Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1379

A slightly tougher one this week with a few more exotic solutions, but at least they’re actual words. There is another repeat, which I’ll grump about later, and there are a couple of niggly clues I’d take issue with. All in all, though, this is another good ‘un. Question is, what have we in store on Monday? An easy one or a real stinker?

Anyway, blathering aside, you’ll find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. Just a bit of housekeeping before we begin. If you’d like solutions to recent other Times Jumbo Cryptics, hop over to my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction is your thing, then my Reviews page might pique your interest. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 5 up once I’ve published Monday’s solution. (Assuming I get that far, obviously.)

Right, here you go. I hope this helps! I’m off to watch Match of the Day.

LP

Across clues

1. Small growths extremely likely to fill small cracks (6)

Answer: POLYPS (i.e. “small growths”). Solution is LY (i.e. “extremely likely”, i.e. the first and last letters of “extremely”) “to fill” POPS (i.e. “small cracks”), like so: PO(LY)PS.

4. Experiences fellow feeling, with English politician at his tablets (10)

Answer: EMPATHISES (i.e. “experiences fellow feeling”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by MP (i.e. “politician”, specifically a Member of Parliament) then AT HIS and finally ES (i.e. “tablets”, specifically ecstasy tablets), like so: E-MP-AT-HIS-ES.

10. Representing noble of the French state (5)

Answer: DUCAL, which is representative of a duke (i.e. “representing noble”). Solution is DU (i.e. “of the French” – the French for “of the” is “du”) and CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California).

14. Criminal female comes in handy with debtor’s notes (9)

Answer: NEFARIOUS (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is NEAR (i.e. “handy”) with F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) “coming in” and then followed by IOUS (i.e. “debtor’s notes”), like so: NE(F)AR-IOUS.

15. Suspect streak in hugely rich sport on wheels (6-7)

Answer: ROLLER-SKATING (i.e. “sport on wheels”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “suspect”) of STREAK placed “in” ROLLING (i.e. “hugely rich”), like so: ROLL(ERSKAT)ING.

16. Ace is away boxing, causing worry (7)

Answer: AGONISE (i.e. “worry”). Solution is A (i.e. an “ace” in cards) followed by GONE (i.e. “away”) which is “boxing” IS, like so: A-GON(IS)E.

17. Mentioned poet providing woman’s undergarment (7)

Answer: SPENCER (i.e. “woman’s undergarment” – not one that rings a bell. I’d do a Google Image search but… no). Solution is also a homophone (indicated by “mentioned”) of sixteenth century “poet” Edmund Spenser, who is responsible for all manner of screwy alternative spellings that litter modern-day dictionaries. To be fair, setters have largely resisted using these in their grids.

18. Umpteenth rally more than enough to reveal rivet (7)

Answer: ENTHRAL (i.e. “[to] rivet”). “More than enough to reveal” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: UMPTE(ENTH RAL)LY.

19. Swimmers should avoid this Iberian armed ship (10,3-2-3)

Answer: PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR. Solution satisfies “swimmers should avoid this” – a proper nasty-looking jellyfish – and “Iberian armed ship” – Iberia describing Spain and Portugal and man-of-war describing a warship. I think the solution to this one sprang to mind from an episode of QI I’d watched some years ago. It’s weird what I remember sometimes.

21. Originally the supreme autocrat, leader of Russia (4)

Answer: TSAR (i.e. “leader of Russia”). Solution is TSA (i.e. “originally the supreme autocrat”, i.e. the first letters of “The”, “Supreme” and “Autocrat”) and R (i.e. “leader of Russia”, i.e. the first letter of “Russia”). A nifty bit of recursion there.

24. Acclaim legend about fencing clubs (5)

Answer: ECLAT (i.e. applause or “acclaim”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games) being “fenced” by TALE (i.e. “legend”) which is reversed (indicated by “about”), like so: E(C)LAT. (Sighs.) We’re barely a third of the way into the year and this is already the third time this solution has appeared, popping up in puzzles 1359 and 1374. Evidently this a go-to word for several setters. Or, more likely, this is the result of the grid-constructing software they’re using.

26. Starving old American pursues crow (8)

Answer: RAVENOUS (i.e. “starving”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and US (i.e. “American”) following or “pursuing” RAVEN (i.e. “crow”), like so: RAVEN-O-US.

27. Shuffles fish during drinks (5-3)

Answer: SHAKE-UPS (i.e. “shuffles”). Solution is HAKE (i.e. “fish”) placed “during” SUPS (i.e. “drinks”), like so: S(HAKE)UPS.

29. Graduate, lout and English guy cross fine sea area (3,2,6)

Answer: BAY OF BENGAL (i.e. “sea area”). Solution is BA (i.e. “graduate”, specifically a Bachelor of Arts) followed by YOB (i.e. “lout”), ENG (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and AL (i.e. “guy”, as in a man’s name) wrapped around or “crossing” F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”), like so: BA-YO(F)B-ENG-AL.

30. The most timid avoid eastern unit in national park (11)

Answer: YELLOWSTONE (i.e. a “national park” situated (mostly) in Wyoming, USA). Solution is YELLOWEST (i.e. “the most timid”) with the second E removed (indicated by “avoid eastern” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”) and followed by ONE (i.e. “unit”), like so: YELLOWST-ONE.

32. Rodney plugs terrible sweetener (6,5)

Answer: GOLDEN SYRUP (i.e. “sweetener”). “Terrible” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RODNEY PLUGS.

35. Old warship had go and turned unexpectedly (11)

Answer: DREADNOUGHT (i.e. “old warship”). “Unexpectedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HAD GO and TURNED.

37. Tea during the present time? That’s definitely out (2,6)

Answer: NO CHANCE (i.e. “that’s definitely out”). Solution is CHA (i.e. “tea”) placed “during” NONCE (i.e. “the present time”), like so: NO(CHA)NCE.

39. Where film would be kept secretly (2,6)

Answer: IN CAMERA. Solution satisfies “where film would be kept” and “secretly”.

40. Time when Powell has gained power, replacing Nationalist (5)

Answer: EPOCH (i.e. “time”). Solution is ENOCH “Powell” with the N (a recognised abbreviation of “Nationalist”) “replaced” by P (ditto “power”). A rather well-worked clue.

43. Pupils no longer returning after a punishment (4)

Answer: ASBO, an acronym for Anti-Social Behaviour Order (i.e. “punishment”). Solution is OBS (i.e. “pupils no longer”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “Old Boy” which is then made plural) and A placed “after”, then the whole lot reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: A-SBO.

44. Spare no effort to play the pipes at full volume (4,3,3,3,5)

Answer: PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS. Solution satisfies “spare no effort” and “to play the [organ] pipes at full volume”.

47. Pretend deal includes song (7)

Answer: PLAYACT (i.e. “pretend”). Solution is PACT (i.e. “deal”) “including” LAY (i.e. “song” – one of the word’s many meanings), like so: P(LAY)ACT.

48. New displays in gallery the lady’s backing with dread almost (7)

Answer: REHANGS (i.e. “new displays in gallery” – a bit of a weak ‘un for me, unless I’m missing some gallery lingo somewhere). Solution is HER (i.e. “the lady”) reversed (indicated by “backing”) and followed by ANGS (i.e. “dread almost” – i.e. the word “angst” with the last letter removed), like so: REH-ANGS.

50. Ring about gunmen casing home, blow it! (7)

Answer: OCARINA (i.e. “blow it”, as in a musical instrument). Solution is O (i.e. “ring”) then CA (i.e. “about”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) then RA (i.e. “gunmen”, specifically the Royal Artillery) “casing” IN (i.e. “[at] home”), like so: O-CA-R(IN)A. What’s that you say? Did I get this from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?
(Looks to camera.)

51. Priest in church has men close to pulpit for Albert, say (6,7)

Answer: PRINCE CONSORT (i.e. “Albert, say”). Solution is PR (a recognised abbreviation of “priest”) followed by IN, then CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), then CONS (i.e. “has [somebody]”), then OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) and finally T (i.e. “close to pulpit”, i.e. the last letter of “pulpit”), like so: PR-IN-CE-CONS-OR-T. Phew!

52. Main man eats one like some Glasgow chocolate bars? (4-5)

Answer: DEEP-FRIED (i.e. “like some Glasgow chocolate bars”). Solution is DEEP (i.e. “main”, both words for the sea) followed by FRED (i.e. “man”) “eating” I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: DEEP-FR(I)ED.

53. Poles brought in money for viola (5)

Answer: PANSY (i.e. “viola”, as in the flower rather than the musical instrument). Solution is PAY (i.e. “money”) with NS (i.e. “poles”, i.e. recognised abbreviations of north and south) “brought in”, like so: PA(NS)Y.

54. Busy Italians accepting revolutionary firm’s withdrawn (10)

Answer: ANTISOCIAL (i.e. “withdrawn”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “busy”) of ITALIANS “accepting” CO (i.e. “firm”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “company”) which is reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”), like so: ANTIS(OC)IAL.

55. Plucky one locked in iron enclosure (6)

Answer: FEISTY (i.e. “plucky”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) placed between or “locked in” FE (i.e. chemical symbol for “iron”) and STY (i.e. “enclosure”), like so: FE-(I)-STY.

Down clues

1. Long drink filled with very soft fruit (9)

Answer: PINEAPPLE (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is PINE (i.e. “[to] long”) followed by ALE (i.e. “drink”) filled with PP (i.e. “very soft”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of pianissimo), like so: PINE-A(PP)LE.

2. Firefly Leo and I manoeuvred, making excellent time (4,2,5)

Answer: LIFE OF RILEY (i.e. “excellent time”). “Manoeuvred” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FIREFLY LEO and I.

3. Border stitch that is used at the front (7)

Answer: PURLIEU. My Chambers has this everyday word as “in plural, borders or outskirts”, so this clue feels a little cheaty.  Why “border” and not “borders”? Anyway, the solution is PURL (i.e. “stitch”) followed by IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. … well, i.e.) and U (i.e. “used at the front”, i.e. the first letter of “used”).

5. Lawmaker takes a stroll, avoiding Yankee (5)

Answer: MOSES (i.e. “lawmaker” – I’ll let the internet argue that one among themselves). Solution is MOSEYS (i.e. “takes a stroll”) with the Y removed (indicated by “avoiding Yankee”, being Y in the phonetic alphabet).

6. Two kinds of screen for part of Heathrow (3,8)

Answer: AIR TERMINAL. Solution satisfies “two kinds of screen” – as in two meanings of the word “screen” (AIR as in to screen or broadcast something; TERMINAL as in a computer screen – another cheat for me as a terminal represents the computer not the screen… anyway, world keeps spinning) – and “part of Heathrow”.

7. Batter felt raunchy, making good score (4-7)

Answer: HALF-CENTURY (i.e. a “good score” in cricket or one’s age). “Batter” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FELT RAUNCHY.

8. Vow to give up fade after last of hooks (5,3)

Answer: SWEAR OFF (i.e. “vow to give up”). Solution is WEAR OFF (i.e. “fade”) placed “after” S (i.e. “last of hooks”, i.e. the last letter of “hooks”), like so: S-WEAROFF.

9. Englishman and SAS chase criminal around north (9)

Answer: SASSENACH (an often derogatory term for an “Englishman” all the way up there in Scotland.) Solution is SAS followed by an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of CHASE which is placed around N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”), like so: SAS-SE(N)ACH.

10. Note conductor’s deficiency (6)

Answer: DEARTH (i.e. “deficiency”). Solution is D (i.e. “[musical] note”) followed by EARTH (i.e. “conductor”).

11. Like artwork in Fifty Shades of Grey? (11)

Answer: CHIAROSCURO, which is a black-and-white painting, hence the clue. If I’m honest I got this from the publisher of ChiZine magazine, but I was rather pleased to find it also fitted the clue. Anyway, if you’d like to see a really good example of chiaroscuro at work, check out Rudolph Stingel’s Untitled (After Sam) on Google Images. I was damn-near hypnotised by this painting (yes, it’s a painting) when I visited the Whitney Museum of American Art a few years ago. Absolutely stunning. Anyway, I digress.

12. It’s acceptable for one article to appear between lines (5)

Answer: LEGAL (i.e. “it’s acceptable”). Solution is EG (i.e. “for one” – read as “for example”) and A (i.e. “article”) “appearing between” L and L (recognised abbreviation of “line” pluralised), like so: L-(EG-A)-L.

13. On radio, what makes one stud’s leading part? (12)

Answer: FOREQUARTERS, which is the front portion of a side of meat (i.e. “leading part”). “On radio” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of “four quarters”, which I’m taking to mean “a limb with adjacent parts of the trunk, especially of the dismembered body of an executed person, or of an animal carcass”. Collectively they’d make “one stud”, I guess. Except for the head. Whatever. I’m seldom a fan of these wishy-washy clues, if I’m honest.

20. It recalled silver in highly uncivilised state (8)

Answer: SAVAGERY (i.e. “uncivilised state”). Solution is AS (i.e. “it”, though I can’t immediately think of a good example of using one instead of the other) reversed (indicated by “recalled”) and followed by AG (chemical symbol of “silver”) placed “in” VERY (i.e. “highly”), like so: SA-V(AG)ERY.

22. Admire scripture cult absorbing pressure (7)

Answer: RESPECT (i.e. “admire”). Solution is RE (i.e. “scripture”, i.e. Religious Education) followed by SECT (i.e. “cult”) which has “absorbed” P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”), like so: RE-S(P)ECT.

23. Second opener for Kent is to run sports venue (3,5)

Answer: SKI SLOPE (i.e. “sports venue”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) followed by K (i.e. “opener for Kent”, i.e. the first letter of “Kent”) then IS then LOPE (i.e. “to run”).

25. Cloths in which to wrap up oily cheeses? (8)

Answer: TAFFETAS (i.e. “cloths”). Solution is FAT (i.e. “oily”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by FETAS (i.e. “cheeses”), like so: TAF-FETAS.

28. Obscene call for former dancing girl (8)

Answer: BLUEBELL (i.e. “former dancing girl” – a quick Google revealed that the Bluebell Girls were a dance troupe during the mid-twentieth century). Solution is BLUE (i.e. “obscene”) followed by BELL (i.e. “[to] call”).

29. Almost clear off one initially aggressive plant (7)

Answer: BEGONIA (i.e. “plant”). Solution is BEGONE (i.e. “clear off”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and A (i.e. “initially aggressive”, i.e. the first letter of “aggressive”), like so: BEGON-I-A.

31. Authority in east London built square (3-9)

Answer: OLD-FASHIONED (i.e. “square”). Solution is OLD (i.e. “authority in east London”, i.e. the word HOLD with the H dropped) followed by FASHIONED (i.e. “built”). This took me way longer to solve than it ought to have done. Well played, setter.

33. Late study of lutetium, copper and boron quota (11)

Answer: LUCUBRATION (i.e. “late study”, i.e. what most students do the night before their exam). Solution is LU (chemical symbol of “lutetium”), CU (ditto “copper”) and B (ditto again “boron”) followed by RATION (i.e. “quota”). Nice word. I like it.

