the moment they both enter the retreat it seems he cannot wait to throw monsters at them and finish the story. Not great, sadly.)

Also collected in McAuley’s “Invisible Country”

The Temptation Of Dr Stein – Paul J. McAuley (4/5 – In an alternative history where Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions have helped transform Florence into a world power, Henry Gorrall and his sometime unofficial assistant Dr Stein investigate the body of a young girl pulled from the Grand Canal. Her body is sent to the city hospital for examination accompanied by two guards. When the guards are mortally attacked and the girl’s body fails to arrive, Gorrall is furious. It seems the girl has been stolen by bodysnatchers. Events take a chilling turn when the girl is subsequently found in the company of a sideshow charlatan calling himself Dr Pretorious. Remarkably, the girl is alive… after a fashion. I didn’t come to this story with high hopes if I’m honest, despite it bagging a British Fantasy Award. While I don’t mind stories set in alternative universes, it didn’t feel right for a horror story for some reason. I needn’t have worried. McAuley wisely keeps the alternate reality stuff squarely in the background and focuses instead on characters, plot and excellent writing. Definitely worth a read.)

Also collected in Kilworth’s “Moby Jack and Other Tall Tales”

Wayang Kulit – Garry Kilworth (4/5 – A man is enjoying the rustic delights of Bali when he is handed an invitation to attend a wayang kulit – a sacred shadow puppet play. He attends the show and is suitably impressed with the skill and artistry on display. Later, while nobody is around, he examines the assorted puppets in the booth, unaware of his shadow falling against the screen. One of the shadow puppets moves, seemingly settling into place, its shadow meeting his. Our man soon senses a growing pain in his shoulders and comes to realise the shadow play isn’t quite finished. I really liked Kilworth’s Inside The Walled City, which was a highlight of Best New Horror 2, and this story is every bit as good.)

The Scent Of Vinegar – Robert Bloch (4/5 – Greg Kolmer is a young man who is keen to locate Kitty Earnshaw’s place. Hers was a fabled house of ill repute from cinema’s golden era, believed to be lost to the years somewhere up in the Hollywood hills. Greg is convinced he will find his fortune there, a treasure trove of dirt on the leading men of the age. Instead what he finds is a golden girl lying in one of the rooms; a girl with sharp teeth who, bizarrely, is able to detach her head from her shoulders. This Stoker-winning story from the author of Psycho is a fun read with a wonderfully satisfying ending.)

The Homecoming – Nicholas Royle (4/5 – Daniela returns to Romania, her homeland, following Ceausescu’s bloody downfall. Upon arriving there she has a feeling that the nightmare isn’t quite over. Bucharest is a wreck, yes, but other than that the city still seems brimming with informers and secret police. Strange dreams and uncomfortable truths come to light when Daniela attempts to find her brother. This World Fantasy Award-nominated story previously appeared in Jones’ Shadows Over Innsmouth anthology, but thankfully this is one of those rare occasions where an author dips his toes lightly into Lovecraft territory and produces superior work. True, the tired Lovecraftian trope of a perpetually fearful protagonist is given an airing here, but the quality of the story makes up for it.)

Also collected in Landis’s “Impact Parameter and Other Quantum Realities”

The Singular Habits Of Wasps – Geoffrey A. Landis (5/5 – There are a few 5-star stories in this volume but this has the beating of them all. In The Singular Habits of Wasps Landis presents an astonishingly good Sherlock Holmes story, albeit perhaps not one for the purists! Doctor Watson is worried for Holmes. The famous detective has recently returned from investigating the disappearance of a mortally wounded farm hand and is exhibiting behaviour that is odd, even for him. With each nightly disappearance of Holmes it seems a lady of the night ends up slaughtered. Holmes couldn’t be the notorious Jack The Ripper, could he? Remember: when you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.)

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

To Receive Is Better – Michael Marshall Smith (4/5 – Jack is a man on the run, hiding on a subway train, desperate to avoid drawing attention to himself. But the cards are stacked against him, for Jack has never known the outside world. To make matters worse, he is missing an eye, some fingers and a leg. He has spent his whole life being kept in a tunnel, with all the other “spares” like him. Needless to say, Jack is a more than a little pissed at his lot and is going to do something about it. This World Fantasy Award-nominated story was originally published in another of Jones’s many anthologies, The Mammoth Book Of Frankenstein, and it’s typically brilliant of MMS to find an intriguing twist on the Frankenstein story. He would later take this story and turn it into his second novel, Spares, which I might have to seek out.)

Also collected in Hodge’s “Lies & Ugliness”

The Alchemy Of The Throat – Brian Hodge (5/5 – In this sumptuous Stoker-nominated novelette we follow a modern-day castrato soprano, Giovanni Petrelli, in the months following his auction from a shady conservatory. This is a world in which castrati are still produced, albeit in utter secrecy, and the prices fetched by the most talented castrati are eyewatering. (The ones who don’t make the grade “mysteriously” disappear.) Giovanni is purchased by an incredibly wealthy man called Julius, and is soon put to the task of singing for him. During the many years of his training, Giovanni has heard all the horror stories of his trade, of how the androgynous beauty of the castrati often land them in the beds of their patrons. He is understandably wary of Julius, wondering how long it will be before he too falls foul of his patron’s lusty hands. But it seems Julius is content for Giovanni to merely sing for him. Julius’s debauched friends, on the other hand, are another matter – as Giovanni is about to find out in full. This is a superb story, real genre-elevating stuff. There have been a few erotic horror stories in this and previous volumes of Best New Horror, but Hodge shows them all how it’s done. Unmissable, though you might need some smelling salts while reading it.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Famous Monsters”

Out Of The Night, When The Full Moon Is Bright – Kim Newman (5/5 – This World Fantasy Award-nominated novella sees another mash-up from Newman, his third in as many books. Red Reign, in Best New Horror 4, was a brilliant story which took in Dracula and pretty much everyone of note, both real and fictional, from the Victorian era. The Big Fish, from Best New Horror 5, however, was a largely unsuccessful attempt to shoehorn Chandler into Lovecraft’s universe. This time around Newman clearly thought, “The Legend of Zorro, WITH WEREWOLVES!” And do you know what? He’s only gone and pulled it off. In one half of a dual narrative, we follow a young black novelist, Stuart Finn, as he endures a ride-around from hell courtesy of the LAPD. The whole city is a powder keg, its citizens brazenly taking pot-shots at the police, its gangs seemingly massacring rivals with impunity. Finn is here to develop a screenplay based on a successful novel of his, transplanting it from the UK to the US, but will he survive long enough to do so? On the flipside of the story we follow Diego as he embraces his newfound lycanthropy and cuts a murderously righteous path through a cruel, fledgling America, slaughtering any wrongdoers he senses, carving his zig-zag-zig calling card on each and every one of them. How the two narratives tie together, you’ll have to read for yourself, needless to say it’s very well done. It’s not all wine and roses, however. There is a whiff of stale and faintly Verhoevenian near-futurism to overlook here and there, but do so and you’ll find this a satisfying and bloodthirsty romp. Tuck in!)

Lovers – Esther M. Friesner (4/5 – A young woman awaits her sweetheart who has gone to war. She sends him a letter, promising him her heart, but then finds her love for him wanes in favour of another. Come her wedding day, an unexpected guest arrives, a little worse for wear, letter in hand. An unbroken four-page poem didn’t appeal to me, if I’m honest, but then poetry is often what you make it. Once I’d gotten the cadence down I couldn’t help reading this with the voice of Vincent Price in my head, which worked wonders! (Yes, I’m weird.) Lovers evoked a nice chill down the spine and made for a good closer.)

And so we come to the end of another monster review of Best New Horror. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading! I hope there were a few stories here that tickled your fancy. You shouldn’t have too hard a job tracking down a second-hand copy of this book on eBay or AbeBooks should you fancy a read. Failing that, the eBook version is available to purchase across most platforms. The book covers above will each link to their respective Goodreads pages, which may provide you with other avenues to explore.

I’ll be back with a review of book 7 in a wee while. Do join me, won’t you? Till then, TTFN!


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1384

After making something of a Henry Halls of Saturday’s puzzle, it’s nice to quickly cleanse the palate with another Times Jumbo Cryptic! It took me a little while to find an entry point (in this case GRACE-AND-FAVOUR, weirdly) but once I had a few filled in it was reasonably steady progress to the end. Though this was another grid guilty of repeating a recent clue, it was a good puzzle overall.

Anyhoo, some housekeeping as ever. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you’d like a solution then my Just For Fun page could be just the ticket. If you’re a horror reader then my Reviews page might have something that appeals.

And so to my completed grid. You’ll find explanations of my solutions below where I have them. I hope you find them useful. TTFN!


Across clues

1. Engineer endlessly longing to be cloaked in obscurity (9)

Answer: MACHINIST (i.e. “engineer”). Solution is ACHING (i.e. “longing”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) “cloaked in” MIST (i.e. “obscurity”), like so: M(ACHIN)IST.

6. Is drink placed in old hat wasted? (10)

Answer: DISSIPATED (i.e. “wasted”). Solution is IS and SIP (i.e. “drink”) “placed in” DATED (i.e. “old hat”), like so: D(IS-SIP)ATED.

12. Startle artilleryman, heading off before end-of-war celebrations (7)

Answer: UNNERVE (i.e. “startle”). Solution is GUNNER (i.e. “artilleryman”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “heading off”) and followed by VE (i.e. “end-of-war celebrations”, specifically Victory in Europe, or VE day), like so: UNNER-VE.

13. Nice way of describing of a hedonist? (3,6)

Answer: BON VIVANT (i.e. “hedonist”). “Nice”, being a city in France, indicates the solution is a French phrase.

14. I brought in copies done over in shade of brown (5)

Answer: SEPIA (i.e. “shade of brown”). Solution is APES (i.e. “copies”) reversed (indicated by “done over”) and “bringing in” I, like so: SEP(I)A.

16. Secret plans for monasteries under maritime directions? (6,6)

Answer: SEALED ORDERS (i.e. “maritime directions”). Solution riffs on how SEALED is another word for “secret” and how ORDERS is another word for “monasteries”.

17. Non-participant, beginning to watch everyone, beginning to feel less prominent (10)

Answer: WALLFLOWER (i.e. “non-participant”). Solution is W (i.e. “beginning to watch”, i.e. the first letter of “watch”) followed by ALL (i.e. “everyone”) then F (i.e. “beginning to feel”, i.e. the first letter of “feel”) and finally LOWER (i.e. “less prominent”). A clue that scans really well.

19. As adept with pen as with sword? (5,2,3,4)

Answer: QUICK ON THE DRAW. Solution riffs on differing meanings of the word “draw”: how can draw with a pen, and how one draws their sword. You get the idea.

22. Appropriate to involve Times, sure to revise regular items (8)

Answer: FIXTURES (i.e. “regular items”). Solution is FIT (i.e. “appropriate”) “involving” X (i.e. “Times”, as in the multiplication symbol) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “to revise”) of SURE, like so: FI(X)T-URES.

24. Suppose administrator seizing power will want end to unrest (6)

Answer: EXPECT (i.e. “suppose”). Solution is EXEC (i.e. “administrator”, short for executive or executor) “seizing” P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) and then followed by T (i.e. “end to unrest”, i.e. the last letter of “unrest”), like so: EX(P)EC-T.

25. Dairy product down? Something said to produce a smile (4,6)

Answer: BLUE CHEESE (i.e. “dairy product”). Solution is BLUE (i.e. “down”) followed by CHEESE (i.e. “something said [to photographer] to produce a smile”).

26. Much enthusiasm about brother finding wild horse (5)

Answer: ZEBRA (i.e. “wild horse”). Solution is ZEAL (i.e. “enthusiasm”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “much”, as in not quite all) and then placed “about” BR (a recognised abbreviation of “brother”), like so: ZE(BR)A.

29. Perhaps, the Opposition article backed by Frenchman (4)

Answer: THEM (i.e. “perhaps, the Opposition”, as in “them and us”). Solution is THE (i.e. “article”) “backed by” M (i.e. “Frenchman”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “monsieur”). This was the last clue I solved and took a bit of mulling over. Well played.