34. Leg reduces impact of aids for sewers (11)

Answer: PINCUSHIONS (i.e. “aids for sewers”). Solution is PIN (i.e. an informal term for “leg”) followed by CUSHIONS (i.e. “reduces impact of”).

35. Confusing enigmatic ad showing oddly attractive quality (11)

Answer: DIAMAGNETIC (i.e. “showing oddly attractive quality”). “Confusing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ENIGMATIC AD.

36. Global subject, say, upset old, old drunk cutting images (11)

Answer: GEOPOLITICS (i.e. “global subject”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”). It’s then followed by O (ditto) and LIT (i.e. “drunk”, or, as Wodehouse would have it, pickled to the gills) placed in PICS (i.e. “images”), like so: GE-O-P(O-LIT)ICS. Convoluted? Yes. Yes it is.

38. Marine arthropods covering hole in one area (9)

Answer: CRUSTACEA (i.e. “marine arthropods”). Solution is CRUST (i.e. “covering”) followed by ACE (i.e. “hole in one”) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”).

41. Farming hours now and then on group lines (9)

Answer: HUSBANDRY (i.e. “farming”). Solution is HUS (i.e. “hours now and then”, i.e. every other letter of the word HOURS) followed by BAND (i.e. “group”) and RY (i.e. “lines”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”).

42. Wine inspires latest member of orchestra (8)

Answer: CLARINET (i.e. “member of orchestra”). Solution is CLARET (i.e. “wine”) including or “inspiring” IN (i.e. the “latest”), like so: CLAR(IN)ET.

45. Pinch a bit (7)

Answer: SNAFFLE. Solution satisfies “pinch” – as in to steal – and “a bit” as in a piece of riding gear. I didn’t know that.

46. Religious publication cautious about credit (3,3)

Answer: WAR CRY (i.e. “religious publication” of The Salvation Army). Solution is WARY (i.e. “cautious”) placed “about” CR (a recognised abbreviation of “credit”), like so: WAR(CR)Y.

47. Children’s drink more costly, like some of their books? (3-2)

Answer: POP-UP. Solution satisfies “children’s drink more costly” and “like some [childrens] books”.

49. Hindu workers, 500 in part of Koran (5)

Answer: SUDRA, a member of the fourth and lowest of the great Hindu castes (i.e. “Hindu workers”). Solution is D (Roman numeral “500”) placed “in” SURA (i.e. a chapter or “part of Koran”). Cor, this was a right old trawl through my Chambers!

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1378

A good puzzle this week with a few really well-worked clues and only a handful of exotic solutions. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope they help.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin. If you’d like solutions for previous puzzles then jump over to my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction is your thing then I have a few Reviews that might take your fancy. I should have a review of Best New Horror 5 coming soon, you lucky people.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Here you go.

LP

Across clues

1. Being a good husband to Verity? Or less than faithful? (10,4,3,5)

Answer: ECONOMICAL WITH THE TRUTH. Solution satisfies “being a good husband to Verity” – husbandry can mean economical management, while verity is another word for truth – and “less than faithful”. A rather well worked clue.

13. Something to chew on: setter’s getting stick! (6)

Answer: CUDGEL (i.e. “stick”). Solution is CUD (i.e. “something to chew on”) followed by GEL (i.e. “setter”, as in something that sets).

14. Grass skirts so long? That’s not ringing a bell! (3-1-3)

Answer: RAT-A-TAT. Solution is RAT (i.e. “grass”, as in to rat on someone) “skirting” TA-TA (i.e. “so long”), like so: RA(TATA)T. Within the context of the clue, a “rat-a-tat” would suggest someone has used a door knocker rather than ringing a doorbell.

15. Sink to fill? Revealing plunger perhaps! (8)

Answer: NECKLINE (i.e. “revealing plunger perhaps”, as in garments with a plunging neckline). Solution is NECK (i.e. “[to] sink [a drink]”) followed by LINE (i.e. “to fill”).

16. Variety of cheese they sell excluding one European country (3,10)

Answer: THE SEYCHELLES (i.e. “country”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “variety”) of CHEESE THEY SELL once one of the Es as been removed (indicated by “excluding one European”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”).

18. Having pins and needles of metal, hideous but lead free (6)

Answer: TINGLY (i.e. “having pins and needles”). Solution is TIN (i.e. “metal”) followed by UGLY (i.e. “hideous”) with its first letter removed (i.e. “but lead free” – a nice bit of misdirection), like so: TIN-GLY.

20. Ghastly rotter claims to have pinched half of ours (10)

Answer: CADAVEROUS (i.e. “ghastly”). Solution is CAD (i.e. “rotter”) followed by AVERS (i.e. “claims”) which has “pinched” OU (i.e. “[the first] half of ours”), like so: CAD-AVER(OU)S.

21. Song a small bird relies on (2,4,4,2)

Answer: AS TIME GOES BY (i.e. “song”). Solution is A then S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by TIME (i.e. “bird” – both alternative words for a prison sentence) and GOES BY (i.e. “relies on”).

24. Press home point first (6)

Answer: INSIST (i.e. “press”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”), then S (a recognised abbreviation of “south” – i.e. a “point” on a compass), then IST (i.e. “first”).

26. Succumbing idly, eg in exercises (8)

Answer: YIELDING (i.e. “succumbing”). “Exercises” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IDLY EG IN.

28. Brilliance of one with strong desire to be heard (6)

Answer: LUSTRE (i.e. “brilliance”). “To be heard” indicates the solution is a homophone of LUSTER (i.e. “one with strong desire”).

30. Event in which twin mounts challenge? (3-5,4)

Answer: TWO-HORSE RACE. “Mounts” in this context meaning horses rather than mountains.

31. Minor US oil works producing fuel (10)

Answer: ORIMULSION, which, it says here, is an emulsion of bitumen, water and detergents used as a “fuel”. A new one on me. “Works” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MINOR US OIL.

33. Poison sample found in school square (10)

Answer: STRYCHNINE (i.e. “poison”). Solution is TRY (i.e. “[to] sample”) placed “in” SCH (a recognised abbreviation of “school”) and followed by NINE (i.e. “square”, specifically 3×3), like so: S(TRY)CH-NINE. Another well-worked clue.

34. Novel keeping (at first) prose writer father in a job (6-6)

Answer: WORKER-PRIEST (i.e. “father in a job”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of K (i.e. “keeping (at first)”) and PROSE WRITER.

35. Brings boat in from Islay, Stornoway (4,2)

Answer: LAYS TO (i.e. “brings boat in”). “From” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: IS(LAY STO)RNOWAY.

37. Spy’s outside tracking account in French, very theatrical (8)

Answer: ACTRESSY (i.e. “theatrical”). Solution is SY (i.e. “spy’s outside”, i.e. the first and last letters of “spy”) following or “tracking” AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”) and TRES (i.e. “in French, very”, the French for “very” being “tres”), like so: AC-TRES-SY.

38. Always following band parade (6)

Answer: SASHAY (i.e. “[to] parade”). Solution is AY (i.e. “always”, taken here to mean “yes” or “aye” or its alternative form “ay”) “following” SASH (i.e. “band” – think beauty contests), like so: SASH-AY.

40. Back doctor to provide supporting role (6,6)

Answer: SECOND FIDDLE (i.e. “supporting role”). Solution is SECOND (i.e. “[to] back [someone]”) followed by FIDDLE (i.e. “[to] doctor [something]”).

41. Dramatist maybe misses meeting with dignitary (10)

Answer: John GALSWORTHY, who wrote, among other things, The Forsyte Saga (ask your grandparents, kids). Anyway, “dramatist”. Solution is GALS (i.e. “maybe misses” – misses as in unmarried women) followed by WORTHY (i.e. “dignitary”).

43. Hungarian woman’s hat size not oddly recalled more than once (3,3)

Answer: ZSA ZSA Gabor (i.e. “Hungarian woman”). “Not oddly” indicates the solution is hidden in the even letters of HAT SIZE once they have been reversed (indicated by “recalled”). “More than once” then indicates ZSA is repeated. I can’t help but think the setter rather painted themselves into a corner here.

45. Henry buys into risk, after altering his past assessment (7,2,4)

Answer: HISTORY IS BUNK, a quote attributed to Henry Ford (i.e. “Henry…his past assessment”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “altering”) of H (for “Henry”) and BUYS INTO RISK. Taking into account the context of the quote, this is an excellent clue – probably the best since I started posting these solutions.

48. Skin condition initially affecting within month those with spotty faces (8)

Answer: JAUNDICE (i.e. “skin condition”). Solution is A (i.e. “initially affecting”, i.e. the first letter of “affecting”) placed “within” JUN (i.e. “month”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of June) and followed by DICE (i.e. “those with spotty faces”), like so: J(A)UN-DICE. Another good ‘un.

49. A hanky pictured when you hear this? (7)

Answer: ATISHOO. Solution riffs on how this sounds like A TISSUE (i.e. “a hanky”).

51. Saw investigators turning away from corporation (6)

Answer: DICTUM (i.e. “saw”, which can mean a motto or a saying). Solution is CID (i.e. “investigators”, specifically the Criminal Investigation Department of the police force) reversed (indicated by “turning away”) and followed by TUM (i.e. “corporation” – an alternative meaning of the word is the belly), like so: DIC-TUM.

52. Relish holding the k-keys? (8,6,8)

Answer: THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING (i.e. “relish”). Solution riffs on how K is often used to represent a thousand, and how “keys” can be a group of islands.

Down clues

2. Vintage Times brain teaser! (4)

Answer: CRUX (i.e. “brain teaser”). Solution is CRU (i.e. “vintage”) followed by X (i.e. “times”, as in the multiplication symbol).

3. Ailing rhythm’s turning out like a bad dream (13)

Answer: NIGHTMARISHLY (i.e. “like a bad dream”). “Turning out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AILING RHYTHMS.

4. Chap has taken notes in foreign language (7)

Answer: MALTESE (i.e. “foreign language”). Solution is MALE (i.e. “chap”) having “taken” TES (i.e. “notes” as in the doh-ray-me scale – can be spelled TE or TI), like so: MAL(TES)E.

5. Tail short for a dog (3)

Answer: CUR (i.e. “a dog”). Solution is CURT (i.e. “short”) which has been “tailed” (i.e. the last letter removed – to tail something can mean to remove the tail from it).

6. Milky fluids after hours mostly taken with cold dishes (7)

Answer: LATICES, which is the plural form of “latex” (i.e. “milky fluid”). Solution is LATE (i.e. “after hours”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and followed by ICES (i.e. “cold dishes”), like so: LAT-ICES.

7. One collection of books fellow’s muddled up (2,3,6)

Answer: IN THE SADDLE (i.e. “up”, as in someone who is a focus of interest, e.g. “who’s up next?”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) followed by NT (i.e. “collection of books”, specifically the New Testament of The Bible), then HE’S (i.e. “fellow’s” – think of it more as “the fellow is” rather than the possessive form) and ADDLE (i.e. “muddled” – the past tense appears to be misleading here). Not a classic.

8. Place to stay in Arnhem after November? (5)

Answer: HOTEL (i.e. “place to stay”). Solution riffs on how, in “Arnhem”, the letter H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) is “after” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet). Another well-worked clue.

9. To give a few is generous (8)

Answer: HANDSOME (i.e. “generous”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “to give”) followed by SOME (i.e. “a few”).

10. Implied some lacking in sophistication turned up (5)

Answer: TACIT (i.e. “implied”). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “turned up” suggests the solution has been reversed, this being a down clue, like so: SOPHIS(TICAT)ION.

11. Swede’s chasing university place – they’re living the high life! (9)

Answer: UPLANDERS (i.e. “they’re living the high life”). Solution is ANDERS (i.e. “Swede”) placed after or “chasing” U and PL (recognised abbreviations of “university” and “place” respectively), like so: U-PL-ANDERS.

12. Impressive hair grip for someone who’s 7? (9,9)

Answer: HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE. Solution riffs on how someone in the saddle (referenced by “7 [down]”) of a bike would “grip” a handlebar, and how handlebar moustaches are indeed “impressive hair”.

17. Before collecting pants, son wearing synthetic material (5,5)

Answer: EPOXY RESIN (i.e. “synthetic material”). Solution is ERE (i.e. a poetic form of “before”) “collecting” POXY (i.e. “pants”, as in rubbish), then followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) and IN (i.e. “wearing”), like so: E(POXY)RE-S-IN.

19. The latest, if far from the best, careers? (3,4,7,4)

Answer: BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST. Another riffy clue, this. “The latest” can mean NEWS; “if far from the best” suggests it’s BAD NEWS, while “careers” can mean TRAVELS FAST. Stitch them all together and voila. I’m not often keen on these wishy-washy kind of clues, if I’m honest.

22. Indian restaurants opening for function one’s to hold (9)

Answer: TANDOORIS (i.e. “Indian restaurants”). Solution is DOOR (i.e. “opening”) placed in TAN (i.e. “function”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “tangent”, one of the six trigonometrical functions) and I’S (Roman numeral “one” made possessive), like so: TAN-(DOOR)-IS.

23. Liberal MP laughs wildly, strides exultantly (9)

Answer: GALLUMPHS (i.e. “strides exultantly”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “wildly”) of L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”) and MP LAUGHS.

25. Pair keeping gold chain round middle of cedar tree (9)

Answer: TORCHWOOD, a variety of “trees” whose wood make rather good torches. Solution is TWO (i.e. “pair”) “keeping” OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) and CH (a recognised abbreviation of “chain” (a linear measure of 100 feet it says here), then followed by O (i.e. “round”) and D (i.e. “middle of cedar”, i.e. the middle letter of “cedar”), like so: T(OR-CH)WO-O-D. I guess an anagram of Doctor Who would have been too obvious.

27. Welshman, key journalist, gradually faded (9)

Answer: EVANESCED (i.e. “gradually faded”). Solution is EVAN (i.e. “Welshman”) followed by ESC (i.e. “key”, specifically the Escape key situated top-left of a keyboard) and ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “editor”).

29. Lycée flics stormed: lots of changes resulting (4,6)

Answer: LIFE CYCLES (i.e. “lots of changes”). “Stormed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LYCEE FLICS.

32. The excitement you get from cutting out certain actions in swimming? (8,5)

Answer: SCISSORS KICKS. Solution satisfies “the excitement [i.e. kicks] you get from cutting” and “certain actions in swimming”.

34. Kind Cockney home raised money for Iranian monument (3,8)

Answer: WAR MEMORIAL (i.e. “monument”). Solution is WARM (i.e. “kind”) followed by OME (i.e. “Cockney home”, i.e. the word “home” after the H has been dropped) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) and followed by RIAL (i.e. “money for Iranian”), like so: WARM-EMO-RIAL.

36. Irish party men end letter with word of appeal, suddenly emphatic (9)

Answer: SFORZANDO (i.e. “suddenly emphatic” – I had a funny feeling this was going to be a musical term – chalk one to my Chambers Thesaurus for bagging me this one). Solution is SF (i.e. “Irish party”, specifically Sinn Fein) followed by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) then Z (i.e. “end letter”) then AND (i.e. “with”) then O (i.e. “word of appeal”, e.g. in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), like so: SF-OR-Z-AND-O. Bloody hell.

39. Aussie football team te-heeing rudely (8)

Answer: EIGHTEEN (i.e. “Aussie football team”). “Rudely” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TE-HEEING.

41. Monster crackling finally on line: call terminated early (7)

Answer: GRYPHON (i.e. “monster”). Solution is G (i.e. “crackling finally”, i.e. the last letter of “crackling”) followed by RY (i.e. “line”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”) and PHONE with it’s final letter removed (i.e. “call terminated early”), like so: G-RY-PHON.

42. Aspiring to listen to small forest insect? (5-2)

Answer: WOULD-BE (i.e. “aspiring to”). “To listen” indicates the solution is a homophone of WOOD BEE (i.e. “small forest insect”).

44. Nice friends the last to reappear inappropriately (5)

Answer: AMISS (i.e. “inappropriately”). Solution is AMIS (i.e. “Nice friends” – Nice as in the French city – the French for “friends” is “amis”). “The last to reappear” indicates the last letter of AMIS is repeated.

46. Was crawling, maybe, in front of one’s teacher (5)

Answer: SWAMI (i.e. “[Hindu] teacher”). Solution is SWAM (i.e. “was crawling, maybe”, as in the swimming stroke) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”).

47. Child of five seen in case of strabismus (4)

Answer: QUIN (i.e. “child of five”). A strabismus is a fancy name for a squint, which, as you can see, contains the solution: S(QUIN)T.

50. Gorge above delta, a long way from common (3)

Answer: ODD (i.e. “a long way from common”). Solution is OD (i.e. “gorge”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “overdose”) followed by D (“delta” in the phonetic alphabet).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1377

As suspected, today’s puzzle was a bit of a stinker, but we’ve certainly had worse. Some of the wordplay was a little exhausting to solve but at least the grid wasn’t plugged with umpteen dead people, plants and musical terms. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin: if you’d like solutions for previous Times Jumbo Cryptics, jump over to my Just For Fun page. If you have a soft spot for horror fiction, my Reviews page might have something of interest.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Enjoy! I’m off to watch Game of Thrones.

LP

Across clues

1. Large rat goes around, one providing diversion (9)

Answer: DEFLECTOR (i.e. “one providing diversion”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) with DEFECTOR (i.e. “rat”) “going around”, like so: DEF(L)ECTOR.

6. Publisher rebuffed piece of writing that’s rot (13)

Answer: DECOMPOSITION (i.e. “rot”). Solution is ED (i.e. “publisher”, specifically an abbreviation of “editor” – a bit of a stretch in my less-than-humble opinion, but we’ll let it slide) reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”) and followed by COMPOSITION (i.e. “piece of writing”), like so: DE-COMPOSITION.

13. As some say, Dorothy or Charlie’s coat (5)

Answer: PARKA (i.e. “coat”). “As some say” indicates the solution is a homophone of “Parker”, surname of Dorothy (the poet) and Charlie (the jazz saxophonist – fans of John Connolly may suggest otherwise).

14. One’s repeated no fun getting drunk – as these are (9)

Answer: INFUSIONS (i.e. “drunk – as these are”). “Getting drunk” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I’S and I’S (i.e. “one’s repeated”, as in the Roman numeral – ignoring the misleading apostrophe) and NO FUN.

15. Retired flier delaying one achievement (7)

Answer: EXPLOIT (i.e. a deed or “achievement”). Solution is EX-PILOT (i.e. “retired flier”) with the I knocked back a couple of notches (indicated by “delaying one”, as in the Roman numeral).

16. Rascal adapts ancient game without hesitation in book (6,6,7,3)

Answer: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (i.e. a “book” by John Le Carré). Solution is TINKER (i.e. “rascal”) then TAILORS (i.e. “adapts”) followed by OLD (i.e. “ancient”) and I SPY (i.e. “game”) placed around or “without” ER (i.e. “hesitation”), like so: TINKER-TAILORS-OLD-I-(ER)-SPY. A rather well-worked clue.

18. Cricket side with test location for players (2-6)

Answer: ON-SCREEN (i.e. “location for players”). Solution is ON (i.e. “cricket side”, sometimes referred to as leg side) followed by SCREEN (i.e. “test” – as in how certain things are screened for suitability on things like phone-ins).

20. Worry about old figure producing plant hydrocarbon (8)

Answer: CAROTENE (i.e. “plant hydrocarbon”). Solution is CARE (i.e. “worry”) placed “about” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and TEN (i.e. “figure”), like so: CAR(O-TEN)E. One I had to look up, as I couldn’t get past seeing “gasoline” given the letters _A_O_E_E.

21. Deliberately hands round a board game (5)

Answer: LARGO, a musical term meaning broad and slow (i.e. “deliberately”). Solution is L and R (i.e. “hands”, as in recognised abbreviations of “left” and “right”) placed “round” A and then followed by GO (i.e. “a board game”), like so: L(A)R-GO.

23. Seat in empty gallery likely to snap? (6)

Answer: GRUMPY (i.e. “likely to snap”). Solution is RUMP (i.e. “seat”) placed in G and Y (i.e. “empty gallery”, i.e. the word “gallery” with all its middle letters removed), like so: G(RUMP)Y.

24. One’s charged for not retreating (6)

Answer: PROTON (i.e. “one’s charged”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “for”) followed by NOT reversed (indicated by “retreating”), like so: PRO-TON.

25. Dog circles stallion dropping head in fatigue (9)

Answer: LASSITUDE (i.e. “fatigue”). Solution is LASSIE (i.e. “dog”) “circling” STUD (i.e. “horse”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “dropping head”), like so: LASSI(TUD)E.

28. What distracts ruddy husband, misbehaving (3,7)

Answer: RED HERRING (i.e. “what distracts”). Solution is RED (i.e. “ruddy”) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and ERRING (i.e. “misbehaving”).

29. Nation’s first person sought office (4)

Answer: IRAN (i.e. “nation”). Solution is I (i.e. “first person”, as in I am (first person); you are (second person); they are (third person)) followed by RAN (i.e. “sought office”).

30. Scrap books with divine pieces inside (7)

Answer: ODDMENT (i.e. “scrap”). Solution is OT (i.e. “books”, specifically the Old Testament) with DD (i.e. “divine”, DD is short for “Deo dedit”, which is Latin for “gave to God” – chalk one for my Chambers) and MEN (i.e. “[chess] pieces”) placed “inside”, like so: O(DD-MEN)T.

32. Conservative admitted to fondness for defeat (7)

Answer: LICKING (i.e. “defeat”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) “admitted to” LIKING (i.e. “fondness”), like so: LI(C)KING.

34. In the auditorium, didn’t catch film (4)

Answer: MIST (i.e. “film”). “In the auditorium” indicates the solution is a homophone of MISSED, i.e. “didn’t catch”.

35. Litter in saloon for American President (5,5)

Answer: SEDAN CHAIR (i.e. “litter”, as in a seat held up on horizontal poles). Solution is SEDAN (i.e. “saloon [car]”) followed by CHAIR (i.e. “American President”, the position rather than anyone in particular).

38. Two strikes, one pushing back litres in kitchen vessel (5,4)

Answer: PUNCH BOWL (i.e. “kitchen vessel”). Solution is PUNCH and BLOW (i.e. “two strikes”), the latter having L (a recognised abbreviation of “litres”) “pushed back” a few notches. Though the clue doesn’t scan particularly well, I liked the word play behind it.

39. Extract from Biblical figure quoted (6)

Answer: ELICIT (i.e. “extract”). Solution is ELI (i.e. “Biblical figure”) followed by CIT (i.e. “quoted”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “citation”).

40. Bug spies used to trap villain (6)

Answer: CICADA (i.e. “bug”). Solution is CIA (i.e. “spies”) “trapping” CAD (i.e. “villain”), like so: CI(CAD)A.

43. Oscar, in trouble, beginning to imbibe the sauce (5)

Answer: AIOLI (i.e. “sauce” – a garlicky mayonnaise, and rather nice too). Solution is O (i.e. “Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “in” AIL (i.e. “trouble”) and followed by I (i.e. “beginning to imbibe”, i.e. the first letter of “imbibe”), like so: AI(O)L-I.

45. Understood piece of pottery is reserved (8)

Answer: TACITURN (i.e. “reserved”). Solution is TACIT (i.e. “understood”) followed by URN (i.e. “piece of pottery”).

47. Enduring wish to be given name (4-4)

Answer: LONG-TERM (i.e. “enduring”). Solution is LONG (i.e. “wish to be”) and TERM (i.e. “given name”).

49. Kind of speech by one still defending unusually realist aim, in theory (11,11)

Answer: DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM, which is “Karl Marx’s view of history as a conflict between two opposing forces, thesis and antithesis, which is resolved by the forming of a new force, synthesis”. Ain’t philosophy fun, kids? Setting aside how overly simplistic a view that might be for a moment and getting back to the clue: “theory”. Solution is DIALECT (i.e. “kind of speech”) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and CALM (i.e. “still”) wrapped around or “defending” an anagram (indicated by “unusually”) of REALIST AIM, like so: DIALECT-I-CAL(MATERIALIS)M.

52. Key expert’s hint about wrong answer completely rejected (7)

Answer: PIANIST (i.e. “key expert”). Solution is TIP (i.e. “hint”) placed “about” SIN (i.e. “wrong”) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”). The whole lot is then reversed (indicated by “rejected”), like so: PI(A-NIS)T.

53. Moving to Fair Isle, fixing sort of gate with even more reason (1,8)

Answer: A FORTIORI (Latin for “even more reason”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “moving”) of TO FAIR and I (a recognised abbreviation of “isle”) placed around OR (i.e. “sort of gate” used in electronics), like so: AFORTI(OR)I. I knew from the (1,8) that this was going to be a Latin phrase but, finding that “a posteriori” was too long, had to trawl through my Chambers until I found a similar phrase. Probably the toughest clue in the grid.

54. In Djibouti, putting away every second mug (5)

Answer: IDIOT (i.e. “mug”). “Putting away every second” indicates the solution is hidden in every other letter of IN DJIBOUTI. Another clue that doesn’t scan terribly well, but where I liked the wordplay.

55. Shyster, one who gives you a hand on horse (7,6)

Answer: WHEELER DEALER (i.e. “shyster”). Solution is WHEELER (i.e. “horse”, specifically one closest to the wheels of the vehicle its pulling; also known as a wheelhorse) and DEALER (i.e. “one who gives you a hand [of cards]”).

56. Drink with students, going over grim experience (9)

Answer: SUNDOWNER (i.e. “drink”, specifically one drunk around sundown. I need no such excuse.) Solution is NUS (i.e. “students”, specifically the National Union of Students) reversed (indicated by “going over”) and followed by DOWNER (i.e. “grim experience”), like so: SUN-DOWNER.

Down clues

1. Swim with hot swimwear in sound (9)

Answer: DIPHTHONG which, as repeated a few weeks ago in puzzle 1373, is a two-vowel “sound” pronounced as one syllable. Solution is DIP (i.e. “swim”) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) and THONG (i.e. “swimwear”).

2. Those who execute reverse if bike follows circles (6,5)

Answer: FIRING SQUAD (i.e. “those who execute”). Solution is IF “reversed”, then RINGS (i.e. “circles”) “followed” by QUAD (i.e. “bike”), like so: FI-RINGS-QUAD.

3. Bill wearing woman’s skirt (5)

Answer: EVADE (i.e. “[to] skirt”). Solution is AD (a recognised abbreviation of advertisement, i.e. “bill”) “wearing” EVE (i.e. “woman” – ignore the misleading possessive S), like so: EV(AD)E.

4. Frenzied rite thus engulfs ill-omened figure (8)

Answer: THIRTEEN (i.e. “ill-omened figure” – one I’m somewhat familiar with, ahem). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frenzied”) of RITE placed in THEN (i.e. “this”), like so: TH(IRTE)EN.

5. After service lift provided by a basket-maker? (6)

Answer: RAFFIA (i.e. “basket-maker”, as in the ribbon-like fibres obtained from the Raphia palm). Here’s one where the setter loses me, so watch out. RAF might be “service”, as in the Royal Air Force, but the rest leaves me stone cold. Next!

6. Being untrue is dashed silly today (10)

Answer: DISLOYALTY (i.e. “being untrue”). “Dashed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SILLY TODAY.

7. Something indicating Kiss title track is running (5-7)

Answer: CROSS-COUNTRY (i.e. “running”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “something indicating kiss” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) followed by COUNT (i.e. “title”) and RY (i.e. “track”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”).

8. White part of gazelle, somewhat towards the top (7)

Answer: MOSELLE, which is a German “white” wine. “Part of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “towards the top” indicates the solution is reversed, this being a down clue, like so: GAZ(ELLE SOM)EWHAT. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

9. Unsophisticated trash is in no lemonade (3-11)

Answer: ONE-DIMENSIONAL (i.e. “unsophisticated”). “Trash” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IS IN NO LEMONADE.

10. Like some rulers dismissing a risk (7)

Answer: IMPERIL (i.e. “risk”). Solution is IMPERIAL (i.e. “like some rulers”) with the A “dismissed”.

11. Counterpart right to block popular tune that’s mistimed (11)

Answer: INOPPORTUNE (i.e. “mistimed”). Solution is OPPO (i.e. “counterpart”, as in an informal abbreviation for one in opposition) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) “blocking” IN (i.e. “popular”) and TUNE, like so: IN-(OPPO-R)-TUNE. The mirror opposite of this clue amusingly appeared in the previous puzzle a couple of days ago.

12. Mark in college raised (4)

Answer: NOTE (i.e. “mark”). Solution is ETON (i.e. “college”) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue).

17. Guide Europeans over pitch (8)

Answer: POLESTAR (i.e. a director or “guide”, also known as Polaris or the North Star). Solution is POLES (i.e. “Europeans”) placed “over” TAR (i.e. “pitch”). My Chambers had this as two words. Hardly the seventh seal being broken, I know, but there you go.

19. Retailer, quiet about poor line, is to stock up again (9)

Answer: REPLENISH (i.e. “to stock up again”). Solution is REP (i.e. “retailer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a “[corporate] representative” – a weak one, this, so I might be wrong) and SH (i.e. “quiet”) placed “about” an anagram (indicated by “poor”) of LINE, like so: REP-(LENI)-SH.

22. Family member left complaint involving attacks (5,3)

Answer: GRAND MAL, a French term for a violently convulsive form of epilepsy (i.e. “complaint involving attacks”). Solution is GRANDMA (i.e. “family member”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

25. Garments of swimmer on lake (8)

Answer: LINGERIE (i.e. “garments”). Solution is LING (which is a kind of fish, i.e. “swimmer”; did a Google Image search – not a looker) followed by ERIE (one of the five Great “Lakes” in the US).