30. Puritan accepting new money, making an impression (8)

Answer: PRINTING (i.e. “making an impression” – impression in this case being a single printing of a book). Solution is PRIG (i.e. “puritan”) wrapped around or “accepting” N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and TIN (i.e. a slang term for “money”), like so: PRI(N-TIN)G.

32. Function hosting a performance offering little amusement (9)

Answer: SATURNINE (i.e. “offering little amusement”). Solution is SINE (i.e. “function”, as in one of the six trigonometric functions in mathematics) “hosting” A and TURN (i.e. “performance”), like so: S(A-TURN)INE.

34. The same may be represented in dialect (9)

Answer: IDENTICAL (i.e. “the same”). “May be represented” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN DIALECT.

35. Atmospheric phenomenon? Study source of turbulence and fume (8)

Answer: CONTRAIL, short for a condensation trail, sometimes used to draw large penises in the sky (i.e. “atmospheric phenomenon” – I’m taking this to mean “something that can be observed in the sky” rather than anything more exotic). Solution is CON (an archaic word meaning “study” often used by setters) followed by T (i.e. “source of turbulence”, i.e. the first letter of “turbulence”) and then RAIL (i.e. “[to] fume”).

36. Tree? China has millions (4)

Answer: PALM (i.e. “tree”). Solution is PAL (i.e. “China”, as in the Cockney rhyming slang “china plate – mate” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”).

39. Sign of error in new rate for special edition of paper (5)

Answer: EXTRA (i.e. “special edition of paper”, as in “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”). Solution is X (i.e. “sign of error”, as in crossing something out) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “new”) of RATE, like so: E(X)TRA.

40. Article in verse including record in sorry state (10)

Answer: APOLOGETIC (i.e. “in sorry state”). Solution is A (i.e. “article”) followed by POETIC (i.e. “in verse”) which is wrapped around or “including” LOG (i.e. “record”), like so: A-PO(LOG)ETIC. While this clue doesn’t scan particularly well, I did rather like the “in sorry state” bit.

42. Remarkable note penned by prisoner is handed over (6)

Answer: SIGNAL (i.e. “remarkable” – I get it, but I can’t think of a decent sentence where you’d use one rather than the other). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”) placed in or “penned by” LAG (i.e. “prisoner”) and IS which have been reversed (indicated by “handed over”), like so: SI-G(N)AL.

44. Sporting contest: plan to finish early or late in the day (8)

Answer: EVENTIDE (i.e. “late in the day”). Solution is EVENT (i.e. “sporting contest”) followed by IDEA (i.e. “plan”) which has its final letter removed (indicated by “to finish early”), like so: EVENT-IDE. I rather liked this one.

46. Action subsequently engaging lawyers to succeed in arbitration? (6,1,7)

Answer: STRIKE A BARGAIN (i.e. “arbitration”). Solution is STRIKE (i.e. “action”) followed by A BAR GAIN (i.e. “lawyers to succeed” – the legal profession is sometimes referred to as the Bar). Sound familiar? That’s because this solution also appeared in last week’s puzzle. Not only that, but it also appeared in virtually the same position on the grid! Come on, ed!

48. Very annoyed: silver reduced into small pieces retaining only 40% of value (10)

Answer: AGGRAVATED (i.e. “very annoyed”, albeit informally lest we aggravate the pedants). Solution is AG (chemical symbol of “silver”) followed by GRATED (i.e. “reduced into small pieces”) which is wrapped around or “retaining” VA (i.e. “40% of value”, specifically the first two letters), like so: AG-GRA(VA)TED.

49. Erotica? Men with it possibly showing some speed in response (8,4)

Answer: REACTION TIME (i.e. “showing some speed in response”). “Possibly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EROTICA MEN and IT.

53. Blame hard to be accepted by group of thinkers? (5)

Answer: THANK (i.e. “[to] blame”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used to grade pencils) placed in or being “accepted by” TANK (i.e. “group of thinkers”, as in a think tank), like so: T(H)ANK.

54. Public official: origins linked to male in Arab state (9)

Answer: OMBUDSMAN (i.e. “public official”). Solution is BUDS (i.e. “origins”) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) placed “in” OMAN (i.e. “Arab state”), like so: OM(BUDS-M)AN.

55. I name support from near the coast (7)

Answer: INSHORE (i.e. “near the coast”). Solution is I then N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”) followed by SHORE [up…] (i.e. “support”).

56. I agree: positive response seen in territory in the past (10)

Answer: YESTERYEAR (i.e. “in the past”). Solution is YES (i.e. “I agree”) followed by YEA (i.e. “positive response”) once it has been placed “in” TERR (a recognised abbreviation of “Territory”), like so: YES-TER(YEA)R.

57. Prepared with a line about study describing many office jobs? (9)

Answer: SEDENTARY (i.e. “describing many office jobs”, meaning lots of sitting down). Solution is SET (i.e. “prepared”) followed by A and RY (i.e. “line”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), all wrapped “about” DEN (i.e. “study [room]”), like so: SE(DEN)T-A-RY.

Down clues

1. Fellow, one with a passion (5)

Answer: MANIA (i.e. “passion”). Solution is MAN (i.e. “fellow”) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and A.

2. Take control of stimulus – something footballer takes (6,4)

Answer: CORNER KICK (i.e. “something footballer takes”). Solution is CORNER (i.e. “take control of”) and KICK (i.e. “stimulus”).

3. Reserve to move briskly, feeling the cold (3-5)

Answer: ICE-BOUND (i.e. “feeling the cold” – a bit weak this, in my less-than-humble opinion. Ask the crews of HMSs Erebus and Terror and they might have given you a different perspective). Solution is ICE (i.e. “reserve”, as in having an icy nature) followed by BOUND (i.e. “to move briskly”).

4. Plant grew tall, avoiding cold lake (5)

Answer: IMBED (i.e. “[to] plant”). Solution is CLIMBED (i.e. “grew tall”) with the C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”) and L (ditto “lake”) removed (indicated by “avoiding”).

5. Town in Kent has fashionable people cross (9)

Answer: TONBRIDGE (i.e. “town in Kent”). Solution is TON (i.e. “fashionable people” – setters quite often like to use this in their clues. It’s in the dictionary, though I still haven’t seen a sentence using it. Anyway…) followed by BRIDGE (i.e. “[to] cross”).

6. Daughter, not fully mature, weak character (4)

Answer: DRIP (i.e. “weak character”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) followed by RIPE (i.e. “mature”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “not fully”), like so: D-RIP.

7. Pretending to have support of a new religious figure (6)

Answer: SHAMAN (i.e. “religious figure”). Solution is SHAM (i.e. “pretending”) followed by or “having support of” – this being a down clue – A and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”).

8. “Elitist leaning” may represent us (14)

Answer: INTELLIGENTSIA. “May represent us” indicates anagram. Solution is a rather fitting anagram of ELITIST LEANING. Within the context of the solution, the intelligentsia may well represent this. Very good, this. Best clue we’ve had for a couple of months.

9. More than one sailor loves to carry an instrument in the coldest temperature (8,4)

Answer: ABSOLUTE ZERO (i.e. “the coldest temperature”). Solution is ABS (i.e. “more than one sailor”, specifically Able Seaman made plural) followed by O and ZERO (i.e. “loves”, both plays on how “love” is zero in tennis) “carrying” LUTE (i.e. “[musical] instrument”), like so: ABS-O-(LUTE)-ZERO.

10. Enable soldiers to turn up, bearing military captive (7)

Answer: EMPOWER (i.e. “enable”). Solution is REME (i.e. “soldiers”, specifically the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) reversed (indicated by “to turn up”, this being a down clue) and wrapped around or “bearing” POW (i.e. “military captive”, specifically a Prisoner Of War), like so: EM(POW)ER.

11. Later question beginning to engage some number in smaller group (10)

Answer: SUBSEQUENT (i.e. “later”). Solution is QU (a recognised abbreviation of “question”) followed by E (i.e. “beginning to engage”, i.e. the first letter of “engage”) and N (i.e. “some [variable] number”) all placed “in” SUBSET (i.e. “smaller group”), like so: SUBSE(QU-E-N)T.

15. Love coming in fast – the stuff of jets and rockets (9)

Answer: AEROSPACE (i.e. “the stuff of jets and rockets”). Solution is EROS (the god of “love”) “coming into” APACE (i.e. “fast”), like so: A(EROS)PACE.

18. Source of disease: head about to keep note (8)

Answer: PATHOGEN (i.e. “source of disease”). This took a while to get, but the solution is PATE (i.e. “head”) placed “about” HOG (i.e. “to keep”) and followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”), like so: PAT(HOG)E-N.

20. Instrument in Apollo lander: I’m restrained about that (9)

Answer: IMPLEMENT (i.e. “instrument”). Solution is I’M PENT (i.e. “I’m restrained”) placed “about” LEM (i.e. “Apollo Lander”, specifically a Lunar Excursion Module), like so: IM-P(LEM)ENT. Yes, I looked up “LEM”.

21. Hold hard – young chap has fallen badly in between (4,6)

Answer: HALF NELSON (i.e. “[wrestling] hold”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” covered earlier) and SON (i.e. “young chap” – a bit of a stretch, this) with an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of FALLEN placed “in between”, like so: H-(ALFNEL)-SON.

23. China’s problem with crime (3,7)

Answer: TEA SERVICE (i.e. “china” – again, ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is TEASER (i.e. “problem”) followed by VICE (i.e. “crime”).

27. National symbol? Scots own up after it’s found in refuse (9)

Answer: BRITANNIA (i.e. “national symbol”). Another that took some getting, but the solution is AIN (i.e. “Scots own”, i.e. Scottish form of the word “own”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and placed “after” IT once it has been put “in” BRAN (the coarser part or “refuse” of anything), like so: BR(IT)AN-NIA.

28. Opener to meal with taste, left out as expression of sovereign’s thanks (5-3-6)

Answer: GRACE-AND-FAVOUR, which is “of a residence belonging to the British sovereign and granted rent-free to a person of importance” (i.e. “sovereign’s thanks”). So there you go. Solution is GRACE (i.e. “opener to meal”) then AND (i.e. the “with” bit) and FLAVOUR (i.e. “taste”) with the L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) removed (indicated by “left out”).

31. Isle of Grain not entirely undeveloped (8)

Answer: INCHOATE (i.e. “underdeveloped”). Solution is INCH (a Scottish or Gaelic word for “island” often used by setters) followed by OATEN (i.e. “of grain”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “not entirely”), like so: INCH-OATE.

33. Sailor following Channel, and French providing restriction (12)

Answer: STRAITJACKET (i.e. “restriction”). Solution is JACK (one of several words meaning “sailor”) placed after or “following” STRAIT (i.e. “channel”) and itself followed by ET (i.e. “and French”, i.e. the French for “and”), like so: STRAIT-JACK-ET.

34. One cricket side taking article into practice area? That’s awkward (9)

Answer: INELEGANT (i.e. “awkward”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) then LEG (i.e. “cricket side”) and AN (i.e. “article”) “taken into” NET (i.e. “practice area” used in cricket and other ball games), like so: I-NE(LEG-AN)T.

37. Paper upset about delay identifying shirker (10)

Answer: MALINGERER (i.e. “shirker”). Solution is REAM (i.e. “paper”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and placed “about” LINGER (i.e. “delay”), like so: MA(LINGER)ER.

38. End up accepting witches I found in Pacific islands (10)

Answer: MICRONESIA (i.e. “Pacific islands”). Solution is AIM (i.e. “end”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and placed around or “accepting” CRONES (i.e. “witches”) and I, like so: MI(CRONES-I)A.

41. Outermost layer is primed to disintegrate after input of energy (9)

Answer: EPIDERMIS (i.e. “outermost layer”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to disintegrate”) of IS PRIMED “after input of” E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), like so: EPID(E)RMIS.

43. Help is turning up after former schoolmate gets stuck on Northern rock (8)

Answer: OBSIDIAN (i.e. “rock”). Solution is AID (i.e. “help”) and IS reversed (indicated by “turning up”, this being a down clue) and placed after OB (i.e. “former schoolmate”, specifically an Old Boy). The whole is then followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”), like so: OB-(SI-DIA)-N.