26. Accusing Punjabi’s group can end in snag (9)

Answer: INDICTING (i.e. “accusing”). Solution is INDIC, which is the Indian branch of Indo-European languages (i.e. “Punjabi’s [parent] group”), followed by TIN (i.e. “can”) and G (i.e. “end in snag”, i.e. the last letter of “snag”), like so: INDIC-TIN-G.

27. One predicting development of giant root crops (14)

Answer: PROGNOSTICATOR (i.e. “one predicting”). “Development” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GIANT ROOT CROPS.

28. Look around in theatre, place for acting (4,4)

Answer: ROLE PLAY (i.e. “acting”). Solution is LO (i.e. “look”, as in “lo and behold”) reversed (indicated by “around”) and placed “in” REP (i.e. “theatre” – “rep” is a recognised abbreviation of a repertory theatre, which has “a repertoire of plays and a stock or permanent company of actors”, it says here) and followed by PAY (i.e. “place”), like so: R(OL)EP-LAY. Bloody hell, that took some figuring out.

31. Plant extract which art collector has to have? (9,3)

Answer: ESSENTIAL OIL. Solution satisfies “plant extract” and, cryptically, “which art collector has to have”. I had this down as “sunflower oil” for too long before finally accepting it wasn’t to be. Sorry, Vince.

33. Make firm study works for one partner (11)

Answer: CONSOLIDATE (i.e. “make firm”). Another where the setter loses me, so watch out. I get that CON is an archaic word for “[to] study” and I DATE could be “[Roman numeral] one” and “partner”, but that’s about it. Next clue please.

36. A rebel here in France engaged by servant for painter (11)

Answer: ACADEMICIAN (i.e. “painter”, e.g. a Royal Academician, often abbreviated to RA by setters for use in their solutions). Solution is A, followed by Jack CADE (who led a rebellion against Henry VI a couple of years ago, i.e. “rebel”) and ICI (i.e. “here in France” – the French for “here” is “ici”) “engaged by” MAN (i.e. “servant”), like so: A-CADE-M(ICI)AN.

37. More confused with metric gauge (10)

Answer: MICROMETER (i.e. “gauge”). “Confused” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MORE and METRIC.

41. Old lady overwhelmed by change, being old school (4,5)

Answer: ALMA MATER (i.e. “old school”). Solution is MAMA (i.e. “old lady”) “overwhelmed by” ALTER (i.e. “change”), like so: AL(MAMA)TER.

42. Force Cicero to wriggle about (8)

Answer: COERCION (i.e. “force”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to wriggle”) of CICERO followed by ON (i.e. “about”), like so: COERCI-ON.

44. Dislike current lines by bard (3,4)

Answer: ILL WILL (i.e. “dislike”). Solution is I (used in physics to represent an electric “current”), then L and L (recognised abbreviations for “lines”), followed by WILL (i.e. “bard”, specifically William Shakespeare).

46. Bends stick broken by Roman here (7)

Answer: CHICANE (i.e. “bends”). Solution is CANE (i.e. “stick”) “broken by” HIC (i.e. “Roman here”, the Latin for “here” is “hic”), like so: C(HIC)ANE.

48. When climbing, wears bits of leather (6)

Answer: STROPS (i.e. “bits of leather”). Solution is SPORTS (i.e. “wears”) which is then reversed (indicated by “when climbing”, this being a down clue).

50. Foreign ally questioning whether he can proceed? (5)

Answer: AMIGO, Spanish for “friend” (i.e. “foreign ally”). As for the latter half of the clue, said ally could be said to be asking “AM I GO?”

51. Expel from school’s front bench (4)

Answer: SPEW (i.e. “expel”). Solution is S (i.e. “school’s front”, i.e. the first letter of “school”) followed by PEW (i.e. “bench”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1376

This week’s puzzle saw another slight increase in difficulty, but could equally have just been me taking longer than normal to twig the wordplay behind a number of clues. Either way, this puzzle was one of the better ones. You’ll find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As usual, before we crack on, a little housekeeping. If you have a relatively recent Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzle knocking around for which you’re missing a few solutions, then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you’ve a soft spot for horror short stories then you might find of interest my current folly of reviewing Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series, which you can find on my Reviews page.

Right-oh. On with the show. I’ll see you in a couple of days, all being well, once I’ve gotten my hands on Easter Monday’s puzzle.

LP

Across clues

1. Doctor put into a group round hospital with many others (3-6)

Answer: MOB-HANDED (i.e. “with many others”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) followed by BANDED (i.e. “put into a group”) placed “round” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hospital”), like so: MO-B(H)ANDED.

6. One who’s not genuine scarecrow (3,2,5)

Answer: MAN OF STRAW. Solution satisfies “one who’s not genuine” (perhaps more commonly referred to as a “straw man”), and “scarecrow”.

12. Runner arrives in haste at start of relay (7)

Answer: HARRIER (a cross-country “runner”). Solution is ARR (a recognised abbreviation of “arrives”) placed “in” HIE (i.e. “haste”) and then followed by R (i.e. “start of relay”, i.e. the first letter of “relay”), like so: H(ARR)IE-R.

13. Meeting of alumni? There’s a thing (9)

Answer: OBSESSION (i.e. “a thing”, e.g. having a thing for someone). Within the context of the clue, a “meeting of alumni” would be an OB SESSION, with OB being a recognised abbreviation of “old boy”.

14. One page coming out of directory (5)

Answer: RECTO, which is a printing term meaning the right-hand page of an open book. “Coming out of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: DI(RECTO)RY. This solution appeared recently in puzzle 1366.

16. A quiet period assembling for a fast start (3,9)

Answer: ASH WEDNESDAY (i.e. “a fast start”, being the first day of Lent). Solution is A then SH (i.e. “quiet”) and WEDNESDAY (i.e. a 24-hour “period”).

17. Receive two presents but not make further advance (3,7)

Answer: GET NOWHERE (i.e. “not make further advance”). Solution is GET (i.e. “receive”) followed by NOW and HERE (i.e. “two presents”).

19. Old police supervisors choosing what to close round wrists? (5,9)

Answer: WATCH COMMITTEE (i.e. “old police supervisors”). Solution jokingly suggests such a committee could also be responsible for choosing wristwatches. I’ll keep using my phone, thanks.

22. Fair experience very popular with creep (3,5)

Answer: BIG WHEEL (i.e. “fair experience”). Solution is BIG (i.e. “very popular”) followed by W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) and HEEL (i.e. “creep”).

24. Defector from Scottish party returning her dress? (6)

Answer: TARTAN. Solution is RAT (i.e. “defector”) followed by NAT (i.e. “from Scottish party”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “Nationalist”), all reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: TAR-TAN. Within the context of the clue, said Scottish defector’s dress could well be tartan.

25. Politician tending to arouse lecherous thoughts, by agreement (10)

Answer: CONSENSUAL (i.e. “by agreement”). Solution is CON (i.e. “politician”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) followed by SENSUAL (i.e. “tending to arouse lecherous thoughts”).

26. Violinist, say, during and at the end of recital? (5)

Answer: BOWER. Solution satisfies “violinist, say, during recital” as in one using a bow to play their instrument, and “violinist, say, at the end of recital”, as in one taking a bow at the end of their performance. A pleasingly elegant clue.

29. Go over and over something on the drums (4)

Answer: ROLL. Solution satisfies “go over and over” and “something on the drums”, as in a drum roll.

30. Heavily defeat male, since all but untouchable (8)

Answer: MASSACRE (i.e. “heavily defeat”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) followed by AS (i.e. “since”) and SACRED (i.e. “untouchable”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “all but”), like so: M-AS-SACRE.

32. Even biography is an art form (5,4)

Answer: STILL LIFE (i.e. “art form”). Solution is STILL (i.e. “even”) followed by LIFE (i.e. “biography”).

34. This term oddly tires me out (9)

Answer: TRIMESTER (i.e. three months, or an academic “term”). Solution is TR (i.e. “term oddly”, i.e. the odd letters of TERM) followed by an anagram (indicated by “out”) of TIRES ME, like so: TR-IMESTER.

35. Inopportune fret by half back (8)

Answer: MISTIMED (i.e. “inopportune”). Solution is MIST (e.g. a sea “fret”) followed by DEMI (i.e. “half”) reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: MIST-IMED.

36. Manages to drop daughter in marshland (4)

Answer: FENS (i.e. “marshland”). Solution is FENDS (i.e. “manages”) with the D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) “dropped”.

39. Get cracking, say, to open container (5)

Answer: BEGIN (i.e. “get cracking”). Solution is EG (i.e. for example, or “say”) “opening” BIN (i.e. “container”), like so: B(EG)IN.

40. Plant second holy book (good!) in church (4,6)

Answer: MOCK ORANGE (i.e. “plant”). Solution is MO (short for moment, i.e. a “second”) with KORAN (i.e. “holy book”) and G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) placed “in” CE (ditto “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: MO-C(KORAN-G)E.

42. Presumably happy about one omitted from speech (6)

Answer: UNSAID (i.e. “omitted from speech”). Solution is UNSAD (i.e. “presumably happy”) placed “about” I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: UNSA(I)D.

44. Searching for this, Marcel fell behind (4,4)

Answer: LOST TIME. Solution satisfies both “fell behind” and “searching for this, Marcel”, as in Marcel Proust’s 4000+ page novel In Search Of Lost Time. Can’t say I’ve read it, but I have read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, which also weighs in over 4000 pages. Does that count?

46. Illnesses later devastated island group (6,8)

Answer: LESSER ANTILLES (i.e. “island group”). “Devastated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ILLNESSES LATER.

48. Summarily dismissed in speech all the time (10)

Answer: THROUGHOUT (i.e. “all the time”). Solution also satisfies “summarily dismissed in speech”, i.e. a homophone of “threw out”.

49. Current situation of the national myth? (3,2,3,4)

Answer: LIE OF THE LAND. Solution satisfies “current situation” and, cryptically, “the national myth” – a myth being another word for a lie.

53. Meaning to float along (5)

Answer: DRIFT. Solution satisfies “meaning” and “to float along”.

54. Principally relied on such a drive in a British vehicle (5-4)

Answer: RIGHT HAND. Solution satisfies “principally relied on”, as in a right-hand man, and “a [right-hand] drive in a British vehicle”.

55. One may be boring these days, joining in rough fight (7)

Answer: BRADAWL, which is a small tool used for making holes in woodwork to assist the application of nails or screws (i.e. “one may be boring”). Solution is AD (i.e. “these days”, as in Anno Domini) “joined in” BRAWL (i.e. “rough fight”), like so: BR(AD)AWL.

56. “Where is the college porter?” barmaid said (4,6)

Answer: BEER CELLAR. Solution satisfies “barmaid said”, i.e. a homophone of “beer seller”. In the context of the clue, a beer cellar would well be where the porter – a kind of beer – is kept. Not a great one, this. I’m guessing “college” is a red herring to throw solvers off the desired meaning of “porter”, but I could be wrong.

57. Setter chosen – assess regularly for brevity (9)

Answer: TERSENESS (i.e. “brevity”). “Regularly” suggests the solution can be found at regular intervals in the clue, in this case the final three letters of the first three words of the clue: SETTER CHOSEN ASSESS.

Down clues

1. Slowly transform school party going over hotel (5)

Answer: MORPH (i.e. “slowly transform”). Solution is PROM (i.e. “school party”) reversed (indicated by “going over”) and followed by H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: MORP-H.

2. Literary castle often veiled (10)

Answer: BRIDESHEAD. Solution satisfies “literary castle”, specifically from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, and something that is “often veiled”, as in a BRIDES HEAD.

3. A monarch abandoning modern art, rejected as without purpose (2,6)

Answer: AT RANDOM (i.e. “without purpose”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “rejected”) of MODERN ART once ER (i.e. “a monarch”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) has been removed (i.e. “abandoned”).

4. Refuse Duke Lawrence (5)

Answer: DROSS (i.e “refuse”, as in rubbish). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “duke”) followed by John Hume ROSS, a false name used by Thomas Edward “Lawrence”, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia. That’s my take on it, anyway.

5. Philosopher taking sort of lead, with children round about (9)

Answer: René DESCARTES (i.e. “philosopher”). Solution is SCART (i.e. “sort of lead” – ask your parents, kids) with SEED (i.e. “children”) reversed and placed around it (indicated by “round” and “about”), like so: DE(SCART)ES.

6. Paste is inserted by doctor (4)

Answer: MISO (i.e. a Japanese “paste” made from soya beans). Solution is IS “inserted” into MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer), like so: M(IS)O.

7. Properly fixed, having got worse after November (6)

Answer: NAILED (i.e. “properly fixed”). Solution is AILED (i.e. “having got worse”) placed “after” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: N-AILED.

8. Paper money minister initially covered in restrictions (9,5)

Answer: FINANCIAL TIMES (i.e. “paper”). Solution is FINANCIAL (i.e. “money”) followed by M (i.e. “minister initially”, i.e. the first letter of “minister”) “covered in” TIES (i.e. “restrictions”), like so: FINANCIAL-TI(M)ES.

9. Delivered curve ball, perhaps, get very upset (5,1,6)

Answer: THREW A WOBBLY. Solution satisfies “delivered curve ball, perhaps” and “get very upset”. The past tense of the former suggests is should be THREW rather than THROW.

10. In a Med island clubs grow together (7)

Answer: ACCRETE (i.e. “grow together”). Solution is A and CRETE (i.e. “Med island”) placed around C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games), like so: A-(C)-CRETE.

11. Wheatear chewed and eaten by senior bird (10)

Answer: SHEARWATER (i.e. “bird” – did a Google Image search: cool wings, bit random otherwise). Solution is SR (a recognised abbreviation of “senior”) “eating” an anagram (indicated by “chewed”) of WHEATEAR, like so: S(HEARWATE)R. Another well-worked clue.

15. Excessive lavender and rosemary at first in round border (9)

Answer: OVERLARGE (i.e. “excessive”). Solution is L, A and R (i.e. “lavender and rosemary at first”, i.e. the first letters of “lavender”, “and” and “rosemary”) placed in O (i.e. “round”) and VERGE (i.e. “border”), like so: O-VER(L-A-R)GE.

18. Not so much needed to cover girl, being thin (8)

Answer: LEANNESS (i.e. “being thin”). Solution is LESS (i.e. “not so much”) “covering” ANNE (i.e. “girl”), like so: LE(ANNE)SS.

20. Sensational preoccupation about running water (9)

Answer: THRILLING (i.e. “sensational”). Solution is THING (i.e. “preoccupation”, as in having a thing for someone) placed “about” RILL, which is a very small brook (i.e. “running water”).

21. Crazed drummer’s means of transport (10)

Answer: MOONSTRUCK (i.e. “crazed”). Solution is Keith MOON (i.e. the “drummer” in The Who) with a possessive ‘S and followed by TRUCK (i.e. “means of transport”).

23. Nursing leg, shot – by him? (10)

Answer: GUNSLINGER. “Shot” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NURSING LEG. Within the context of the clue, someone could well have been shot by a gunslinger.

27. What everyone supports the tiniest bit: government (9)

Answer: WHITEHALL (i.e. “government”). Solution is EH (i.e. “what”, as in “eh?”) and ALL (i.e. “everyone”) being placed under or “supporting” WHIT (i.e. “the tiniest bit”) – this being a down clue – like so: WHIT-EH-ALL. One of those clues where the wordplay took a lot longer to figure out than the solution itself. I rather like it, weirdly.

28. No atmosphere? I’m having to change double act (9,5)

Answer: PANTOMINE HORSE (i.e. “double act”). “Having to change” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NO ATMOSPHERE IM.

31. Made manure as temperature dropped in calm (8)

Answer: COMPOSED (i.e. “calm”). Solution is COMPOSTED (i.e. “made manure”) with the T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) removed or “dropped”.

33. Paste up a brunette, top of torso retouched (6,6)

Answer: PEANUT BUTTER (i.e. “paste”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “retouched”) of UP A BRUNETTE and T (i.e. “top of torso”, i.e. the first letter of “torso”).

34. Not to be touched on behind, daughter ordered (9)

Answer: TABULATED (i.e. “ordered”). Solution is TABU, an alternative spelling of taboo (i.e. “not to be touched”) followed by LATE (i.e. “behind”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”).

37. Inch round close to the blue delta, not across the bay? (4-6)

Answer: SIDE-SADDLE (i.e. “[riding] not across the bay [horse]”). Solution is SIDLE (i.e. to “inch”) placed “round” E (i.e. “close to the”, i.e. the last letter of “the”), SAD (i.e. “blue”) and D (“delta” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: SID(E-SAD-D)LE.

38. At home, box inlaid with pine missing its top – turn to ash (10)

Answer: INCINERATE (i.e. “turn to ash”). Solution is IN (i.e. “at home”) followed by CRATE (i.e. “box”) which has been “inlaid with” INE (i.e. “pine missing its top”, i.e. the word “pine” without the initial letter), like so: IN-C(INE)RATE.

41. Stalin as a vicious aggressor (9)

Answer: ASSAILANT (i.e. “aggressor”). “Vicious” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of STALIN AS A.

43. Not mentally sound, take horse out? (8)

Answer: UNSTABLE. Solution satisfies “not mentally sound” and, cryptically, to “take horse out”.

45. Set of dishes for ceremony (7)

Answer: SERVICE. Solution satisfies “set of dishes” and “ceremony”.

47. Good-time girl’s sort of infection (6)

Answer: FUNGAL. Solution satisfies “sort of infection” and “good-time girl”, i.e. a FUN GAL.

50. Stranger backing Communist Party (5)

Answer: ODDER (i.e. “stranger”). Solution is RED (i.e. “Communist”) and DO (i.e. “party” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “backing”) like so: OD-DER.

51. President commonly received a text (5)

Answer: John ADAMS, second “president” of the United States of America. Solution is AD (i.e. “commonly received”, i.e. the word “had” as said by one who drops their aitches) then A and MS (i.e. “text”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”), like so: AD-A-MS. Another where the wordplay took significantly longer to figure out than the solution.

52. Hollywood figure perhaps, half naked (4)

Answer: STAR (i.e. “Hollywood figure, perhaps” – could refer to “star” as in a celebrity, or the stars that adorn the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard). Solution is the first half of STARKERS (i.e. “half-naked”).

Review: Best New Horror 4

Nom, nom, nom!

(If you would like a run-through the stories found in the first three volumes of Best New Horror, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

Best New Horror continues into a fourth volume showcasing twenty-four of the best horror shorts published during 1992. Well, twentyish may be a more accurate description. Not for the first time, the editors have padded the book with a few not-terribly-horrific pretenders, especially in the latter half. Thankfully, the quality of these pretenders helps elevate the book into 4/5 territory.

As to the stories, let’s take a look.

Also collected in Edelman’s “These Words Are Haunted”. Cool cover, taking detail from Francisco Goya’s “Saturn Eating His Son”. Nom, nom, nom! (Again.)

The Suicide Artist – Scott Edelman (3/5 – A man reluctantly tells the reader of a horrible experience of his, aged just six, when a stranger led him away from school. He would like to end the story there but, of course, you, the reader, want to know more. So he continues: detailing the murderous lengths he went to in order to survive the stranger’s clutches; about the tragedy that had seen him left alone at the school gates in the first place; and, a short time later, how he stumbled upon his father’s appalling abuse of Kate, his older sister. The more that is revealed, the greater the bitterness and hostility the narrator feels about it. How dare you want to know more! But you can’t help it, can you? You just won’t let him stop, not unless… I admire what Edelman was trying to do here, exploring how characters in a horror story would feel to have the worst moments of their lives written up for the entertainment of others, and how the permeance of the fourth wall could present an opportunity for a little payback. In Edelman’s introduction, he describes the unease the story would create in his audience whenever he performed a reading of it, and I can fully believe it. This is a piece that begs to be read aloud. On paper, however, its power is lessened. In my case it allowed me to dwell upon on plot weaknesses. Rather than feeling shame at wanting to know more of the story, or quivering in fear of what the narrator might have in store for me, I spent the latter half thinking, “Wow, you were one unexpectedly strong and fiendishly devious six-year old boy, weren’t you?”)

Dancing On A Blade Of Dreams – Roberta Lannes (3/5 – The evil that men do carries over into this sexually-charged story of a juror, Patty, during a kidnapping-rape-murder trial. In the dock sits Garrick, an incredibly handsome man who claims to have been set up by a former friend. One night, as the trial nears its climax, Patty dreams of being driven – shackled, bruised and bloody – to a pristine hotel room where she is chained to a bathtub by her ex-husband, Michael. There she is abused by her ex, all the while craving the smallest morsel of his love. When Patty eventually awakens, she feels incredibly uncomfortable about the dream, for Michael had never once been violent during their marriage. Patty’s stomach sinks when the trial moves onto an eerily-familiar hotel room in which one of the victims was believed to have been held captive. It seems Patty is experiencing the horrific final days of Garrick’s victims in her dreams and, worse still, Garrick knows it. This was okay, and noticeably better than Apostate In Denim, Lannes’ controversial entry in Best New Horror 2. Lannes works some vivid and gruesomely effective imagery into her story, but the ending felt a little tacked-on and didn’t work the more I thought about it.)

Also collected in “The Essential Clive Barker”

The Departed – Clive Barker (5/5 – A short and sweet story in which Hermione, a recently-departed ghost, seeks to connect with her young son one last time. Under the counsel of an experienced old ghost called Rice, the two devise a plan to visit upon the boy while he is out trick-or-treating. Barker works real magic in this story. There can be no other explanation. In the space of a few pages he masterfully creates a pair of wonderful characters in Hermione and especially Rice, and imbues them with a winning chemistry from the off. By the ending – because of the ending – I wanted to know so much more about them. An excellent read.)

 

Also collected in Brite’s “Swamp Foetus”

How To Get Ahead In New York – Poppy Z. Brite (4/5 – Steve and Ghost (from Brite’s novel Lost Souls) are booked to play a gig in New York’s East Village. It’s four in the morning and they step off a Greyhound and into a daunting Port Authority bus terminal. It doesn’t take long for them to get lost in a building seemingly designed to confuse out-of-towners, and they soon fall prey to a resident army of mindless vagrants. So begins a typically strange morning in New York. I liked this story a lot, despite not having read Lost Souls. Brite maintains a light and affectionate touch throughout much of the story, wrapping a rich human zoo around Steve and Ghost as they sample much of the weirdness New York has to offer.)

Also collected in Brunner’s “The Man Who Was Secrett and Other Stories”

They Take – John Brunner (4/5 – Ann and her husband Carlo are summoned to Bolsevieto, a small rural Italian village, to inspect a nearby house and some accompanying land, both of which had been left to Ann by her late aunt. They are unimpressed by what they find. They are keen to leave the village and to sell the place as soon as possible, until Ann spots some unusual tomb-like structures squatting on her land. They should have listened to their instincts. There’s a great sense of place in this story, helped in no small part by Brunner’s command of all things Italian. Horror stalwarts will probably find the bones of this story in numerous others they read, but, all things considered, this is a good substitute for the “dumped on a remote Greek island” story found in the previous three books.)

Replacements – Lisa Tuttle (4/5 – Stuart is horrified by the sight of a wingless bat-like creature shuffling pathetically amid the pavement trash. He instinctively stamps it to death, repulsed, but soon finds another crawling along the kerbside. It’s clear there are more of the hideous little critters out there. Tensions mount when his wife, Jenny, brings one of the creatures home as a pet, seemingly in thrall of it. This story did a decent job of making my skin crawl but was somewhat offset by Stuart being a complete and utter wet blanket. Throughout the story he tells precisely nobody about his predicament, which takes some swallowing.)

Also collected in “25 Years in the Word Mines – The Best Short Fiction of Graham Joyce”

Under The Pylon – Graham Joyce (4/5 – A bunch of kids play beneath a neighbourhood pylon, paying no heed to the warning signs and in spite of the discarded bricks and five-foot-high nettles growing there. Big School is fast approaching for all of them, bringing with it the end of childhood innocence and the onset of puberty, and it seems the pylon is sensitive to the changes playing out below. There’s something about Joyce’s style that never fails to draw me in, a raw honesty perhaps. I loved The Year of the Ladybird (a.k.a. The Man in the Electric Blue Suit in the US), a review of which you can read here, and I really liked this.)

 

Collected in Ligotti’s “Grimscribe: His Lives and Works”

The Glamour – Thomas Ligotti (3/5 – A man is drawn to a movie theatre one night while walking through an unfamiliar part of town. Being the kind of man who likes visiting movie theatres in the dead of night, this seems rather a fortuitous find. The front of the movie theatre is dilapidated and boarded up, and yet a poorly-lit notice advertises tonight’s attraction: “The Glamour”. When his attention is drawn to an alternative side-entrance to the building further along a darkened alleyway, the man is helpless to resist taking a look. This story has appeared in a few “Best of…” anthologies over the years but was a bit of a misfire for me, sadly, even after a reread. Ligotti’s lush writing is present, certainly, but in places it felt like he was trying too hard. His use of repetition, often a successful and hypnotic trait of his other works, feels a little overdone here, likewise a visceral atmosphere he doesn’t so much accumulate as heap upon the reader once our man enters the movie theatre. Could just be me, though.)

Also collected in Gordon’s “The Burning Baby and Other Ghosts”

Under The Ice – John Gordon (4/5 – Rupert invites his schoolfriend, David, to come skating on the frozen fens near his parent’s farm. David is a little suspicious of the boy’s motives. It’s as if Rupert has an answer to every excuse of David’s for not going. Eventually David gives in and they are picked up by Rupert’s father. David soon finds that Rupert’s parents weren’t expecting company, making him feel even less comfortable. He senses a great unspoken tragedy hanging over the family: conversation with Rupert’s father is practically non-existent, while Rupert’s mother is a shadow of her former vibrant self. To David’s relief, Rupert pulls him away from the house and out onto the ice. With the daylight quickly fading, the boy is keen to show David something out there; something under the ice. Like They Take a little earlier in the book, this story will have a familiar ring to it for seasoned horror fans, but is no less of a good read because of it. Worth a look.)

Collected in Lane’s “The Earthwire and Other Stories”

And Some Are Missing – Joel Lane (4/5 – David is adjusting to life alone following a split from his long-term boyfriend, Alan. A chance intervention outside his new digs introduces David to the shadowy antipeople, and they are not exactly friendly. I mentioned in my review of Best New Horror 3, which featured Lane’s story Power Cut, how I often have to read his stories a couple of times before I get a whiff of what’s really going on. This was one of those stories, due mainly to a final sentence that forced me to reassess everything I’d just read. After a re-read, I’m fairly certain it was thrown in there for precisely that purpose, but your reading of it may differ. Either way, it is still worth a read.)

 

The Little Green Ones – Les Daniels (3/5 – An American writer takes time out from a convention to explore a nearby London cemetery where he is creeped out by a pair of lifelike statues: one of a little girl, the other a little boy. Both are completely covered with an unusually green lichen, a colour that begins to haunt him as he returns home. In the editors’ introduction they explain how this story was inspired by the author’s attendance at a recent World Fantasy Convention held in London. I rather wished they’d hadn’t mentioned this, to be honest, because it made The Little Green Ones less of a horror story and more a six-page gripe about the shitty time he had there. This was an okay read, to be fair, but how this was nominated for a World Fantasy Award back in the day is a mystery.)

Also collected in SRT’s “The Far Side Of The Lake”

Mirror Man – Steve Rasnic Tem (3/5 – Jeff is a man staring old age in the face, quite literally. He regularly checks his appearance in the mirror for fresh signs of his inevitable decrepitude, unable to help himself. His marriage to Liz has long been a loveless endeavour, but Jeff is determined not to let the same happen with Susan, their eleven-year-old daughter. In fact, to help him feel better about the white hairs poking out of his ears, he decides it would be a fine idea to take his daughter for a long drive to Providence and to a college reunion due to take place there. There he can show Susan off to all his old friends. Wouldn’t that be fun? (…?) The longer the drive drags on, and the closer they get to Providence, the more it seems Susan is slipping away from him. On the Steve Rasnic Tem Weird-O-Meter™, this story ranks a respectable “Pretty Strange”. Sadly, it doesn’t rank among his best. It’s not for a lack of effort, but it seems my Lovecraftian maxim holds true once more: that when an author dabbles in Lovecraft’s world, they often produce inferior work. Indeed, in the introduction to this story, we learn SRT had a hard time selling it for publication precisely due to its Lovecraftian angle, eventually finding succour in a dedicated Lovecraftian press.)

Mothmusic – Sarah Ash (4/5 – Astar Taziel is a physician who witnesses the devastating effects of boskh – a substance yielded from the dust of a moonmoth’s wings. Boskh has wonderful medicinal qualities when taken in moderation, but beyond that addiction lies. To Taziel’s growing horror, it soon becomes clear that boskh has a payload much more serious than mere dependency. This is a fantasy yarn, traveller, so steel yonself for A Story Of A Hundred And One Spurious Names. Stick with this one, though, because there is a satisfying seam of horror running throughout.)