45. Go wild after English impress deeply (7)

Answer: ENGRAVE (i.e. “impress deeply”). Solution is RAVE (i.e. “go wild”) placed “after” ENG (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: ENG-RAVE.

47. Weak grouse sent skyward ends in trivial chase (6)

Answer: FEEBLE (i.e. “weak”). Solution is BEEF (i.e. “grouse”, as in a complaint) reversed (indicated by “sent skywards”, this being a down clue) and followed by LE (i.e. “ends in trivial chase”, i.e. the last letters of “trivial” and “chase”), like so: FEEB-L-E.

50. Punished, or preserved half-heartedly (5)

Answer: CANED (i.e. “published”). Solution is CANNED (i.e. “preserved”) with one of its middle Ns removed (indicated by “half-heartedly”).

51. Club comedy, ultimately satire (5)

Answer: IRONY (i.e. “satire”). Solution is IRON (i.e. “[golf] club”) followed by Y (i.e. “comedy, ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “comedy”).

52. IT expert losing top in German river (4)

Answer: ODER (i.e. “German river”). Solution is CODER (i.e. “IT expert”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “losing top”). One I had to look up, if I’m honest.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1383

This week’s puzzle was a real Jekyll and Hyde one for me. I rattled through the first half while waiting for a haircut on Saturday morning only to find a noticeably tougher beast when I returned to it a few hours later. Weird. I got there in the end, though. As ever, you’ll find my completed grid below with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

A bit of housekeeping before we launch into proceedings. If you’d like to see completed solutions of previous Times Jumbo Cryptic crosswords, then my Just For Fun page might prove useful. If you’re a fan of horror fiction then my Reviews page might have a book or two of interest. My current folly is to review the 29 volumes (and counting) of Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series. I hope to have a review of Best New Horror 6 up this week, you lucky things.

Finally, it’s been brought to my attention that the amount of advertising on my site is a getting a bit silly. This is WordPress’s doing, not mine. I guess with the increased traffic coming to my site, WordPress’s algorithms have decided it’s fair game to pump out more adverts. This stinks, obviously, so I’ll pony up some money and get these ads removed. You can send my knighthood in the post, thanks.

Right, let’s get on with it shall we? All being well, I’ll see you shortly with tomorrow’s solution.


A big hat-tip to zouzoulap in the comments for the correction!

Across clues

1. Font by Norma, perhaps (5,3,5)

Answer: TIMES NEW ROMAN (i.e. “font”). Solution is TIMES (i.e. “[multiplied] by”) followed by NEW ROMAN (i.e. “Norma, perhaps” – “new” is sometimes used by setters to indicate an anagram, so NEW ROMAN cryptically indicates Roman is an anagram of “Norma”. You get the idea.)

8. Dine without fish and put up with endless sweet (9)

Answer: SUGARPLUM (i.e. “sweet”). Solution is SUP (i.e. “dine”, specifically an archaic word meaning to take one’s evening meal, or supper) placed outside or “without” GAR (i.e. “fish”, specifically a garfish) and then followed by LUMP (i.e. “put up with”, as in “to like it or lump it”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “endless”), like so: SU(GAR)P-LUM.

13. Green politician in Montreal opposition (5)

Answer: REALO (i.e. “Green politician”, specifically one in the less radical side of the German Green Party, it says here). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: MONT(REAL O)PPOSITION. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

14. Bring round one affected by ecstasy right in disco? (11)

Answer: DISENTRANCE (i.e. “bring round”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) then SENT [into…] (i.e. “affected by ecstasy”) then R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) all wrapped up “in” DANCE (i.e. “disco”), like so: D(I-SENT-R)ANCE.

15. Genius way of doing things in study (5)

Answer: DEMON (i.e. “genius”, as in being very good, or a demon, in some endeavour). Solution is MO (i.e. “way of doing thing”, specifically Modus Operandi) placed “in” DEN (i.e. “study [room]”), like so: DE(MO)N.

16. Involving VIPs drunk, even (4-5)

Answer: HIGH-LEVEL (i.e. “involving VIPs” – if something is high-level then it’s intended for the movers and shakers of an organisation). Solution is HIGH (i.e. “drunk”) followed by LEVEL (i.e. “even”).

17. Stravinsky, perhaps very removed from American vitality (4)

Answer: IGOR (i.e. “Stravinsky, perhaps” – as in the fella’s first name). Solution is VIGOR (i.e. “American vitality”, i.e. how the US spells “vigour”) with the V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”) “removed” from the beginning.

18. Extremely fresh where the IOW ferry operates (8)

Answer: INSOLENT. Solution satisfies “extremely fresh”, as in giving someone some lip, and “where the IOW ferry operates” – IOW being Isle of Wight, and its ferry would therefore operate IN [the] SOLENT. I rather liked this clue.

20. People regularly touchy about reward for winners (6)

Answer: OCCUPY (i.e. “[to] people”). Solution is OCY (i.e. “regularly touchy”, i.e. every other letter of the word TOUCHY) placed “about” CUP (i.e. “reward for winners”), like so: OC(CUP)Y.

21. A thing that’s PC upset perceptual morons (8,8)

Answer: PERSONAL COMPUTER (i.e. “a thing that’s PC”). “Upset” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PERCEPTUAL MORONS.

24. Soldier retreats in confusion after start of D-Day (6,3)

Answer: DESERT RAT (i.e. “soldier”, specifically a solider in the 7th Armoured Division of the British Army active during World War II). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “in confusion”) of RETREATS placed “after” D (i.e. “start of D-Day”, as in its first letter), like so: D-ESERTRAT.

26. Evil embraced by doctors’ revolts (7)

Answer: RISINGS (i.e. “revolts”). Solution is SIN (i.e. “evil”) placed in or “embraced by” RIGS (i.e. “doctors”, e.g. to rig an election is to doctor its results), like so: RI(SIN)GS.

27. Judicial decision to abolish court note writer (5)

Answer: Giuseppe VERDI (19th century composer, or “note writer”). Solution is VERDICT (i.e. “judicial decision”) with the CT removed (indicated by “to abolish court” – CT being a recognised abbreviation of “court”).

29. Botticelli, perhaps, using same egg mixture (8,4)

Answer: GUESSING GAME (i.e. “Botticelli, perhaps” – Botticelli is a game where players have to guess the identity of a person through yes/no questions after an initial letter has been given. Not one I’ve played, though I am a fan of yes/no riddles). “Mixture” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of USING SAME EGG.

31. Small shrub in grass, a lentil transformed (10)

Answer: POTENTILLA (i.e. “small shrub” – one I have no shame in looking up as there are thousands of the buggers to choose from). Solution is POT (i.e. “grass”, both nicknames for marijuana) followed by an anagram (indicated by “transformed”) of A LENTIL, like so: POT-ENTILLA.

33. A shift that drops four with a routine job (4-2-4)

Answer: NINE-TO-FIVE (i.e. “a routine job”). Solution riffs on how “shifting” four from nine gives you five, taking you from “nine [down] to five”. You get the idea. Again.

35. What’s used in adding carriage and track for former guard (5-7)

Answer: CARRY-FORWARD (i.e. “what’s used in adding” – ask your grandparents, kids). Solution is CAR (i.e. “carriage”) followed by RY (i.e. “track”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of railway), then FOR and finally WARD (i.e. “guard” – “former” seems a redundant word, unless I’m missing something), like so: CAR-RY-FOR-WARD.

38. End of skewer used in turning rump steak may be wanted thus? (5)

Answer: RARER (i.e. “steak may be wanted thus”). Solution is R (i.e. “end of skewer”, i.e. the last letter of “skewer”) “used in” REAR (i.e. “rump”) which is reversed (indicated by “turning”), like so: RA(R)ER.

39. Pain in mouth, but not quite windpipe (7)

Answer: TRACHEA (i.e. “windpipe”). Solution is ACHE (i.e. “pain”) placed “in” TRAP (i.e. “mouth”) which has its final letter removed (indicated by “but not quite”), like so: TR(ACHE)A.

40. Papers sent out after account mishaps (9)

Answer: ACCIDENTS (i.e. “mishaps”). Solution is ID (i.e. “papers”) and an anagram (indicated by “out”) of SENT, which are both placed “after” ACC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”), like so: ACC-ID-ENTS.

42. Begin again with fresh filling in pie, ale and a starter of fish (4,4,1,3,4)

Answer: TURN OVER A NEW LEAF (i.e. “begin again”). Solution is TURNOVER (i.e. “pie”) and ALE being “filled” by NEW (i.e. “fresh”) and then followed by A and finally F (i.e. “starter of fish”, i.e. the first letter of “fish”), like so: TURNOVER-A(NEW)LE-A-F.

44. Cat’s way of acting with long established right (6)

Answer: MOUSER (i.e. “cat”). Solution is MO (i.e. “way of acting”, i.e. our friend Modus Operandi again) followed by USER (a legal term meaning “long-established right” – not one I’m familiar with but it’s in the dictionary).

47. Stop old boys lorry taking away 1000 tons (8)

Answer: OBSTRUCT (i.e. “stop”). Solution is OBS (a recognised abbreviation of “old boy” made plural) followed by TRUCK (i.e. “lorry”) with the K removed (indicated by “taking away 1000”), then T (a recognised abbreviation of “tons”), like so: OBS-TRUC-T.

49. Chap is wonderful, but no Romeo (4)

Answer: BILL (i.e. “chap”). Solution is BRILL (i.e. “wonderful”) with the R removed (indicated by “but no Romeo”, being R in the phonetic alphabet).

50. Canadian introducing a European dress in imperial style (9)

Answer: CAESARIAN (i.e. “in imperial style”). Solution is CAN (a recognised abbreviation of “Canadian”) including or “introducing” A then E (ditto “European”) then SARI (i.e. “dress”), like so: C(A-E-SARI)AN.

52. Breakfast food in reflux puts out small intestine, partly (5)

Answer: ILEUM (i.e. “(small) intestine, partly”, specifically the lowest part of the small intestine). Solution is MUESLI (i.e. “breakfast food”) reversed (indicated by “in reflux”) and with the S removed (indicated by “puts out small” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “small”). Another really good clue that scans particularly well.

53. Obsolete big towns containing little space and filth (11)

Answer: OBSCENITIES (i.e. “filth”). Solution is OBS (a recognised abbreviation of “obsolete”) and CITIES (i.e. “big towns”) “containing” EN (i.e. “little space” – “em” is a printing term used to describe a space the width of a letter m, so “en” is, understandably, half an em), like so: OBS-C(EN)ITIES.

54. Ray eating river fish (5)

Answer: BREAM (i.e. “fish”). Solution is BEAM (i.e. “ray”, as in a sunbeam) “eating” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: B(R)EAM.

55. Note lake with seabird in tiny American city (9)

Answer: MILWAUKEE (i.e. “American city”). Solution is MI (i.e. “note” in the do-ray-mi style) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”) and WEE (i.e. “tiny”) with AUK (i.e. “seabird”) placed inside like so: MI-L-W(AUK)EE.

56. Teased non-stop about old TV series (7,3,3)

Answer: STEPTOE AND SON (i.e. “old TV series”). “About” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEASED NON-STOP.

Down clues

1. Doctor Who developing material for brand? (9)

Answer: TORCHWOOD (i.e. “material for brand” – a “brand” in this case being a flaming torch). “Developing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DOCTOR WHO. Looks like we’re seeing repeats creeping back in, as this solution only appeared a few weeks ago.

2. Maidens put up soldier cold with muscle pain (7)

Answer: MYALGIC (i.e. “with muscle pain”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “maidens” used in cricket) followed by LAY (i.e. “put”) which is reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by GI (i.e. “[US] soldier”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”), like so: M-YAL-GI-C.

3. Soap externally lubricates openings for awkward stoppers? (11)

Answer: SPOILSPORTS (i.e. “awkward stoppers”). Solution is SP (i.e. “soap externally”, i.e. the first and last letters of “soap”) followed by OILS (i.e. “lubricates”) and PORTS (i.e. “openings”).

4. Salad plant initially even needs a plunge into water (6)

Answer: ENDIVE (i.e. “salad plant”, a member of the chicory family – another one I had to look up). Solution is EN (i.e. “initially even needs”, i.e. the first letters of “even” and “needs”) followed by DIVE (i.e. “plunge into water”).