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

Did They Get You To Trade? – Karl Edward Wagner (5/5 – Another winner from Wagner sees Ryan Chase, a successful portrait artist, seeking inspiration over a few alfresco pints one fine sunny afternoon in London. A homeless man approaches Chase’s table and begs a few coins for a meal. Chase sees something in the man that could inspire a future work and so he buys a round of drinks to get to know him a little more. To his surprise Chase discovers the derelict was once a punk hero of his: the mighty Nemo Skagg of the trailblazing punk band Needle, a man who once had the world at his feet, but is now on his uppers. What could have happened to Skagg for him to end up in this state? Over the course of a staggering amount of drink, we are about to find out. This was nominated for a Stoker award back in the day, but, even after a reread, I fail to see the horror here. Urban fantasy, absolutely. Horror, no. Not that any of that matters because, whatever the genre, this story is a solid-gold treat from beginning to end. Put simply, Nemo Skagg is a magnificent creation. In Skagg, Wagner perfectly captures an angry punk spark and fierce intelligence that can never be fully extinguished by the booze, but in the end it’s Skagg’s humanity that shines through. The final revelation of what happened to the last of Skagg’s money is bittersweet and devastating. I can’t pretend to have read Wagner’s entire output, but I’d be astonished if he had written many things better than this. A reread sees this score upped from a 4/5 to 5/5.)

Night Shift Sister – Nicholas Royle (4/5 – Carl is a record shop owner with a huge record collection, an even bigger crush on Siouxsie Sioux and a photocopied map of somewhere he cannot place. The latter intrigues him. There are no street names to speak of and none of the landmarks are labelled, so where could the map have come from? Wait, there’s a Siouxsie Sioux lookalike over there. Perhaps she will know something. Yeah, the jumps of logic in this story take some getting over, but to be fair this is the best Royle story I’ve read in Best New Horror so far, and it bagged a British Fantasy Award at the time. It was also weirdly fun counting all the spiral motifs Royle stuffed into the story.)

The Dead – Simon Ings & M. John Harrison (2/5 – Echoes of the old New Wave movement can be heard in a story where a woman discovers through her childhood and young womanhood an unwanted and unpleasant rebirthing role she must fulfil. My original review of this story was a single word “Nope” – not entirely helpful, but it rather summed up my thoughts at the time. Nothing in the story quite matches the creep factor of two blokes, however well-respected, hunched over their respective keyboards writing this particular literary gem:

It helps to lick your finger and wet yourself between the legs.

Riiiiiight, thanks fellas. The piece improves upon a second reading, but not enough to improve its score. If you are a fan of fiction from out of the left-field then you might have a better time of The Dead than me. That said, when this story was republished in Interzone magazine back in January 1993 – a publication not entirely unfamiliar with weird fiction – it sank without a trace in its annual Readers Poll. Next story please!)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Uncut”

Norman Wisdom And The Angel Of Death – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – Stanley is a desperately boring man charged with brightening up the days of those patients at his local hospital with no family or friends to visit them. And how better to entertain the lonely sick than a meticulous run-through of every Norman Wisdom movie, line by line, scene by scene? Just don’t switch off whatever you do, otherwise it might be the end of you! When budget cuts create a bed shortage at the hospital, Stanley is asked to take in a wheelchair-bound patient, Saskia. They instantly hit it off, with Stanley finding in Saskia a tonic to his own loneliness. To top it all, she is a fan of Our Norman. How fortunate is that! Could Stanley be about to turn his life around? What do you reckon? Fowler expertly crafts an engaging and hyperreal villain in Stanley in an entertaining story that is only one contrivance short of perfection.)

Red Reign – Kim Newman (5/5 – This is the novella that inspired Newman’s Anno Dracula series of books, and it’s a corker. I had avoided the Anno Dracula series till now because “vampires, meh…” but I might have to rethink all that. This is Victorian London, but not as we know it. Dracula is Prince Regent, vampirism is spreading unchecked across the land, and a certain Dr Seward is secretly taking it upon himself to despatch vampish ladies of the night. The murders are sending ripples across the warms (humans) and new-borns (vampires) alike. Something must be done. Centuries-old vampire Genevieve Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of The Diogenes Club must work together to root out this so-called “Jack The Ripper”. This brilliant story is worth the entrance fee on its own.)

Also collected in Atkins’ “The Wishmaster and Other Stories”

Aviatrix – Peter Atkins (3/5 – Jonathan Dyson is a nervous flyer. He’s fine once he’s up in the air, but the take-off? Forget about it. To help him get through his latest trip he sinks a Valium pre-flight, secures himself in his seat, and finds himself slipping into a vivid dream world. In it he meets the titular aviatrix who takes him out in her open-top biplane across increasingly strange lands and seas. As he slips in and out of consciousness Jonathan is surprised to find he is able to re-enter his dream where he left off. This was okay, with some great little touches here and there, particularly when Jonathan slips into the dream world for the first time, but let’s be honest – the moment you saw he was a nervous flyer you probably guessed how the story turns out.)

Also collected in MacLeod’s “Past Magic”

Snodgrass – Ian R. MacLeod (4/5 – A smart alternative history that follows John Lennon as he bums around Birmingham thirty years after he walked out The Beatles. His whole selfish existence has been spent living from one moment to the next. His friends and acquaintances are little more than means to an end, which, for “Dr Winston O’Boogie”, is usually to get pissed and get high. Now, with Lennon squarely in his fifties, The Beatles are back in town and Macca would like to see the good doctor again. I liked this a lot more than 1/72nd Scale, MacLeod’s previous story in Best New Horror 2. His Lennon is a wonderfully gobby character: coarse and witty and, despite his many, many flaws, unmistakeably human. This is an engrossing and entertaining read, certainly, but it has found its way into a horror anthology on the thinnest of premises.)

Also collected in Wilhelm’s “And the Angels Sing”

The Day Of The Sharks – Kate Wilhelm (3/5 – Gary and Veronica are heading on holiday to Grand Bahama, stopping over at Bill and Shar’s luxury house on the way. Their hosts are preparing for a party that evening, to which Gary and Veronica are cordially invited. The shindig is self-serving, of course. Gary is an investment councillor and he knows it won’t take long for Bill’s wealthy business-owning guests to learn of the fact and to start tapping him up. Meanwhile Veronica is a woman on the edge of madness. She struggles to hold herself together with tranquilisers after an incident in which she set fire to her workplace. Gary cares little for her these days. He’s playing down time before they can separate. Gary’s much keener to bump uglies with Shar again. Events take a metaphorically gruesome turn the morning after the party. This was okay but, as you may have detected, a lack of likeable characters made it difficult to care what was happening to anybody.)

Also collected in Harrison’s “Travel Arrangements”

Anima – M. John Harrison (3/5 – A writer makes the acquaintance of a curious fella called Choe Ashton, who proceeds to drift in and out of his life. Ashton is an enigma: giddy and in love with the world one moment, then surly and abusive the next. He is, however, never less than interesting. It’s impossible to see the whole of him without parts of one’s vision blurring, for instance. Ashton is prone to disappearing for weeks and months without notice only to reappear as if nothing had happened, and our man is unable to resist his call every time. The anima is another name for the soul and Harrison deftly personifies through Ashton the changeable and restless bugger sitting behind the wheel in all of us. It’s an okay read – less a story than it is a character study – but quite what qualified this for inclusion in a horror anthology is beyond me.)

Bright Lights, Big Zombie – Douglas E. Winter (3/5 – In this Stoker-nominated story, zombies are a thing, New York is struggling to cope with its returning dead and society has banned all video nasties as part of its response. Blurry umpteenth-generation copies of notorious old giallo flicks such as Cannibal Holocaust and Guinea Pig become valuable contraband, and an opportunity presents itself to exploit this demand by producing real-life zombie movies. The story is told in second-person (as fans of Bright Lights, Big City might suspect). Usually this is a red flag for me, but Winter’s playful inventiveness made this one of the better examples.)

Also collected in Straub’s “Magic Terror”

The Ghost Village – Peter Straub (5/5 – This superb novella expands on Straub’s novel Koko and is an early and condensed version of The Throat, the concluding part of his Blue Rose trilogy. We’re back in the heat of the Vietnamese jungle. Death is only a sniper’s bullet away. Tim Underhill and Mike Poole explore a chamber dug beneath a hut in an abandoned village. Something bad happened here, something bad enough to keep the VC away. Text lines the walls and ceiling of the chamber, old rust-coloured blood stains much of the floor and ominous-looking manacles hang limp. A chance meeting in an illegal bar reveals the horrific truth of the place. Like Koko before it, The Ghost Village bagged a World Fantasy Award, and is a terrific closer to this book.)

 

And so ends another monster review of Best New Horror. Thanks for getting this far. I hope you enjoyed it. Sadly, PS Publishing’s anniversary editions of Best New Horror seem to have stopped at book three with little sign of the series continuing. They continue to publish new volumes of the series, however, with book twenty-nine (yes, twenty-nine!) coming in the next month or so. That said, you shouldn’t have too much trouble sourcing a second-hand copy of this book from Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks should you desire, and, as ever, you’ll find eBook editions available across all main platforms.

And so onto book five!

LP

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1375

A slightly tougher puzzle this time, which makes me think there could be a stinker coming over the busy Easter weekend! This was a pretty good puzzle too, all told, with only one repeat of a recent solution to speak of (GARB). You’ll find my completed grid below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

If you’d like solutions for the last couple dozen Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzles, then jump to my Just For Fun page. If you’re a fan of horror fiction (because why wouldn’t you be?) then I have a few things on my Reviews page that might float your boat, soon to include the oft-promised review for Best New Horror 4. (I’m just turning it into some approximation of English.)

Till then, TTFN.

LP

Across clues

1. Engaging in local tour, turned ahead to progress slowly in Crosby? (3-8)

Answer: PUB-CRAWLING (i.e. “engaging in local tour”). Solution is UP (i.e. “ahead”) reversed (indicated by “turned”) and then followed by CRAWL (i.e. “to progress slowly”) placed “in” BING (i.e. “Crosby”), like so: PU-B(CRAWL)ING.

7. Here one may find shops are opened by scoundrel (6)

Answer: ARCADE (i.e. “here one may find shops”). Solution is ARE being “opened [up] by” CAD (i.e. “scoundrel”), like so: AR(CAD)E.

10. Swedish-American star almost in dress (4)

Answer: GARB (i.e. “dress”). Solution is Greta GARBO (i.e. “Swedish-American star”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”).

14. Principal director brings in northern chap to make money abroad (7)

Answer: CENTIMO, which is the name of several Latin American countries’ small coins (i.e. “money abroad”). Solution is CEO (i.e. “principal director”, specifically a Chief Executive Officer) “bringing in” N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”) and TIM (i.e. “chap”, as in a man’s name), like so: CE(N-TIM)O.

15. Men, splitting apart, strangely maintaining correspondence (3,4)

Answer: PRO RATA (i.e. “maintaining correspondence” – pro rata means “in proportion”, so this should be read along the lines of “maintaining correspondent portions”. It’s sneaky, but I rather like it.) Solution is OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) “splitting” an anagram (indicated by “strangely”) of APART, like so: PR(OR)ATA.

16. Spectacular performance where learner breaks cover (7)

Answer: BLINDER (i.e. “spectacular performance”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) “breaking” BINDER (i.e. “cover”), like so: B(L)INDER.

17. Endeavour by arrangement to have superb small pianos (7,6)

Answer: CONCERT GRANDS (i.e. “pianos”). Solution is CONCERT (i.e. “endeavour”, think of it like a concerted effort) placed “by” GRAND (i.e. “superb”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”), like so: CONCERT-GRAND-S.

18. Diver in vehicle test on craft circling lake (9)

Answer: GUILLEMOT, a shorebird that can dive up to 100m for food (i.e. “diver”). Did a Google Image search – yup, looks like a bird. Solution is MOT (i.e. “vehicle test” – the initials are derived from the now-defunct Ministry of Transport) placed after GUILE (i.e. “craft”) which is “circling” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: GUI(L)LE-MOT.

19. Republican, accompanied by venomous types, speaks hoarsely (5)

Answer: RASPS (i.e. “speaks hoarsely”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) followed by ASPS (i.e. “venomous types”).

21. Fuel the very thing needed in an ancient Balkan location (10)

Answer: ANTHRACITE, also known as “hard coal”, which burns without smoke or much of a flame. Good for barbeques, then. Anyway, “fuel”. Solution is IT (i.e. “the very thing”) placed “in” AN and THRACE (i.e. “ancient Balkan location” – no, me neither), like so: AN-THRAC(IT)E.

23. Brutish sort, throwing back thin plate (6)

Answer: ANIMAL (i.e. “brutish sort”). Solution is LAMINA (i.e. “thin plate”) reversed (indicated by “thrown back”).

25. Artist in decline – could depression cause this? (8)

Answer: RAINFALL (i.e. “could [atmospheric] depression cause this”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) then IN, and then FALL (i.e. “decline”).

26. Man’s excellent knowledge about British regiment in border area (6-8)

Answer: ALSACE-LORRAINE, a region of France that was annexed by the German Empire in the 19th century (i.e. “border area”). Solution is AL’S (i.e. “man’s”), then ACE (i.e. “excellent”), followed by LORE (i.e. “knowledge”) placed “about” RA (i.e. “British regiment”, specifically the Royal Artillery) and IN, like so: ALS-ACE-LOR(RA-IN)E. I got the Alsace bit, but had to look up the rest.

29. Element turning stomach in clergyman losing work (7)

Answer: BISMUTH (i.e. “[chemical] element”). Solution is TUM (i.e. “stomach”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and placed in BISHOP (i.e. “clergyman”) with the OP removed (i.e. “losing work” – op being short for operation), like so: BIS(MUT)H.

30. Likely to notice retainer having departed? (9)

Answer: OBSERVANT (i.e. “likely to notice”). Solution is SERVANT (i.e. “retainer”) placed after OB (an abbreviation of “obiit”, which is Latin for “died”, i.e. “departed”), like so: OB-SERVANT.

31. Lived in luxury endlessly in Datchet’s outskirts (5)

Answer: DWELT (i.e. “lived in”). Solution is WELL (as in some degree of “luxury”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and placed in DT (i.e. “Datchet’s outskirts”, i.e. the first and last letters of “Datchet”), like so: D(WEL)T.

32. Try hard to catch glimpse of Romeo – stick around (5)

Answer: CRANE (i.e. “try hard to catch glimpse”). Solution is R (which is “Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet) with CANE (i.e. “stick”) placed “around” it, like so: C(R)ANE.

34. Vessel having rope at bow in tangle (9)

Answer: POWERBOAT (i.e. “vessel”). “In tangle” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ROPE AT BOW.

37. Exile concerned with stale atmosphere vacated enclosure (7)

Answer: REFUGEE (i.e. “exile”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerned with”) followed by FUG (i.e. “stale atmosphere”) and EE (i.e. “vacated enclosure”, i.e. the word “enclosure” with all its middle letters removed), like so: RE-FUG-EE.

39. Nurse working after pains located around sick body part (8,6)

Answer: ACHILLES TENDON (i.e. “body part”). Solution is TEND (i.e. “[to] nurse”) and ON (i.e. “working”) placed “after” ACHES (i.e. “pains”) put “around” ILL (i.e. “sick”), like so: ACH(ILL)ES-TEND-ON.

41. Secret meeting with Tory and Liberal inside underground chamber (8)

Answer: CONCLAVE (i.e. “secret meeting”). Solution is CON (i.e. “Tory”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Conservative) and L (ditto “Liberal”) placed “inside” CAVE (i.e. “underground chamber”), like so: CON-C(L)AVE.

43. Have riches perhaps in a vault (6)

Answer: ABOUND. Solution satisfies “have riches perhaps” and “a vault”, as in a leap or A BOUND.

44. Doing well in Duke of Milan’s university (10)

Answer: PROSPEROUS (i.e. “doing well”). Solution is PROSPERO’S (i.e. “Duke of Milan’s”, as in Prospero, the protagonist of Shakespeare’s The Tempest) with U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) placed “in” it like so: PROSPERO(U)S.

45. Saw things in Société Ethnologique? (5)

Answer: TEETH (i.e. “saw things” – a nice bit of wordplay that made me smile when I got it.) “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: SOCIE(TE ETH)NOLOGIQUE.

48. Musical flourish modified signals at party (9)

Answer: GLISSANDO (i.e. “musical flourish”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “modified”) of SIGNALS followed by DO (i.e. “party”), like so: GLISSAN-DO. I often moan when musical terms are used as solutions as there are bloody thousands of the things, but, unusually, this was one I actually recognised.

49. Happy home deity to constrain old ghosts (2,4,7)

Answer: IN GOOD SPIRITS (i.e. “happy”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”) and GOD (i.e. “deity”) “constraining” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), then followed by SPIRITS (i.e. “ghosts”), like so: IN-GO(O)D-SPIRITS.

51. European move abroad to unseat good foreign government (7)

Answer: EMIRATE (i.e. “foreign government”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) followed by MIGRATE (i.e. “move abroad”) with the G removed (i.e. “to unseat good” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: E-MIRATE.

52. Barker grabbing little Mexican food (7)

Answer: TOSTADA, which is a fried tortilla (i.e. “Mexican food”). Solution is TOSA (which is a Japanese mastiff, i.e. “barker” – did a Google Image search – meh, random) “grabbing” TAD (i.e. “little”), like so: TOS(TAD)A. A bit of a stinker, this one.

53. Eastern sea creature shedding tail in Spring (7)

Answer: EMANATE (i.e. “[to] spring” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”) followed by MANATEE (i.e. “sea creature”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “shedding tail”), like so: E-MANATE.

54. Cosmetic procedure for legendary friar (4)

Answer: TUCK. Solution satisfies “cosmetic procedure” and “legendary friar”.

55. Strict at all times in case of sabotage (6)

Answer: SEVERE (i.e. “strict”). Solution is EVER (i.e. “at all times”) placed “in” SE (i.e. “case of sabotage”, i.e. the first and last letters of “sabotage”), like so: S(EVER)E.

56. Closer minders so upset with order to protect stronghold (11)

Answer: DOORKEEPERS (i.e. “closer minders” – clumsy, but it passes). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “upset”) of SO and ORDER, “protecting” KEEP (i.e. “stronghold”), like so: DOOR(KEEP)ERS.

Down clues

1. Leading vehicle has to complete with top retracted (4,3)

Answer: PACE CAR (i.e. “leading vehicle”). Solution is RACE (i.e. “to compete”) and CAP (i.e. “top”) all reversed (indicated by “retracted”), like so: PAC-ECAR.

2. Potential trouble coming from deranged relatives son supports (6,5)

Answer: BANANA SKINS (i.e. “potential trouble”). Solution is BANANAS (i.e. “deranged”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”).

3. God is here ultimately to provide uplift (5)

Answer: RAISE (i.e. “uplift”). Solution is RA (i.e. “god”, specifically the ancient Egyptian sun god) followed by IS and then E (i.e. “here ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “here”).

4. Whale epithet also adapted for this football chant? (3,3,3,3,4)

Answer: WHO ATE ALL THE PIES (i.e. “football chant”). “Adapted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WHALE EPITHET ALSO. A rather well-worked clue.

5. The writer’s regret about old city’s corrupt constituent (8)

Answer: IMPURITY (i.e. “corrupt constituent”). Solution is I’M (i.e. “the writer’s”, a contraction of “the writer is” rather than the possessive form; think of this from the point of view of the setter) followed by PITY (i.e. “regret”) placed “about” UR (i.e. “old city”, specifically one in ancient Mesopotamia), like so: IM-P(UR)ITY.

6. Draws line under reason for basic principles (6,5)

Answer: GROUND RULES (i.e. “basic principles”). Solution is RULES (i.e. “draws line”) placed “under” GROUND (i.e. “reason”), this being a down clue.

7. Gather tea’s brought up in the morning (5)

Answer: AMASS (i.e. “gather”). Solution is ASSAM (a variety of “tea”) with the AM (i.e. “in the morning”) “brought up” to the front. This was a solution that took considerably less time to get than the wordplay leading up to it!

8. Demand huge amount to power our planet? (6,3,5)

Answer: CHARGE THE EARTH. Solution satisfies both “demand huge amount” and “to power our planet”.

9. Style shown by Labour’s leader in European city (6)

Answer: DUBLIN (i.e. “European city”). Solution is DUB (i.e. “style”) followed “by” L (i.e. “Labour’s leader”, i.e. the first letter of “Labour”) and then IN, like so: DUB-L-IN.

11. Jogger encountered on the Champs Elysées? (4-7)

Answer: AIDE-MÉMOIRE, which is a reminder or something that “jogs” the memory. Solution riffs on how this is a French phrase, as hinted at by “on the Champs Elysées”.

12. Regressive boy wrecked last old reformatory (7)

Answer: BORSTAL (i.e. “old reformatory”). Solution is ROB (i.e. “boy” – I guess in the context of the solution it couldn’t really be “man”) which is reversed (indicated by “regressive”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “wrecked”) of LAST, like so: BOR-STAL.

13. One going aloft in ship under the wind (8)

Answer: AIRLINER (i.e. “one going aloft”). Solution is LINER (i.e. “ship”) placed “under” AIR (i.e. “wind”), this being a down clue, like so: AIR-LINER.

20. Almost endure consuming American spread (7)

Answer: SUFFUSE (i.e. “spread”). Solution is SUFFER (i.e. “endure”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and the remainder “consuming” US (i.e. “American”), like so: SUFF(US)E.

22. A bit of a laugh with one in credit control meeting (5)

Answer: CHAIR (i.e. “[to] control meeting”). Solution is HA (i.e. “a bit of a laugh”) “with” I (Roman numeral “one”) placed “in” CR (a recognised abbreviation of “credit”), like so: C(HA-I)R.

24. Worker at lodge stores wood and food (11,5)

Answer: PORTERHOUSE STEAK, which is broadly similar to a T-bone steak (i.e. “food”). Solution is PORTER (i.e. “worker at lodge”) followed by HOUSES (i.e. “stores”) and TEAK (i.e. “wood”).

25. Novel touching and useless because without chapter (7)

Answer: REBECCA, a “novel” by Daphne Du Maurier. This was a solution I guessed right at the beginning and only sussed the wordplay towards the end. Weird. Anyway, the solution is RE (i.e. “touching [upon]” or regarding) followed by BECAUSE without the USE (i.e. “useless”) which is then wrapped around or “without” C (a recognised abbreviation of “chapter”), like so: RE-BEC(C)A.

27. Too much here to be taken out of context – remember? (7)

Answer: EXTREME (i.e. “too much”). “To be taken out of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: CONT(EXT REME)MBER.

28. Trouble with heart? Here’s comfort in retirement! (3-5,6)

Answer: HOT-WATER BOTTLE (i.e. “comfort in retirement”, as in going to bed). Solution is HOT WATER (i.e. “trouble”) followed by BOTTLE (i.e. “heart”, as in courage).

31. Loss expert acting as receiver for chemical company (7)

Answer: DEFICIT (i.e. “loss”). Solution is DEFT (i.e. “expert”) “receiving” ICI (an old “chemical company”, specifically Imperial Chemical Industries), like so: DEF(ICI)T.

33. Admitting nothing in crash, I paid out for other driver (11)

Answer: APHRODISIAC (i.e. a “driver” for a bit of the “other”, nudge, nudge). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “out”) of CRASH I PAID “admitting” O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: APHR(O)DISIAC.

35. Large American trucks transporting new phones (5)

Answer: RINGS (i.e. “phones”). Solution is RIGS (i.e. “large American trucks”) “transporting” N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: RI(N)GS.

36. Cautious taking dangerous bends (2,4,5)

Answer: ON ONES GUARD (i.e. “cautious”). Solution is ON (i.e. “taking”, though an example of this doesn’t spring immediately to mind) followed by an anagram (indicated by “bends”) of DANGEROUS.
[EDIT: Check out the comments, where Michael gives a good explanation of how ON is derived.]

38. Serious in backing learned person to become an idol (6,5)

Answer: GRAVEN IMAGE (i.e. “idol”). Solution is GRAVE (i.e. “serious”) followed by IN which is reversed (indicated by “backing”) and then MAGE (i.e. “learned person”), like so: GRAVE-NI-MAGE.

40. No sailor alights on isle (8)

Answer: LANDSMAN, which is someone with no seafaring experience (i.e. “no sailor”). Solution is LANDS (i.e. “alights”) followed by MAN (i.e. “isle”, as in the Isle of Man).

42. Mountain pass on ring road constructed in state (8)

Answer: COLORADO (i.e. “[US] state”). Solution is COL (i.e. “mountain pass”) followed by O (i.e. “ring”) and an anagram (indicated by “constructed”) of ROAD, like so: COL-O-RADO.

43. Add to men relieving us in some 31 days? (7)

Answer: AUGMENT (i.e. “add to”). Solution is AUGUST (i.e. “some 31 days”) “relieved of” US and replaced with MEN.

46. Society girl pursuing house party organiser (7)

Answer: HOSTESS (i.e. “party organiser”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) and TESS (i.e. “girl”) “pursuing” or placed after HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”), like so: HO-S-TESS.

47. Belong essentially out there? On the contrary! (6)

Answer: INHERE (i.e. “belong”). Solution riffs on “in here” being “contrary” to, “out there”.

49. Children that may be taken where there’s disagreement? (5)

Answer: ISSUE. Solution satisfies both “children” and “that may be taken when there’s disagreement”, as in “to take issue with something”.

50. Absurd and mad to toss away shilling (5)

Answer: INANE (i.e. “absurd”). Solution is INSANE (i.e. “mad”) after “tossing away” S (a recognised abbreviation of “shilling”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1374

Another easy puzzle this week, but also another with several clues I rather liked for their clever construction or how well they scanned. The only blot here is the re-emergence of several solutions from recent puzzles, including one that was essentially a direct copy. I know The Times uses software to generate certain puzzles (which, weirdly, is why you’ll find the word “moist” appearing an uncomfortable number of times in the top-right corner of their Codeword puzzles), but I keep alive the hope they aren’t doing the same here. Still, it makes you wonder. Anyway, wanging aside, you’ll find my completed solution below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

Before we get there, some distractions. If you’d like to see solutions for the last couple dozen Times Jumbo Cryptics, go to my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction is your thing (or a guilty pleasure) then I’m currently working through the long-running Best New Horror series, which you can jump to on my Reviews page. Feel free to leave a comment. I moderate them mainly to keep out the spammers, but I’ll let anything genuine through.

And so, to my solution. Laters, taters.

LP

Across clues

1. Side holding power in a splinter group (6)

Answer: ASPECT (i.e. “side”). Solution is A SECT (i.e. “a splinter group”) “holding” P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”), like so: A-S(P)ECT.

4. Underworld boss having mobile that goes on by itself (10)

Answer: PERSEPHONE, who, in Greek mythology, was queen of the underworld (i.e. “underworld boss”). Solution is PER SE (Latin for “by itself”) followed by PHONE (i.e. “mobile”).

10. Go to form new colony as part of vicious war, maybe (5)

Answer: SWARM (i.e. “go to form new colony”). “As part of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: VICIOU(S WAR M)AYBE.

14. Getting hump somehow in ordeal is characteristic of success (9)

Answer: TRIUMPHAL (i.e. “characteristic of success”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of HUMP “getting…in” TRIAL (i.e. “ordeal”), like so: TRI(UMPH)AL.

15. Strange edict about one article after another penned by relative is shown to be true (13)

Answer: AUTHENTICATED (i.e. “shown to be true”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “strange”) of EDICT placed around A (i.e. an “article”), which is then placed “after” THE (“another [article]”) once it has been “penned” by AUNT (i.e. “relative”), like so: AU(THE)NT-IC(A)TED.

16. Refuse to admit learner that’s less developed (7)

Answer: LITTLER (i.e. “less developed”). Solution is LITTER (i.e. “refuse”, as in garbage) “admitting” L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”), like so: LITT(L)ER.

17. On foot, it provides quick cover (7)

Answer: TOENAIL. The sensitive flesh beneath one’s fingernails and toenails is the quick, which is why you might hear of someone biting their fingernails down to the quick. On a foot, the toenail can be said to be “quick cover”. I actually groaned when I got this, but I have to admit this is a great clue.

18. Cruciverbalist’s last kind of wordplay, having put out third puzzle (7)

Answer: TANGRAM, a Chinese “puzzle” being seven tiles of assorted geometric shapes which, when correctly placed, form a square. You’ll know it when you see it. Solution is T (i.e. “cruciverbalist’s last”, i.e. the last letter of “cruciverbalist”) followed by ANAGRAM (i.e. “kind of wordplay”) with the “third [letter] put out”, like so: T-ANGRAM. Another good clue, this.

19. Avoiding offence, in a way – like copper, initially (11,7)

Answer: POLITICALLY CORRECT (i.e. “avoiding offence, in a way”). Solution riffs on how this phrase is often abbreviated as “PC”, which is also “like copper, initially” i.e. a Police Constable.

21. Behave like obsequious dog or other little animal (4)

Answer: FAWN. Solution satisfies both “behave like obsequious dog” and “little animal”, i.e. a baby deer.

24. Decide not to run with small old-fashioned weapon (5)

Answer: SPIKE. In the parlance of newspaper editors (according to my Chambers, anyway), a rejected article is said to be spiked (i.e. “decide not to run”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by PIKE (i.e. “old-fashioned weapon”).

26. Investor finally compensated, holding current issued shares (8)

Answer: RATIONED (i.e. “issued shares”). Solution is R (i.e. “investor finally”, i.e. the last letter of “investor”) followed by ATONED (i.e. “compensated”) “holding” I (a recognised abbreviation of an electric “current”), like so: R-AT(I)ONED.

27. Make from sale, having also included promotional activity (8)

Answer: BRANDING (i.e. “promotional activity”). Not sure about this one, so watch out. My solution is BRING, which I’m guessing is “make from sale”, though I can’t quite visualise this, which is “having” AND (i.e. “also included”), like so: BR(AND)ING. Rather a clunky clue if that’s the case.

29. Result of making name for oneself as fighter (3,2,6)

Answer: NOM DE GUERRE, which is an assumed name (i.e. “making name for oneself”). In French, the solution translates as “war name”. Centuries ago such war names would be given to new recruits to the French army, hence “as fighter”.