5. Able to recover and take again without legal right to possession (9)

Answer: RESILIENT (i.e. “able to recover”). This took some getting but the solution is RESIT (i.e. “take [exam] again”) surrounding or placed “without” LIEN (i.e. “legal right to possession”), like so: RESI(LIEN)T.

6. Millions against second title for respected Indian parliamentarian, an aggressive creature (6,6)

Answer: MANTIS SHRIMP (i.e. “aggressive creature” – done a Google Images search: it looks like something that’s escaped from The Yellow Submarine. Groovy!) Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”) followed by ANTI (i.e. “against”) then S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) then SHRI (i.e. “title for respected Indian” – also spelled “Sri”) and finally MP (i.e. “parliamentarian”). Aggressive, eh? I reckon I could take one.

7. Managed rising disagreement over head’s parochialism (10)

Answer: NARROWNESS (i.e. “parochialism”). Solution is RAN (i.e. “managed”) reversed (indicated by “rising”, this being a down clue) then followed by ROW (i.e. “disagreement”) and NESS (i.e. “head”, as in a headland), like so: NAR-ROW-NESS.

8. A number dressed in blue and yellowish-brown (4)

Answer: SAND (i.e. “yellowish-brown”). Solution is N (i.e. “a [variable] number”) placed or “dressed in” SAD (i.e. “blue”), like so: SA(N)D.

9. Fresh home produce which might one day do for all of us (10,6)

Answer: GREENHOUSE EFFECT (i.e. “what might one day do for all of us” Cheery!). Solution is GREEN (i.e. “fresh”) followed by HOUSE (i.e. “home”) and [to] EFFECT (i.e. “produce”).

10. A day in port to send a message (5)

Answer: RADIO (i.e. “to send a message”). Solution is A then D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”) placed “in” RIO (i.e. “port”, specifically Rio De Janeiro), like so: R(A-D)IO.

11. One delivering sheep on time for unit (7)

Answer: LAMBERT, a “unit” of brightness. Solution is LAMBER (i.e. “one delivering sheep”) placed “on” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

12. Beast left chamois under screen (7,6)

Answer: MONSTER LIZARD. I’m not following this one, if I’m brutally honest. The solution could be MONSTER (i.e. “beast”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and IZARD (a Pyrenean “chamois” – no, me neither), but I’ve no idea why this makes the solution “under screen”. Alternatively, the clue could be read as L-IZARD being placed “under” MONSTER (this being a down clue) to produce a “beast”, but here I fail to see how monster would be “screen”. Maybe the setter is pumped up for the new Godzilla movie, I don’t know. It’s a shitty clue either way, so I’m moving on.
[EDIT: Scratch that. Solution is MONITOR LIZARD. As zouzoulap clarifies in the comments, MONITOR = “screen”. Much obliged, zouzoulap! – LP]

19. Ringing caught long-tailed monkey without ring (8)

Answer: CLANGOUR (i.e. “ringing”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in ball games) followed by LANGUR (i.e. “long tailed monkey” – done a Google Images search: Yep. Monkey.) placed around or “without” O (i.e. “ring”), like so: C-LANG(O)UR.

22. Turn to somebody coming over (5)

Answer: PIVOT (i.e. “turn”). Solution is TO then VIP (i.e. “somebody”, as in “to be a somebody”) which are then reversed (indicated by “coming over”), like so: PIV-OT.

23. Mechanism showing relative time? (11,5)

Answer: GRANDFATHER CLOCK (i.e. “mechanism showing… time”). Solution riffs on a double meaning of “relative”, here being a grandfather.

25. Less easy going back with Queen (7)

Answer: STERNER (i.e. “less easy”). Solution is STERN (the “back” of a ship) followed by ER (i.e. “Queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina).

28. See what one’s forgotten about relative merit (7)

Answer: RELEARN (i.e. “see what one’s forgotten about”). Solution is REL (a recognised abbreviation of “relative”) followed by EARN (i.e. “merit”).

29. Main set ignore dreadful feeling baby boomers are best? (13)

Answer: GENERATIONISM (i.e. “feeling baby boomers are best”). “Dreadful” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MAIN SET IGNORE.

30. Let others go without a freebie (8)

Answer: GIVEAWAY (i.e. “freebie”). Solution is GIVE WAY (i.e. “let others go”) placed around or “without” A, like so: GIVE(A)WAY.

32. Sea wall peril – mad how courses of bricks are laid (12)

Answer: PARALLELWISE (i.e. “how courses of bricks are laid”). “Mad” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SEA WALL PERIL.

34. Bone decay turned up in a part of the body (5)

Answer: TORSO (i.e. “part of the body”). Solution is OS (Latin for “bone” – think of ossuaries such as the Catacombs of Paris) and ROT (i.e. “decay”) both reversed (indicated by “turned up”, this being a down clue) like so: TOR-SO.

36. How one may get a date with Charlie, perhaps, corrupt baron (11)

Answer: RADIOCARBON (i.e. “how one may get a date”, as in carbon-dating something to determine its age). Solution is RADIO C (i.e. “Charlie, perhaps”, i.e. C in the phonetic alphabet) followed by an anagram (indicated by “corrupt”) of BARON, like so: RADIO-C-ARBON.

37. Audacity of revolutionary English movement out of India (10)

Answer: CHEEKINESS (i.e. “audacity”). Solution is CHE Guevara (i.e. “revolutionary”) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and KINESIS (i.e. “movement”) once the final I as been removed (indicated by “out of India”, “India” being I in the phonetic alphabet), like so: CHE-E-KINESS. Not a classic.

40. Revolutionary, a leading one on street (9)

Answer: ANARCHIST (i.e. “revolutionary”). Solution is AN ARCH (i.e. “a leading”) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”).

41. Powerful politician setting FBI agent after good man Reagan? (9)

Answer: STRONGMAN (i.e. “powerful politician”). Solution is G-MAN (i.e. “FBI agent”) being “set…after” ST (i.e. “good man”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “saint”) and RON (i.e. “Reagan”, specifically former US President Ronald Reagan), like so: ST-RON-GMAN.

43. Philosopher’s trick involving singular lines (7)

Answer: Bertrand RUSSELL (i.e. “philosopher”). Solution is RUSE (i.e. “trick”) including or “involving” S (a recognised abbreviation of “singular”) and followed LL (i.e. “lines”, L being a recognised abbreviation of “line”). A philosopher I’m faintly familiar with – a rarity for me!

45. Spy hero’s ways of conveying emotion (7)

Answer: SMILEYS (i.e. “ways of conveying emotion”). Solution refers to George Smiley, “spy hero” of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. A solution that’s rather wearing flares and a kipper tie in internet terms.

46. Not so much on empty estate for renter (6)

Answer: LESSEE (i.e. “renter”). Solution is LESS (i.e. “not so much”) followed by EE (i.e. “empty estate”, i.e. the word “estate” will all its middle letters removed).

48. Odd soul music one can dance to (5)

Answer: RUMBA (i.e. “music one can dance to”). Solution is RUM (i.e. “odd”) followed by BA (i.e. “soul” – in ancient Egyptian religion the ba is the soul, represented as a bird with a human head. Trippy.)

51. Land surrounded by water regularly dissolves (4)

Answer: ISLE (i.e. “land surrounded by water”). “Regularly” indicates the solution is derived from taking every other letter from DISSOLVES.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1382

I guess we were due a proper stinker and, hoooo boy, we got one! There were exotic solutions aplenty in this week’s grid, but at least they were actual words. I’d much rather be camped out in my Chambers during these harder puzzles than a Who’s Who of dead people or the darker recesses of Britain’s botanical gardens. If anything my issue with this week’s puzzle was the poor quality of some of the clues. The setter’s overreliance on using people’s names in particular grew rather tiresome. Anyway, what’s done is done. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

As usual some housekeeping before we begin. If you have an recent Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you are missing some answers, then my Just For Fun page might be of interest. If you have a hankering for horror fiction then my Reviews page might point you in the direction of a few books. I’m currently putting together a review of Best New Horror 6, which I hope to put up after Bank Holiday Monday’s solution, assuming I have one obvs.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. TTFN!


Across clues

1. Doctor caught pinching journalist’s wine (5)

Answer: MEDOC (i.e. “wine”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games) “pinching” ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “editor”), like so: M(ED)O-C. A really good, tricksy clue this.

4. A woman’s spells on a drug rejected in these parts (10)

Answer: HEREABOUTS (i.e. “in these parts”). Solution is HER BOUTS (i.e. “a woman’s spells”) which is placed around A and E (i.e. “drug”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “ecstasy”) which have been swapped around (indicated by “rejected”), like so: HER-(E-A)-BOUTS.

9. Tactless remark primarily riling the chief electrician (6)

Answer: GAFFER (i.e. “the chief electrician”). Solution is GAFFE (i.e. “tactless remark”) followed by R (i.e. “primarily riling”, i.e. the first letter of “riling”).

14. Strait-laced Carthaginian woman making entry (9)

Answer: PURITANIC (i.e. “strait-laced”). Solution is PUNIC (i.e. “Carthaginian” – an early taste of the kind of puzzle we’re dealing with this week) with RITA (i.e. “woman”) “making entry” like so: PU(RITA)NIC.

15. Questioning politician on eg train or at sea (13)

Answer: INTERROGATORY (i.e. “questioning”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “at sea”) of EG TRAIN OR, followed by TORY (i.e. “politician”). Not a classic.

16. What Parisian left among directions for follow-ups (7)

Answer: SEQUELS (i.e. “follow-ups”). Solution is QUE (i.e. “what Parisian” – the French for “what” is “que”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed “among” SES (i.e. “directions” – I’m taking this to be the compass points “south”, “east” and then “south” again). Again, not a classic.

17. Friend eager to carry a new covered litter (9)

Answer: PALANKEEN (i.e. “covered litter”). Solution is PAL (i.e. “friend”) and KEEN (i.e. “eager”) “carrying” A and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: PAL-(A-N)-KEEN. One I got more or less through the wordplay. While I knew the word palanquin, I had no idea there was an alternative spelling.

18. Horrify a reindeer herder going west (5)

Answer: APPAL (i.e. “horrify”). Solution is A then LAPP, a native of Lapland (i.e. “reindeer herder”) which is reversed (indicated by “going west”, this being an across clue), like so: A-PPAL.

19. How it dries rice out? That’s novel (5,4,5)

Answer: CIDER WITH ROSIE, a “novel” by Laurie Lee. “Out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HOW IT DRIES RICE.

22. Pole with old hat in distant settlement (7)

Answer: OUTPOST (i.e. “distant settlement”). Solution is POST (i.e. “pole”) with OUT (i.e. “old”) placed on top like a “hat”, like so: OUT-POST. Probably would have worked better as a down clue.

25. Son finally abandons water-starved sheep in fairish number (10)

Answer: THIRTYFOLD (i.e. “fairish number”). Solution is THIRSTY FOLD (i.e. “water-starved sheep”) with the S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) removed. I’m not quite sure where “finally” factors into it, mind, so I might be wrong.

27. Crossing ocean it finally moved quickly, having particular sound (12)

Answer: TRANSPACIFIC (i.e. “crossing ocean”). Solution is T (i.e. “it finally”, i.e. the last letter of “it”) followed by RAN (i.e. “moved quickly”) and then SPACIFIC (i.e. “having particular sound”, i.e. a homophone of “specific” – I’m seldom impressed when setters use non-existent words as homophones in their solutions, but this takes some beating).

30. Italian fellow’s regularly alluring air (5)

Answer: LUIGI (i.e. “Italian fellow” – for non-existent homophones, see also people’s names). “Regularly” indicates the solution is derived through removing every other letter of ALLURING AIR.

31. Confuse viewpoint of otolaryngologists? (8)

Answer: ENTANGLE (i.e. “confuse”). “Otolaryngologists” are specialists in the ear, nose and throat areas of the body, often abbreviated to ENT. The clue therefore hints the “viewpoint” of such specialists would be an ENT ANGLE.

32. One of Mitford’s aristos accepting suggestion for psalm (8)

Answer: ANTIPHON, which is a type of church music sung by two parties each responding to the other (i.e. “psalm”). Bear with me here. In the novel The Pursuit of Love by Nancy “Mitford” there are upper-crust characters collectively named The Hons. One such “aristo” would therefore be AN HON. “Accepting” TIP (i.e. “suggestion”), you would then get: AN-(TIP)-HON. Don’t worry, I’ve not read her either.

35. Study dance, providing fee for postponement (8)

Answer: CONTANGO, which, in stockbroking circles, is a percentage paid by the buyer to the seller of stock for keeping back its delivery until the next settlement day (i.e. “fee for postponement”). Solution is CON (an archaic word for “study” often used by setters in their solutions) followed by TANGO (i.e. “dance”). A small admission: I’ve worked in the industry for donkey’s years (albeit very much back-office) and I’ve never come across this word before, probably because 99+% of stock delivery is now done electronically. Cool word, all the same, though not as good as scripophily. Anyway, I’m blathering…

36. Detached Roman statesman with animals from the east (8)

Answer: STACCATO, a musical term for notes that are “detached” or disconnected. Solution is CATO (i.e. “Roman statesman” – there were a couple of them to choose from) preceded by CATS (i.e. “animals”) which is reversed (indicated by “from the east”, this being an across clue), like so: STAC-CATO.

37. Outspoken woman receiving military commander (5)

Answer: VOCAL (i.e. “outspoken”). Solution is VAL (i.e. “woman”, short for Valerie) “receiving” OC (i.e. “military commander”, specifically an Officer Commanding), like so: V(OC)AL.

39. Upright rider’s second woman at frontier, we hear (12)

Answer: SKATEBOARDER (i.e. “upright rider”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) followed by KATE (i.e. “woman”, short for Katherine) and then BOARDER (i.e. “frontier, we hear”, i.e. a homophone of “border”).

41. Saw about taking to the water and making merry (10)

Answer: WASSAILING (i.e. “making merry”). Solution is SAW reversed (indicated by “about”) and followed by SAILING (i.e. “taking to the water”).

43. Cleft stick girl’s found by river at Pontypridd (7)

Answer: DISTAFF, which is a “cleft stick” used to keep hold of the wool in spinning. Solution is DI’S (i.e. “girl’s” – I was getting weary of the setter’s overuse of people’s names in their clues by this point) followed by TAFF (i.e. “river at Pontypridd”).

45. Mount further industrial action, ringing pub to agree on terms (6,1,7)

Answer: STRIKE A BARGAIN (i.e. “agree on terms”). Solution is GAIN (i.e. “[to] further”) “mounted” by STRIKE (i.e. “industrial action”) and then split around or “ringing” A BAR (i.e. “pub”), like so: STRIKE-(A-BAR)-GAIN. Again, not a great one, this.

48. Singers in Cuba’s side streets (5)

Answer: BASSI (i.e. “singers”, a plural of the Italian term “basso”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: CU(BA’S SI)DE.

49. Gangster’s way to enter parts of builder’s course (9)

Answer: CAPSTONES, which are the top or finishing stones of a structure (i.e. “parts of builder’s course”). Solution is CAPONE’S (i.e. “gangster’s”, specifically Al Capone) with ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) “entering”, like so: CAP(ST)ONES.

51. Foot of giant bird encountered in the east (7)

Answer: TROCHEE, which, in prosody, is a “foot” of two syllables, a long followed by a short. Yeah, me neither. This was one I got purely through the wordplay. Solution is ROC (i.e. a “giant bird” of legend) placed “in” THE and E (a recognised abbreviation of “east”), like so: T(ROC)HE-E.

53. Slow mover gets into a riot, carelessly (5,8)

Answer: GIANT TORTOISE (i.e. “slow mover”). “Carelessly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GETS INTO A RIOT.

54. Talmudic scholar’s chatter about rejection of wrongdoing (9)

Answer: RABBINIST (i.e. “Talmudic scholar”). Solution is RABBIT (i.e. “chatter”) placed “about” SIN (i.e. “wrongdoing”) reversed (indicated by “rejection”), like so: RABBI(NIS)T.

55. Fully developed type demanding change of leader (6)

Answer: MATURE (i.e. “fully developed”). Solution is NATURE (i.e. “type”) with a “change of leader” or initial letter. The only other word it can be is “mature”.

56. Uncultivated Greek character given inventory in English (10)

Answer: PHILISTINE (i.e. “uncultivated”). Solution is PHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by LIST (i.e. “inventory”) then IN and finally E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

57. Part of spring attached to 50% of beds, perhaps (5)

Answer: MAYBE (i.e. “perhaps”). Solution is MAY (i.e. “part of spring [months]”) followed by BE (i.e. “50% of beds”, specifically the first 50%).

Down clues

1. Like Eeyore’s second expression of impatience (6)

Answer: MOPISH (i.e. “like Eeyore”). Solution is MO (i.e. “second”, specifically a short form of “moment”) followed by PISH (i.e. “expression of impatience”).

2. Quiet old insider prepared to return to civilian employment (13)

Answer: DEREQUISITION (i.e. “return to civilian employment”). “Prepared” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUIET INSIDER and O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”).

3. Piece of meat – item regularly forming dish (5)

Answer: CUTIE (i.e. “dish”, as in a smart girl or something cute – I know it’s a recognised word but there’s something about it that feels profoundly creepy these days). Solution is CUT (i.e. “piece of meat”) followed by IE (i.e. “item regularly”, i.e. every other letter of ITEM), like so: CUT-IE.

4. Passes first of workmen carrying a tool (7)

Answer: HANDSAW (i.e. “tool”). Solution is HANDS (i.e. “passes”) and W (i.e. “first of workmen”, i.e. the first letter of “workmen”) “carrying” A, like so: HANDS-(A)-W.

5. Go over again, about to surrender (12)

Answer: RECAPITULATE (i.e. “go over again”). Solution is RE (i.e. “about”, often used in email replies) followed by CAPITULATE (i.e. “to surrender”).

6. Fax Mary starts off about affliction of the armpit (8)

Answer: AXILLARY (i.e. “of the armpit”). Solution is FAX and MARY with the initial letters removed (indicated by “starts off”) and the remaining letters wrapped “about” ILL (i.e. “affliction”), like so: AX-(ILL)-ARY. Another I got purely from the wordplay.

7. Like some cereal Oscar put away before noon (5)

Answer: OATEN (i.e. “like some cereal”). Solution is O (“Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by ATE (i.e. “put away”) and then N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”).

8. Like a Weill opera, costing very little once (10)

Answer: THREEPENNY. Solution satisfies “like a Weill opera”, referencing Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, and “costing very little once”, referring to the old threepenny bit.

10. Insistent a worker must shore up barrier (7)

Answer: ADAMANT (i.e. “insistent”). Solution is A and ANT (i.e. “worker”) wrapped around or “shoring up” DAM (i.e. “barrier”), like so: A-(DAM)-ANT.

11. Completely safe dessert, one originally consumed by academic (9)

Answer: FOOLPROOF (i.e. “completely safe”). Solution is FOOL (i.e. “dessert”) followed by O (i.e. “one originally”, i.e. the first letter of “one”) placed in or “consumed by” PROF (i.e. “academic”), like so: FOOL-PR(O)OF.

12. Member of ruling family put up by Republican circle (5)

Answer: ROYAL (i.e. “member of ruling family”). Solution is LAY (i.e. “put”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and fronted “by” R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) and O (i.e. “circle”), like so: R-O-YAL.

13. Intimates favour crooked man in scoop (4,10)

Answer: BOON COMPANIONS (i.e. “intimates”). Solution is BOON (i.e. “favour”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “crooked”) of MAN IN SCOOP. This was the last clue I solved and took some doing even though “companions” was an easy get. The solution is not a phrase I’m familiar with and doesn’t feature in my Chambers. Nicely played, all the same.

20. Free former con briefly at end of sentence (9)

Answer: EXTRICATE (i.e. “free”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) followed by TRICK (i.e. “con”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”), then AT and then E (i.e. “end of sentence”, i.e. the last letter of “sentence”), like so: EX-TRIC-AT-E. A good clue that scans rather well.

21. Vestment certain to incorporate new clip (8)

Answer: SURPLICE (i.e. “vestment”). Solution is SURE (i.e. “certain”) “incorporating” an anagram (indicated by “new”) of CLIP, like so: SUR(PLIC)E. Another I got purely through the wordplay and only once I’d had a few letters filled in.

23. Practical sciences only the GOC deployed (10)

Answer: TECHNOLOGY (i.e. “practical sciences”). “Deployed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ONLY THE GOC.

24. Stressed computer studies woman with daughter touring islands (10)

Answer: ITALICISED (i.e. “stressed”). Solution is IT (i.e. “computer studies” – this is weak in my opinion: computer studies and information technology aren’t necessarily the same; the former is a relatively small subset of the latter #PedantsYay) followed by ALICE (i.e. “woman” – sigh…) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) placed around or “touring” IS (ditto “islands”), like so: IT-ALIC(IS)E-D.

26. Experience efficient estate manager’s sense of wellbeing (4-4,6)

Answer: FEEL-GOOD FACTOR (i.e. “sense of wellbeing”). Solution is FEEL (i.e. “experience”) followed by GOOD FACTOR (i.e. “efficient estate manager”). For a while I had the first two words of this clue as “good-will”, which was clearly not the case. Nicely played, setter.

28. Nagging civilian in garrison principally restricting husband (9)

Answer: CHIVVYING (i.e. “nagging”). Solution is CIVVY (i.e. “civilian”) followed by IN and then G (i.e. “garrison principally”, i.e. the first letter of “garrison”), which are all wrapped around or “restricting” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”), like so: C(H)IVVY-IN-G.

29. Woollen items knight placed among gear on river (8)

Answer: KNITWEAR (i.e. “woollen items”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “knight” used in chess) “placed among” KIT (i.e. “gear”) and then followed by WEAR (i.e. “river”), like so: K(N)IT-WEAR. Another clue that scans rather well.

33. Greek character with house worked in mythic Asian port (2,3,4,4)

Answer: HO CHI MINH CITY (i.e. “Asian port”). Solution is CHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet) placed “with” or behind HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “worked”) of IN MYTHIC, like so: HO-CHI-MINHCITY.

34. Artist in Irish county composed airs outside eastern inn (12)

Answer: CARAVANSERAI, which is a kind of unfurnished “inn” in some Eastern countries in which caravans stop. Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) placed “in” CAVAN (i.e. “Irish county”) and followed by an anagram (indicated by “composed”) of AIRS which itself is placed “outside” of E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”), like so: CA(RA)VAN-S(E)RAI. Not a word I was familiar with, but I rather like it.

38. Peevish type giving mongrel a common dog’s name (10)

Answer: CROSSPATCH (i.e. “peevish type”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “mongrel”) followed by PATCH (i.e. “a common dog’s name” – hmm, really?). Another word I wasn’t familiar with, but another I rather like.

40. One leaving Francis’s place beat rear of flippant aide (9)

Answer: ASSISTANT (i.e. “aide”). Solution is ASSISI (i.e. “[Saint] Francis’s place”) with the final I removed (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one leaving”) and then followed by TAN (i.e. “beat”) and T (i.e. “rear of flippant”, i.e. the last letter of “flippant”), like so: ASSIS-TAN-T.

42. Society family not so devoid of cover (8)

Answer: SKINLESS (i.e. “devoid of cover”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and LESS (i.e. “not so”).

44. One flying aircraft at first by way of rocky peak (7)

Answer: AVIATOR (i.e. “one flying”). Solution is A (i.e. “aircraft at first”, i.e. the first letter of “aircraft”) followed by VIA (i.e. “by way of”) and TOR (i.e. “rocky peak”).

46. Current board suitable for representing on stage (7)

Answer: ACTABLE (i.e. “suitable for representing on stage”). Solution is AC (i.e. “current”, specifically alternating current) followed by TABLE (i.e. “board”).

47. Take up residence in N Yorks town (6)

Answer: SETTLE. Solution satisfies “take up residence” and “N Yorks town”. I’m never keen when setters use tiny towns as solutions – Settle in this case having a population of less than 3,000 people – but they do have a knack of picking towns with some geographical or historical significance. In this case, “Settle” being an actual word helps too!

48. High-ranking Muslim woman, say taken in by tramp (5)

Answer: BEGUM (i.e. “high-ranking Muslim woman”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) “taken in by” BUM (i.e. “tramp”), like so: B(EG)UM. One I got through a combination of the wordplay and recent-ish news events.

50. Leaving hospital, get excited and sing (5)

Answer: TRILL (i.e. “sing”). Solution is THRILL (i.e. “get excited”) with the H (a recognised abbreviation of “hospital”) removed or “leaving”.

52. Work on island with hesitation, producing narcotic drug (5)

Answer: OPIUM (i.e. “narcotic drug”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, short for “operation”) followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and UM (i.e. “hesitation”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1381

Another easyish one this week, though there were a few odd words in there that had me scrabbling through the dictionary. A few well-worked clues helped make this a rather pleasant puzzle overall – a good run of late. You can find my completed grid below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful in your quest for cruciverbalist perfection.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin: if you have an old Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you’d like the answers, then my Just For Fun page might see you right. If horror fiction is your thing and you’d like to read me wang on about it, then my Reviews page might be of interest.

Right-oh. On with the show.


Across clues

1. Light rain: Jack sheltering in hollow that’s welcoming (10)

Answer: HOSPITABLE (i.e. “welcoming”). Solution is SPIT (i.e. “light rain”) and AB (i.e. “jack”, specifically a seaman of the Able Bodied variety) “sheltering in” HOLE (i.e. “hollow”), like so: HO(SPIT-AB)LE.

6. Ignorant group is taken in by hacker (4,3,5)

Answer: NONE THE WISER (i.e. “ignorant”). Solution is NONET (i.e. “group”, specifically a group of nine players) followed by HEWER (i.e. “hacker”) “taking in” IS, like so: NONET-HEW(IS)ER. I had the solution right from the off but it took me most of the puzzle to figure out how it was composed. Nicely done.

14. Animal has tail at first, one to cut back (7)

Answer: POLECAT (i.e. “animal”). Solution is T (i.e. “tail at first”, i.e. the first letter of “tail”) followed by ACE (i.e. “one” in cards) and LOP (i.e. “to cut”), all reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: POL-ECA-T.

15. Source of wealth around old church of a distant epoch (7)

Answer: MIOCENE (i.e. “of a distant epoch”, specifically of an era between 23,000,000 and 5,000,000 years ago). Solution is MINE (i.e. “source of wealth”, e.g. a goldmine) placed “around” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: MI(O-CE)NE. I had an idea of what this could be, but it took some rummaging through my Chambers to nail it.

16. Emperor carrying on with unknown character – that’s anything but love? (3-4)

Answer: NON-ZERO (i.e. “that’s anything but love” – a play on “love” being zero in tennis). Solution is NERO (i.e. “emperor”) “carrying” ON and Z (i.e. “unknown character” – setters often use “unknown” to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions), like so: N(ON-Z)ERO.

17. Mock a noted conclusion (4)

Answer: CODA (i.e. “noted conclusion”, as in the end part of a musical composition). Solution is COD (i.e. “mock”) followed by A.

18. Discussion involving Tory – amazing (6)

Answer: CONFAB (i.e. “discussion”, short for confabulation). Solution is CON (a recognised abbreviation of Conservative, i.e. “Tory”) and FAB (i.e. “amazing”).

20. Attentive chap from East Timor? (8)

Answer: DILIGENT (i.e. “attentive”). Solution is DILI (capital of “East Timor”) followed by GENT (i.e. “chap”), as in a DILI GENT. A rather well-worked clue.

24. Now partner has ruined everything, after happening to cause upset (5,1,7,2,3,5)

Answer: THROW A SPANNER IN THE WORKS (i.e. “cause upset”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of NOW PARTNER HAS, followed by IN (i.e. “happening”, as in what is fashionable) and THE WORKS (i.e. “everything”) placed “after” it, like so: THROWASPANNER-IN-THEWORKS.

25. Girl has put short stockings on – hallelujah! (7)

Answer: HOSANNA, an exclamation of praise to God (i.e. “hallelujah”). Solution is ANNA (i.e. “girl”) fronted by or “having put on” HOSE (i.e. “stockings”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”), like so: HOS-ANNA.

26. Friend a nuisance in European city (8)

Answer: BUDAPEST (i.e. “European city”, specifically the capital of Hungary). Solution is BUD (i.e. “friend”) followed by A and PEST (i.e. “nuisance”).

27. In a fine spray deodorant initially contained (6)

Answer: AMIDST (i.e. “in”). Solution is A MIST (i.e. “a fine spray”) “containing” D (i.e. “deodorant initially”, i.e. the first letter of “deodorant”), like so: A-MI(D)ST.

29. Thickness not diminished, roughly about right (5,9)

Answer: THIRD DIMENSION (i.e. “thickness”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “roughly”) of NOT DIMINISHED placed “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: THI(R)DDIMENSION.

31. Pernicious lady about to steal fella’s heart (8)

Answer: DAMNABLE (i.e. “pernicious”). Solution is DAME (i.e. “lady”) placed “about” NAB (i.e. “to steal”) and L (i.e. “fella’s heart”, i.e. the middle letter of “fella”), like so: DAM(NAB-L)E. Another well-worked clue.

34. Interesting it’s coming together (8)

Answer: ENGAGING. Solution satisfies “interesting” and “coming together”, as in getting engaged to marry.

36. Turning scarlet, the sour dessert (9,5)

Answer: CHARLOTTE RUSSE, a kind of cake that, from the images I’ve seen, looks to be around 80% cream, i.e. “dessert”. “Turning” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SCARLET THE SOUR.

39. About to marry deadwood (6)

Answer: REFUSE (as in rubbish, i.e. “deadwood”). Solution is RE (i.e. “about”) and FUSE (i.e. “to marry”).

41. Stairs including an opening (8)

Answer: FANLIGHT, which is a window over a door or another window (i.e. “opening”). Solution is FLIGHT (i.e. “stairs”) “including” AN, like so: F(AN)LIGHT.

43. Anxious over cracks in heater returning (7)

Answer: NERVOUS (i.e. “anxious”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cracks”) of OVER, which is placed “in” SUN (i.e. “heater”) which is reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: N(ERVO)US.

46. Having saved little US cash, silly granddad, he wed nan, getting severely punished (6,5,3,9)

Answer: HANGED DRAWN AND QUARTERED (i.e. “severely punished” – they didn’t do things by halves back in Middle Ages #exitsstage). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “silly”) of GRANDDAD HE WED NAN, which is placed about or “saving” QUARTER (i.e. “little US cash”), like so: HANGEDDRAWNAND(QUARTER)ED.

47. Quibble darling? Move well back! (8)

Answer: PETTIFOG (i.e. “quibble” – a pettifogger is a solicitor who deals quibblingly with trivial cases). Solution is PET (i.e. “darling”) followed by GO (i.e. “move”) and FIT (i.e. “well”) which are both reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: PET-TIF-OG.

48. State having twisted story, journalist going into it (6)

Answer: SWEDEN (i.e. “state”). Solution is NEWS (i.e. “story”) which is reversed (indicated by “twisted”) and ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of an editor) “going into it”, like so: SW(ED)EN.

49. Suspect image for recollection, provided in terrible case (1-3)

Answer: E-FIT, which is the modern-day equivalent of photofit images of criminals based on eyewitness accounts, (i.e. “suspect image”). Solution is IF (i.e. “provided” – a nod to Clive in the comments section of previous posts for this) placed “in” TE (i.e. “terrible case”, i.e. the first and last letters of the word “terrible”). The whole lot is then reversed (indicated by “for recollection”), like so: E(FI)T. Another well-worked clue.

53. Equal measure in a tumbler originally containing reduced drink (7)

Answer: ALIQUOT (i.e. “equal measure”). Solution is A and T (i.e. “tumbler originally”, i.e. the first letter of “tumbler”) which “contain” LIQUOR (i.e. “drink”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “reduced”), like so: A-(LIQUO)-T. Not a word I’m familiar with, so chalk one to my Chambers for this.

54. Mineral container one returned, awaiting delivery (2,5)

Answer: IN UTERO (i.e. “[of a baby] awaiting delivery”). Solution is ORE (i.e. “mineral”) followed by TUN (i.e. “container”) and I (Roman numeral “one”), all reversed (indicated by “returned”), like so: I-NUT-ERO.

56. Finally abandoning south for north, then a US city (7)

Answer: ATLANTA (i.e. “US city”). Solution is AT LAST (i.e. “finally”) with the S (recognised abbreviation of “south”) “abandoned for” or replaced by N (ditto “north”), “then” followed by A, like so: AT-LANT-A.

57. Drink in exciting bars, say? (3,9)

Answer: HOT CHOCOLATE (i.e. “drink”). Solution is HOT (i.e. “exciting”) followed by CHOLOTATE (i.e. “bars, say”, suggesting one form in which chocolate is served).

58. Sweet wine no great shakes? (10)

Answer: AFTERSHOCK (i.e. “no great shakes” – still rather hairy for anyone unlucky enough to experience them, though). Solution is AFTERS (i.e. “sweet”, as in a pudding) followed by HOCK (i.e. “wine”).

Down clues

1. After trip, stop game (9)

Answer: HOPSCOTCH (i.e. “game”). Solution is HOP (i.e. “trip”) with SCOTCH (i.e. “[to] stop”) placed “after” it.

2. Saucy thing beginning to strip – a boy doing otherwise? (5,8)

Answer: SALAD DRESSING (i.e. “saucy thing”). Solution is S (i.e. “beginning to strip”, i.e. the first letter of “strip”) followed by A LAD (i.e. “a boy”) and DRESSING (i.e. “doing otherwise” – in the context of the clue, one dressing would be the opposite of one stripping).

3. Island, a short distance (4)

Answer: INCH. Solution satisfies a Scottish or Irish word for an “island”, and “a short distance”.

4. Sat on Titanic so agitated, prepare for a battle! (6,8)

Answer: ACTION STATIONS (i.e. “prepare for a battle!”). “Agitated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SAT ON TITANIC SO.

5. In Nepal, a meteor hit (3)

Answer: LAM (i.e. “hit”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NEPA(L A M)ETEOR.

7. Original ode’s first up for poet (4)

Answer: Wilfred OWEN (i.e. “poet”). Solution is NEW (i.e. “original”) followed by O (i.e. “ode’s first”), which are then reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue), like so: O-WEN.

8. One seeing English tree, it overlooking cape (10)

Answer: EYEWITNESS (i.e. “one seeing”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by YEW (i.e. “tree”), then IT, which are all placed above or “overlooking” (again, this being a down clue) NESS (i.e. a headland or “cape”), like so: E-YEW-IT-NESS.

9. Party bringing leaders of neighbouring nations into prominence (3,5)

Answer: HEN NIGHT (i.e. “party”). Solution is N and N (i.e. “leaders of neighbouring nations”, i.e. the initial letters of “neighbouring” and “nations”) which is placed “into” HEIGHT (i.e. “prominence”), likes so: HE(N-N)IGHT. Another good ‘un.

10. Extraordinary female made up new word where Arabic spoken (6,5)

Answer: WONDER WOMAN (i.e. “extraordinary female”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “made up”) of NEW WORD followed by OMAN (i.e. “where Arabic spoken”).

11. Protected pigs ultimately led there to be slaughtered (9)

Answer: SHELTERED (i.e. “protected”). Solution is S (i.e. “pigs ultimately”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “slaughtered”) of LED THERE.

12. Little jumper, fine top (4)

Answer: ROOF (i.e. “top”). Solution is ROO (i.e. “little jumper”, as in a baby kangaroo) followed by F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”).

13. Together in neatly arranged houses (8)

Answer: COMBINED (i.e. “together”). Solution is IN which is “housed” within COMBED (i.e. “neatly”), like so: COMB(IN)ED.

19. Lit up at dinnertime, darling goes in to eat (8)

Answer: FLAMBEED (i.e. “lit up at dinnertime”). Solution is LAMB (i.e. “darling”) which “goes in” FEED (i.e. “to eat”), like so: F(LAMB)EED.

21. Identical daughter gets hold of bandage finally for wound (6)

Answer: TWINED (i.e. “wound”). Solution is TWIN D (i.e. “identical daughter” – D being a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) which “gets hold of” E (i.e. “bandage finally”, i.e. the last letter of “bandage”), like so: TWIN-(E)-D.

22. Inspired by rock, style of music to perform – that’s for dropouts? (4,4)

Answer: TRAP DOOR (i.e. “that’s for dropouts”). Solution is RAP (i.e. “style of music”) and DO (i.e. “to perform”) which is placed in or “inspired by” TOR (i.e. “rock”), like so: T(RAP-DO)OR. Another clue that scans rather well.

23. Weariest when travelling, in a kind of way (2,2,4)

Answer: AS IT WERE (i.e. “in a kind of way”). “When travelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WEARIEST.

28. Mean knock? (7,7)

Answer: BATTING AVERAGE. In cricket, a “knock” is a batsman’s score in a single innings, while “mean” is another word for “average”).

29. Ecclesiastical governors the chief enemy in conclusion (8)

Answer: THEARCHY (i.e. “ecclesiastical governors”). Solution is THE followed by ARCH (i.e. “chief”) and Y (i.e. “enemy in conclusion”, i.e. the last letter of “enemy”).

30. English town succeeded before the French city (2,6)

Answer: ST HELENS (i.e. “English town”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) followed by THE and LENS (i.e. “French city”).

32. Singer ending in club like so, for enjoyable party (5,8)

Answer: BASSO PROFUNDO (i.e. “singer” – never heard of him #lamejoke). Solution is B (i.e. “ending in club”, i.e. the last letter of “club”) followed by AS (i.e. “like”), then SO, then PRO (i.e. “for”), then FUN (i.e. “enjoyable”) and DO (i.e. “party”), like so: B-AS-SO-PRO-FUN-DO.

33. Match fit, perhaps, though no start in store (8)

Answer: BOUTIQUE (i.e. “store”). Solution is BOUT (i.e. “match”) followed by PIQUE (i.e. “fit, perhaps”) which has had its initial letter removed (indicated by “though no start”), like so: BOUT-IQUE. For some reason this took bloody ages for me to get, given only the even letters.

35. Essay on wheat, book totally factual (6,5)

Answer: GOSPEL TRUTH (i.e. “totally factual”). Solution is GO (i.e. “[to] essay”) followed by SPELT (i.e. an inferior variety of “wheat”) and then RUTH (i.e. “book”, as in one of the books of the Old Testament). A comparatively tough clue, this.

37. Curiosity – artist needs it to read between the lines? (6)

Answer: RARITY (i.e. “curiosity”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by IT which is placed “between” RY (i.e. “the lines”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: RA-R(IT)Y.

38. Hot stuff, with nothing in court case being vulgar (10)

Answer: LAVATORIAL (i.e. “vulgar”). Solution is LAVA (i.e. “hot stuff”) followed by O (i.e. “nothing”) which has been placed “in” TRIAL (i.e. “court case”), like so: LAVA-T(O)RIAL.

40. Details I infer scattered around page on book (4,5)

Answer: FINE PRINT (i.e. “details”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “scattered”) of I INFER which is placed “around” P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”), and then followed by NT (i.e. “book”, specifically the New Testament), like so: FINE(P)RI-NT.

42. Criminal comedian admitting beaten, finally (8)

Answer: GANGSTER (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is GAGSTER (i.e. “comedian”) “admitting” N (i.e. “beaten, finally”, i.e. the last letter of “beaten”), like so: GA(N)GSTER.

44. Distract team with song (9)

Answer: SIDETRACK (i.e. “distract”). Solution is SIDE (i.e. “team”) followed by TRACK (i.e. “song”).

45. A bit of water and a second, neither quite finding sea (8)

Answer: ADRIATIC (i.e. “sea”). Solution is A DRIP (i.e. “a bit of water”) “and” A TICK (i.e. “a second”), both of which have their last letters removed (indicated by “neither quite”), like so: A-DRI-A-TIC.

50. Dish – or pot? (4)

Answer: HASH. Solution satisfies both “dish” and “pot”, as in hashish.

51. Sculptor’s piece in pieces! (4)

Answer: BUST. Solution satisfies “sculptor’s piece” and “in pieces”. I rather liked this one.

52. Something more luxurious, cut (4)

Answer: PLUS (i.e. “something more”). Solution is PLUSH (i.e. “luxurious”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “cut”).

55. A female with nothing up top? (3)

Answer: OAF (i.e. “[having] nothing up top”, as in one having no brain). Solution is A then F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) with O (i.e. “nothing”) placed “up top” of them, this being a down clue, like so: O-A-F. Another I rather liked.

Review: Best New Horror 5

(If you would like an overview of the stories published in the first four books of the series, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

Best New Horror 5 showcases twenty-nine horror shorts that were published during 1993 and was the last instalment of the series to be edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell. As with previous books in the series, Best New Horror 5 is a mixed bag with runs of good stories here and there. A strong finish to the anthology helps push this into 4/5 territory.

As for the stories themselves, let’s take a look:


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

Later – Michael Marshall Smith (4/5 – A man watches in horror as his beloved Rachel is cruelly knocked down in a hit-and-run accident. She dies in his arms a moment later. Our man is devastated and tries his best to get through the awful events that must follow, such as informing Rachel’s parents, attending her funeral and wake, and adjusting to living alone in a house still filled with her effects. Soon after the funeral, and unable to face life without her, he goes to macabre lengths to bring Rachel back home. This was a good read with touching and believable expressions of grief, but was spoiled slightly the moment the supernatural was brought in. Slight spoiler – this was originally published in a zombie anthology, so I guess it had to go there, but I reckon Later would have packed a bigger punch had it ended just before the zombie stuff kicked in.)

When The Red Storm Comes – Sarah Smith (4/5 – We’re in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. Peace talks are taking place between Russia and Japan, and the town is awash with foreign diplomats and their entourages. Amid the hubbub Susan Wentworth finds herself the subject of Count Ferenc Zohary’s intense interest. He promises to make her a vampire, just like him – if he is indeed what he says he is. Horror veterans will have read umpteen stories of vampire rumpy such as this over the years, but the interesting setting makes this worth a look.)

The Exhibit – Martin Plumbridge (4/5 – Suzie is enduring a succession of drab beach-side attractions with her father, all the while wishing she was somewhere else. When her father suggests they try The Wax Museum, Suzie stays put and sends him in on his own. When he fails to materialise some time later, Suzie and the museum’s attendant head in to investigate. I liked this more than I thought I would, given the setup. The story goes in some unexpected directions, which helps to build a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere.)

Leavings – Kathe Koja (3/5 – Gordon finds he is being haunted by the long choking hair of his dead lover Sophy. He’s pulling hair from the back of his throat, from his food, from his drink, seemingly everywhere. But why is Sophy haunting him so? I wasn’t terribly keen on this the first time around. It’s told in an increasingly cut-up style to give us a sense of the madness taking hold of Gordon, but it didn’t take long for this to get on my nerves. Stories that set themselves up as difficult reads live or die on the willingness of the reader to go along with it, and it soon felt like this was a story that was determined to throw me out. It evidently succeeded as a second reading revealed a wonderfully creepy ending I’d missed the first time around. I’ve therefore upped the score a notch from my original review. Leavings is worth a look if you have the patience for it.)

Originally collected in Bryant’s “Darker Passions”

Human Remains – Edward Bryant (3/5 – A group of women meet at a hotel. They dine together even though they have never met before. They are each survivors of a man recently executed for serial rape and murder, and the women exchange their experiences of him. Vicky shares the story of her narrow escape but leaves out a few crucial details, not least that she secretly wishes to feel the thrill of her near-death experience once more. In her bag is a Barbie doll wrapped in its entirety with fishing wire, seemingly left for her in the ladies’ toilet. A lure, perhaps? I’ve rarely felt as conflicted about a story as I did here. There’s a nasty undercurrent that grows the longer you dwell on it. Scored purely on the unease the story creates, this would be a 5/5, but I can’t say I liked this one.)

Also collected in Royle’s “Mortality”

Flying Into Naples – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Royle fills the “holiday horror” slot for this particular instalment of Best New Horror with a weird slipstreamy story about a divorcee jetting into Naples in the hope of re-engaging with an old flame, Flavia. On his travels he experiences a bizarre episode, meeting a dying man not unlike himself who tells him where Flavia lives. When he tracks her down our man finds that Flavia only really comes alive when she is in her car. At all other times she is almost grey and lifeless, as if she is gathering a fine layer of dust like everything else around town. Flavia also claims to have been widowed six times, an enigmatic warning our man would do well to heed. I wasn’t overly keen on this story from the outset. My unshakeable impression was that we were on holiday with a stalker, and I’m not entirely convinced that was intentional. The story is rescued somewhat by the impressive sense of place Royle creates, giving us a good flavour of Naples and its surrounding areas.)

Also collected in Brite’s “Swamp Foetus”

The Sixth Sentinel – Poppy Z. Brite (5/5 – In this superb ghost story we are in the company of Jean Lafitte, feared pirate and privateer of New Orleans’ French Quarter during the mid-nineteenth century. Now long dead, he haunts his old stamping grounds. In one such place lives Rosalie Smith, a world-weary twentysomething who strips by night and fills the rest of her waking hours slugging hard liquor. Jean is smitten and is not shy about making himself known to her. Rosalie is unconcerned by his presence, often talking freely with him, but she flatly refuses his offers of undiscovered treasure. She’s not keen on digging stuff up. Keen to ease Rosalie’s mental hurt, Jean enters her dreams to find the source of her pain. But is that his only motivation? If you liked His Mouth Will Taste Of Wormwood, Brite’s story in Best New Horror 2 (and also collected in Swamp Foetus) then you’ll love this. Unmissable.)

The Brothers – Rick Cadger (4/5 – Ian is driving home with his odious brother-in-law, Neville, who is stopping over for a few days. Home is the picturesque village of Galham with its pair of large serpentine statues erected like bookends on either side: The Brothers Bokovan and Yusenoi. Only those born of Galham can see The Brothers and each Galhamite has allegiance to one or the other. The Brothers quietly bless their subjects with success and longevity in return for their loyalty… and for a once-in-a-lifetime test of their faith. Events take a bizarre turn when, upon arriving home, Ian suddenly finds himself a guest; that somehow his wife is now married to Neville. This story has no right to work as well as it does. For a start it’s written in the second person, a tough sell for me. Not only that, The Brothers operates solely and unapologetically on its own terms and it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. And yet it’s a wonderfully weird read. Definitely worth a look.)

The Owen Street Monster – J. L. Comeau (4/5 – A mean and mighty fine story told entirely as a sequence of phone calls made by Janine, the neighbourhood queen bee, to her closest friends. It seems some of Janine’s friends aren’t coping very well. Some are doubting whether the titular monster they’d killed was a monster at all. To say any more would be to give the game away, suffice to say this is a devilishly fun short.)

Also collected in Klein’s “Reassuring Tales”

One Size Eats All – T. E. D. Klein (4/5 – Continuing the devilish fun is a story in which a young lad, Andy, receives a sleeping bag for Christmas. Both he and his older brother are planning to camp out on Mount Wendigo, so this is all very well. But the packaging seems to contain a misprint, declaring the sleeping bag to be “One Size Eats All”. At least Andy hopes it’s a misprint. Though this story was written for kids, Klein doesn’t shy away from pressing all the scary buttons. A mighty fine way to spend ten minutes.)

Mulligan’s Fence – Donald R. Burleson (4/5 – Kelly returns to the neighbourhood where she grew up. The apartment block in which she lived is long gone, razed to the ground, but old man Mulligan’s fence still stands. Kelly scans the wood, running her fingers over the initials carved there, remembering the names, unaware she is also somehow drawing some of her old childhood friends back to the fence. For the most part this was a straight-up 3/5. As short as the story was, it lingered much too long on a roll call of inconsequential characters from Kelly’s past, but the Tales-From-The-Crypt-style ending just about rescued it.)

How She Dances – Daniel Fox (4/5 – Michael shares a taxi with Alice, who is trying to get home to her baby, Anne-Marie. Michael is wary of Alice from the off. She seems unstable, speaking in halting sentences, struggling to get her meaning across, but one thing becomes clear: Alice didn’t arrange a babysitter. Michael is concerned for Anne-Marie’s welfare but soon comes to regret not leaving well enough alone. Like Kathe Koja’s Impermanent Mercies (featured in Best New Horror 3) this story reminded me of a nightmarish sketch in Chris Morris’s Blue Jam radio show (the sketch with the plumber, he says tiptoeing around spoilers). It’s a good read, though one that is guilty of forever warning the reader of the horror to come, which is a rather cheap way of building tension.)

Also collected in “Masters of the Weird Tale: Karl Edward Wagner”

Passages – Karl Edward Wagner (3/5 – Three old friends meet at a school reunion and fall into a conversation detailing their secret horrors. Freddie tells how his sisters and their friends would dress him up in girls clothes. Marcia tells of how she was convinced she had spiders infesting her tight curly hair. Grant, a surgeon, tells of his hatred of needles – and how he managed to overcome his fear. For me, this was a misfire. Wagner does a good job of building up the story, creating a sense of unease as Grant tells his tale, but the payoff is underwhelming.)

Easing The Spring – Sally Roberts Jones (3/5 – A folksy horror tale which sees an environmental campaigner introduced to a young woman called Ceri in a somewhat obvious matchmaking attempt by Ceri’s grandmother. They hit it off, which turns out to be bad news for our man. This was okay, but most readers will be familiar with a number of other stories along these lines, not least of which *cough* a certain cult 1970’s British horror film starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward *cough*. Goodness me, that was a long cough.)

Also collected in the Tems’ “In Concert: The Collected Speculative Fiction”

Safe At Home – Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem (2/5 – Melinda is struggling to cope in her relationship with Charlie. Scenes of her inner conflict, of the horrors she experiences when they become intimate, are intercut with snatches of dialogue from Uncle Pat to his niece, Mandy, and Uncle Pat loves Mandy so very, very much. Boy, did this story piss me off the first time around. The Tems’ attempt to conflate child sex abuse and hairy Lovecraftian squid-sex, real or imagined, later in Mandy/Melinda’s life felt horribly misjudged; an opinion that hasn’t changed after a second reading. The subject matter is bad enough. Tacking monsters onto it serves only to cheapen the real horror at the centre of the story. Worse still, this grubby shocker was originally published in an anthology of erotic horror called Hottest Blood. I’m going to take erotic at its broadest meaning here – that of relating to sexual desire rather than arousing it – because the idea of someone getting their jollies off of this story doesn’t bear thinking about.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Flesh Wounds”

Mother Of The City – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – Douglas hates London. He hates how his friends have all moved there and made successes of their lives. Perhaps most of all he hates how he has been left behind. After sleepwalking through much of his twenties he suddenly has the good fortune to meet a young advertising executive, Michelle, through a work commission. To Douglas’s surprise, they hit it off. It seems life has turned a corner for our man, but it doesn’t take long for the cracks in their relationship to show. Unlike Douglas, Michelle absolutely adores London and when our man lets slip his true feelings about the place Michelle takes it to heart. After their differences manifest themselves into a full-blown row, Douglas soon regrets his idiocy and begs Michelle for another chance. When she agrees to meet him for dinner on her turf, Douglas finds London doesn’t want to play ball. Another winner from Fowler.)

Also collected in Hand’s “Last Summer at Mars Hill”

Justice – Elizabeth Hand (3/5 – Janet is a journalist who is stranded in a one-horse town after her editor pulls the story she’s working on. She is told to investigate a nearby cattle mutilation instead. Janet is furious, but reluctantly goes along with it. Later, she spies a familiar-looking RV parked in town with what sound like two huge dogs shut up inside. The RV belongs to itinerant lawyer, Irene Kirk, who Janet discovers has her own sense of justice. Hand’s excellent story The Bacchae in Best New Horror 3 was a modern take on Euripides’s tragedy. She dips into Greek mythology again for Justice, but doesn’t quite succeed. The story takes an age to get going, and feels overlong as a result.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Famous Monsters”

The Big Fish – Kim Newman (3/5 – From one author attempting to relive recent glories, it seems, to another. Newman gave us the superb Red Reign in Best New Horror 4, which was a fantastic mash-up of literary and real-life characters set in Victorian London, which then gave rise to his Anno Dracula series. In this novelette he tries another mash-up, this time plonking a Chandleresque private detective into a Lovecraftian world, but on this occasion he comes up short. The near-constant wisecracking of our shamus soon becomes tiresome, and the rather dry roll-call of names and movies dumped into the first half of the story could have been better spent developing some of the characters. In the end I suspect this was a lot more fun for Newman to write than it was for me to read.)

Also collected in Tessier’s “Ghost Music and Other Tales”

In The Desert Of Deserts – Thomas Tessier (3/5 – A man is crossing the Sahara desert because plot. (I’m not kidding. At no point do we know why he’s doing this, suffice to say that he is and he’s doing it in a Range Rover packed full of – air quotes – expensive equipment. Anyway, back to the plot.) He is advised to only drive at night by the locals, but soon finds this impractical. The roads, or at least what exists of them, are almost impossible for him to follow. He switches to daytime driving, but soon discovers why he was advised to drive at night. The next morning he finds footprints circling his camp, a presence that seems to haunt him every time he stops for the night. This was okay – Tessier’s depiction of the Sahara is a highlight – but the ending is weak.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Under The Crust”

Two Returns – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – We’re on the up again now with a wonderful Jamesian ghost story from a writer who would go on to make a number of welcome appearances in Best New Horror. In Two Returns we follow Mr Rudge, an old man who one evening witnesses a caped silhouetted figure standing manfully on a darkened railway platform. Rudge is alarmed to see glimpses of this shadowy figure all the way home. The shadow always seems to stay ahead of him. When Rudge gets in through the front door he finds a decidedly unwelcome cape hanging on his coat-hook. I picked up a copy of Lamsley’s Under The Crust, from which this story is taken, at the most recent World Fantasy Convention. Sadly that was all I did as the thing would have cost me $400 to purchase. Cripes!)

The Moment The Face Falls – Chet Williamson (4/5 – Paul Kenyon is a former screenwriter who knocks out a steady stream of pseudonymous novels to make ends meet. Out of the blue he receives a phone call from a producer who really, really liked that western he wrote decades ago – the one with Jimmy Stewart, the one directed by Anthony Mann – and he wants Kenyon to write the screenplay of a soon-to-be-published nailed-on bestseller. After so long in the wilderness things are finally looking up for Kenyon. What could possibly go wrong? Though not strictly speaking a horror story, it still has a certain Tales Of The Unexpected vibe to it. If you liked that show – and I very much did – then you’ll lap this up.)

Also collected in Somtow’s “The Pavilion of Frozen Women”

Darker Angels – S. P. Somtow (4/5 – This extraordinary story was originally published in an anthology called Confederacy Of The Dead, and it ticks pretty much every box of that premise. We’re witnessing the last dregs of the American Civil War through the eyes of Jimmy Lee, a fourteen-year-old boy left picking his way through a battlefield carpeted with the corpses of Confederate troops. Amid the carnage he meets Old Joseph, a former slave who seems to remember Jimmy from a decade earlier, and who is skilled in magic as old as the rivers and mountains of this young America. This is a terrific story – certainly a highlight of the book – but is sadly let down by an ending which feels at odds with the message it was trying to convey. Somtow would later develop this story into his novel Darker Angels, which I might have to seek out.)

The Timbrel Sound Of Darkness – Kathe Koja & Barry N. Malzberg (2/5 – The ghost of Jack the Ripper (or Springheel Jack, take your pick) takes to haunting Sir Arthur Sullivan (one half of Gilbert & Sullivan). Well, “haunting” is perhaps a bit strong. “Floats about telling Sullivan how shit and worthless his work is and will be in the fullness of time” may be a better description. A bit like me with this pointless story, I guess.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Noctuary”

The Tsalal – Thomas Ligotti (3/5 – The exhausted people of Moxton are desperate to leave town but find their every effort to escape is thwarted. Something is repelling them. Something is sucking the life out of Moxton, its people and seemingly all existence itself. The only one not affected is Andrew Maness, a man who possesses a book of knowledge called The Tsalal. This is another Lovecraftian effort from Ligotti, who seems here to have shifted from his usual lush storytelling style to the kind of stale, overly-verbose and hopelessly tangled prose you’d normally expect of H.P. himself. It’s a shame because, once you have hacked your way through the turgid first half of the story, The Tsalal really comes alive. Not his best, but worth sticking with.)

In The Still, Small Hours – Charles Grant (4/5 – Lucas is unable to accept that his other half, Joan, has perished in an air crash. He haunts the observation deck of a mostly empty airport nearly every week in the still, small hours. He watches as the last few planes descend and land, waiting for her. There he meets a mysterious man called Daryl, who Lucas assumes has recently landed. It seems Daryl knows a lot about the airport and its workings. Incredibly he also seems to know something about Joan. This was a fine ghost story that was initially a little slow but came to life once Daryl entered the scene. Grant also has some fun messing with your head: not every ghost in this airport is necessarily a person, for example. It’s an effective diversion. Just when you’re mentally separating the real from the ethereal, Grant slots in another of his wonderfully chill endings.)

Also collected in SRT’s “The Far Side Of The Lake”

Ice House Pond – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Bear with me here a moment, folks. Some of you might remember a while ago when TV executives hit upon a weird little phenomena: slow TV. Whether it was two hours of unbroken footage taken from the driver’s seat of a train, or an unhurried and voiceover-free look at someone blowing glass, these shows succeeded in finding a steady audience. This novella is like that, and it absolutely works. The story focuses on Rudy Green as he seeks to rebuild his life following the death of his wife and unborn child. Rudy purchases a rundown house isolated in its own winter wonderland and begins to clear it out. A large frozen pond dominates the immediate landscape, its thick ice a shifting swirling grey. A channel of near-black water runs from the lake to the ice house adjoining the residence. When a neighbour swings by suggesting Rudy harvest the ice, to restock the ice house and to restart an old tradition of building a house of ice with the excess, Rudy agrees. After the horror show of Safe At Home, earlier in the book, this is a much better offering from SRT. Very much worth your time.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

The Dog Park – Dennis Etchison (4/5 – This British Fantasy Award-winning short finds a writer called Manning visiting the local dog park on the off-chance he’ll find his lost pooch. The park itself is a thinly-veiled cover for the movers and shakers of the TV and movie industry to gather and network, a scene Manning is all too happy to quit. The local homeowners overlooking the park from their expensive designer pads are keen to close the whole thing down, and they’re certainly not the kind of people to worry about the occasional dog being snatched by the park’s wilder animals. This was a good story but I was surprised to learn it was an award winner.)



Also collected in Wilson’s “The Cleft and Other Odd Tales”

The Marble Boy – Gahan Wilson (5/5 – Two boys break into a graveyard for a ruddy good rummage about the place. They soon find a life-size marble statue of a boy encased in glass. They assume the statue is of a boy buried nearby, a boy in a grave whose stone lid appears to have split in two. Much to George’s horror Andy levers the halves of the stone lid apart and reaches inside the grave. Bad, bad move. This is an excellent horror short that delivers with every paragraph, building up the atmosphere and tension wonderfully before delivering a truly spine-chilling climax.)



Also collected in Ellison’s “Slippage”

Mephisto In Onyx – Harlan Ellison (5/5 – As with the previous book, Best New Horror 5 closes with a barnstorming award-winning novella from a seasoned pro who really knew what he was doing. Rudy Pairis is a mindreader who is asked by Ally, a long-time friend, to help her acquit a convicted mass-murderer, Henry Lake Spanning. Ally confesses she is in love with Spanning, which Rudy finds utterly bizarre given how Ally was the prosecuting attorney who built the case against him in the first place. With only days to go before Spanning’s execution, Rudy very reluctantly agrees to visit him, and so a deadly game commences. Ellison’s writing positively crackles in this twisty-turny tale. Rudy is a great character armed with a number of laugh-out-loud opinions, descriptions and turns of phrase. (A security guard being “seven foot in any direction”, is a personal favourite.) It’s worth seeking out a copy of Best New Horror 5 for this story alone.)

And so we reach the end of another mega review of Best New Horror. Thanks for reading! If the stories take your fancy then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a second-hand copy of the book on the interwebs, failing that you should be able to find an eBook copy on all the major platforms.

All being well, I’ll see you soon with a run-through of book 6. TTFN!