30. What can be got from what’s in menu, in short (11)

Answer: NOURISHMENT. Within the context of the clue, nourishment is indeed “what can be got from what’s in menu”. “What can be got from” also indicates an anagram of MENU IN SHORT.

32. Rock group worth breaking up? Not so far (6,5)

Answer: STONES THROW (i.e. “not so far”). Solution is The Rolling STONES (i.e. “rock group”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “breaking up”) of WORTH, like so: STONES-THROW.

35. Cut back – result of freeze, say – in authoritarian regime (6,5)

Answer: POLICE STATE (i.e. “authoritarian regime”). Solution is LOP (i.e. “cut”) reversed (indicated by “back”), then followed by ICE (i.e. “result of freeze”) and STATE (i.e. “say”), like so: POL-ICE-STATE.

37. Respite, as European is accepted by British fairly (8)

Answer: BREATHER (i.e. “respite”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European” you’ll see used a few times in this puzzle – tsk, all these Europeans coming over here stealing our abbreviations… #satire) placed in B (ditto “British”) and RATHER (i.e. “fairly”), like so: B-R(E)ATHER.

39. Bad fortune besetting European – score reduced by six (8)

Answer: FOURTEEN (i.e. “score reduced by six”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bad”) of FORTUNE “besetting” E (a recognised abbreviation of “European” – see what I mean?), like so: FOURT(E)EN.

40. Something outstanding about university’s appearance initially (5)

Answer: DEBUT (i.e. “appearance initially”). Solution is DEBT (i.e. “something outstanding”) placed “about” U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”), like so: DEB(U)T.

43. What’s the matter with intelligence? Poet’s pronouncement (4)

Answer: GREY. Solution satisfies “what’s the [grey] matter with intelligence” and “poet’s pronouncement”, i.e. a homophone of Thomas Gray.

44. It’s half a world away from where we are here (8,10)

Answer: SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE. In the context of the clue, and given The Times is a UK newspaper, the southern hemisphere is indeed “half a world” away.

47. Improperly dispensed upscale form of medication (7)

Answer: CAPSULE (i.e. “form of medication”). “Improperly dispensed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of UPSCALE.

48. Fruit was revolting with it (7)

Answer: ROSEHIP (i.e. “fruit” of the rose plant). Solution is ROSE (i.e. “revolting”, as in “rose up”) followed by HIP (i.e. “with it”, as in cool, daddio).

50. King protected by subjects in heated situations (7)

Answer: TROPICS (i.e. “heated situations”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation for “king”, specifically Rex) “protected” by TOPICS (i.e. “subjects”), like so: T(R)OPICS.

51. Enjoying, for example, cricket? Over count is repeatedly revised (13)

Answer: INSECTIVOROUS (i.e. “enjoying, say, cricket”, as in the insect). “Revised” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OVER COUNT IS and IS (i.e. “is repeatedly”). Another clue I rather liked.

52. Fifteenth century house in city (9)

Answer: LANCASTER. Solution satisfies both “fifteenth century house”, as in the House of Lancaster, which have us a bunch of King Henrys in the fifteenth century, and “house in city”, as in Lancaster House, a mansion found in London.

53. In peculiar way, how swindler is selected for side? (5)

Answer: ODDLY (i.e. “in a peculiar way”). I’ve precisely no idea what the rest of the clue is getting at.

54. Full of amazement since a lot of weight I lost (10)

Answer: ASTONISHED (i.e. “full of amazement”). Solution is AS (i.e. “since”) followed by TON (i.e. “a lot of weight”) and I SHED (i.e. “I lost”).

55. Oblivion achieved ultimately in drink in this? (6)

Answer: BENDER. Solution is N and D (i.e. “oblivion achieved ultimately”, i.e. the last letters of “oblivion” and “achieved”) placed “in” BEER (i.e. “drink”), like so: BE(ND)ER. Within the context of the clue, going on a bender is to drink to excess, in which case oblivion may well be achieved. The beer monster in me approves.

Down clues

1. Wild animals run into stakes (9)

Answer: ANTELOPES (i.e. “wild animals”). Solution is LOPE (which is to “run” with long strides) placed “into” ANTES (i.e. “stakes”), like so: ANTE(LOPE)S.

2. Painters initially list oil in mixed medium art technique (11)

Answer: POINTILLISM (i.e. “art technique”). Solution is P (i.e. “painters initially”, i.e. the first letter of “painters”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “mixed”) of LIST OIL IN and then M (a recognised abbreviation of “medium” used in clothing sizes), like so: P-OINTILLIS-M.

3. Left in piece of jewellery on time for royal court (7)

Answer: CAMELOT! CAMELOT! CAMELOT! (It’s only a model.) I’ve been waiting over a thousand words to type that! Anyway, “royal court”. Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed in CAMEO (i.e. “piece of jewellery”) and followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: CAME(L)O-T. Tis a silly place.

5. Report written up about century, brilliant effort (5)

Answer: ECLAT, which is showy splendour or distinction (i.e. “brilliant effort”). Solution is TALE (i.e. “report”) reversed (indicated by “written up”, this being a down clue) and placed “about” C (a recognised abbreviation of “century”), like so: E(C)LAT. Seems a handy word for setters, as this solution also appeared back in January.

6. House of Lords, perhaps, having ethos tamely changed (7,4)

Answer: STATELY HOME (i.e. “house of lords, perhaps” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). “Changed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ETHOS TAMELY.

7. Confuse pagan with theory of ancient philosophy (11)

Answer: PYTHAGOREAN (i.e. “ancient philosophy”). “Confuse” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PAGAN and THEORY. Sound familiar? It should because a near carbon-copy of this clue also appeared a fortnight ago. My heart sank when I solved this first, as I thought we were in for another Greatest Hits puzzle. It’s a little suspicious that the same, not-entirely-everyday word appears twice in as many weeks, though, isn’t it?

8. See way to support past master, above all (8)

Answer: OVERLORD (i.e. “master above all”). Solution is LO (i.e. “see”, as in “lo and behold”) and RD (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “road” used in street names) “supporting” or following OVER (i.e. “past”), like so: OVER-LO-RD.

9. Motor vehicle, say, in competition overturned (6,3)

Answer: ESTATE CAR (i.e. “motor vehicle”). Solution is STATE (i.e. “say”) placed “in” RACE (i.e. “competition”) reversed (indicated by “overturned”), like so: E(STATE)CAR.

10. Behind one’s back (6)

Answer: SECOND. Solution satisfies “behind” (as in to second a motion, for example) and “one’s back” (as in one’s second).

11. Later adjusted temperature in simple option (11)

Answer: ALTERNATIVE (i.e. “option”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “adjusted”) of LATER followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) placed “in” NAÏVE (i.e. “simple”), like so: ALTER-NA(T)IVE.

12. Subject of most original palindrome? (5)

Answer: In the famous “palindrome” Madam, I’m Adam, MADAM would be the “subject” to whom the palindrome is directed. Not quite sure where the “most original” bit comes into it, if I’m honest.

13. Current malfunction in LA? (5,7)

Answer: SHORT CIRCUIT (i.e. “current malfunction”). Solution also satisfies “LA”, as in the word “lap” – another word for “circuit” – being cut short.

20. Scholarly American’s volume found on a railway (8)

Answer: LITERARY (i.e. “scholarly”). Solution is LITER (i.e. “American’s volume”, as in the US spelling of “litre”) placed “on” A and RY (a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: LITER-A-RY.

22. Female article of clothing close, along with male one (7)

Answer: NIGHTIE (i.e. “female article of clothing”). Solution is NIGH (i.e. “close”) and TIE (i.e. “male one”, as in a male article of clothing). Another solution that has featured recently.

23. Motivated in this way with drug, in conclusion (8)

Answer: ENTHUSED (i.e. “motivated”). Solution is THUS (i.e. “in this way”) and E (i.e. “drug”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “ecstasy”) placed “in” END (i.e. “conclusion”), like so: EN(THUS-E)D.

25. Take part in novel event held after ten (8)

Answer: ELEVENTH (i.e. “after ten”). “Take part in” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NOV(EL EVENT H)ELD.

28. One seeing what’s going to be charged for sweet (5,3)

Answer: BULLS EYE (i.e. a “sweet”). In the context of the clue, a bull would use their eye to see what they are going to charge towards. I rather liked the humour here. Well played.

29. What contains primarily oats, say, easily being consumed by horse? (7)

Answer: NOSEBAG. Solution is NAG (i.e. “horse”) “consuming” O S E and B (i.e. “primarily oats, say, easily being”, i.e. the first letters of “oats”, “say”, “easily” and “being”), like so: N(O-S-E-B)AG. Within the context of the clue, a nosebag may indeed contain oats for a horse. Another good ‘un.

31. Popular with constituents, including female relative that’s erratic (12)

Answer: INCONSISTENT (i.e. “erratic”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by CONTENT (i.e. “constituents”) “including” SIS (i.e. “female relative”, short for “sister”), like so: IN-CON(SIS)TENT.

33. Given too much publicity about European vote presented (11)

Answer: OVEREXPOSED (i.e. “given too much publicity”). Solution is OVER (i.e. “about”, as in, for example, “crying over spilt milk”) followed by E (our old friend, a recognised abbreviation for “European”) then X (i.e. “vote”) and POSED (i.e. “presented”), like so: OVER-E-X-POSED.

34. Golf clubs holding English Open, finally – competitors don’t want it (6,5)

Answer: WOODEN SPOON (i.e. “competitors don’t want it”). Solution is WOOD and SPOON (i.e. “golf clubs” – a spoon is an obsolete golf club; we had a brassie the other week, so why not) “holding” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and N (i.e. “open, finally”, i.e. the last letter of “open”), like so: WOOD-(E-N)-SPOON.

35. Reduce new academic work that immediately follows this (11)

Answer: PARENTHESIS. Solution is PARE (i.e. “reduce”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and THESIS (i.e. “academic work”). In the context of the clue, a parenthesis does indeed immediately follow, being wrapped around the (11). Another clue I liked.

36. Moderated about one part of speech being held up, in short (11)

Answer: ABBREVIATED (i.e. “in short”). Solution is ABATED (i.e. “moderated”) placed “about” I (Roman numeral “one”) and VERB (i.e. “part of speech”) reversed (indicated by “being held up”, this being a down clue), like so: AB(BREV-I)ATED.

38. Specialized publications I create so cryptically (9)

Answer: ESOTERICA (i.e. “specialized publications”). “Cryptically” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I CREATE SO.

41. Manager of funds changed rate with more confidence (9)

Answer: TREASURER (i.e. “manager of funds”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “changed”) of RATE followed by SURER (i.e. “more confident”), like so: TREA-SURER. Another Greatest Hit, this solution only appearing last week!

42. Sailor aboard sturdy launch (5,3)

Answer: START OUT (i.e. “launch”). Solution is TAR (a word for “sailor” often favoured by crossword setters) put “aboard” STOUT (i.e. “sturdy”), like so: S(TAR)TOUT.

45. Liable to embrace sweet girl, initially, being vulgar (7)

Answer: PROFANE (i.e. “vulgar”). Solution is PRONE (i.e. “liable to”) “embracing” FA (i.e. “sweet girl, initially” – this took some figuring out, but this refers to Sweet Fanny Adams, which is often abbreviated to “Sweet FA”), like so: PRO(FA)NE. I rather liked the recursiveness of this, given how “Sweet FA” is often used for a certain well-known profanity.

46. Forceful or pitifully weak about check (6)

Answer: PUNCHY (i.e. “forceful”). Solution is PUNY (i.e. “pitifully weak”) placed about CH (a recognised abbreviation of “check” used in chess), like so: PUN(CH)Y.

47. Capital in company affected by inflation? (5)

Answer: CAIRO (i.e. “capital [of Egypt]”). Solution is CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”) with AIR placed inside (i.e. “affected by inflation”, like filling a balloon), like so: C(AIR)O. Another one that made me smile when I figured it out.

49. Cry holding son giving sign of life (5)

Answer: PULSE (i.e. “sign of life”). Solution is PULE, which is to whimper or whine (i.e. “cry”), “holding” S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”), like so: PUL(S)E.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1373

This week’s puzzle was rather a good one, in my less-than-humble opinion. Though it perhaps sat on the easier end of the difficulty scale, there were a number of clues that scanned really well, and a handful that could be rather prescient in these uncertain times.

As ever, a little housekeeping before we tuck in. You can find a bunch of previous solutions on my Just For Fun page, if that appeals. I’m currently working through reviews of each volume of Best New Horror, which you can find on my Reviews page. Only twenty-six more to go! Finally, if you’d like to leave a comment, please do so. Comments are moderated to avoid (mainly Russian) spam littering the blog, but I’ll approve anything genuine, good or bad.

Right then. To the solution!

LP

Across clues

1. Mobile cadre has to sharpen up after pressure (4,5)

Answer: CELL PHONE (i.e. “mobile”). Solution is CELL (as in a unit group, i.e. “cadre”) and HONE (i.e. “sharpen up”) preceded by P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”), like so: CELL-P-HONE.

6. Teetotal, so endure losing alcohol at first (5)

Answer: SOBER (i.e. “teetotal”). Solution is SO then BEAR (i.e. “endure”) with the A removed (i.e. “losing alcohol at first”, i.e. losing the first letter of “alcohol”), like so: SO-BER.

9. Let blood without expression of surprise in medical (5-2)

Answer: CHECK-UP (i.e. “medical”). Solution is CUP (i.e. “let blood” – one of the variant meanings of “cup” is to draw the blood to the surface of the skin using cupping-glasses for the purposes of bloodletting) with HECK (i.e. “expression of surprise”) placed “without” it, like so: C(HECK)UP.

13. Fabric care including European backing (5)

Answer: DENIM (i.e. “fabric”). Solution is MIND (i.e. “care”) “including” E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: D(E)NIM.

14. Incense is permissible during show (7)

Answer: PROVOKE (i.e. “[to] incense”). Solution is OK (i.e. “permissible”) placed “during” PROVE (i.e. “[to] show”), like so: PROV(OK)E.

15. What some put in encyclopedia for English? (9)

Answer: DIPHTHONG, which is a two-vowel sound pronounced as one syllable. Within the context of the clue, it details how the diphthong “ae” could replace the final E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) in “encyclopedia” to obtain the variant spelling “encyclopaedia”.

16. Giving up job, reasoning it is tricky (11)

Answer: RESIGNATION (i.e. “giving up job”). “Tricky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of REASONING IT.

17. Southern US soldier left amid deceased is unhappy (11)

Answer: DISGRUNTLED (i.e. “unhappy”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”), GRUNT (i.e. “US soldier”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed “amid” DIED (i.e. “deceased”), like so: DI(S-GRUNT-L)ED. I’m often reminded of P.G. Wodehouse when I see this word. To quote: “I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled”. Still makes me laugh.

18. Sacred creature, primarily Egyptian? (6)

Answer: SCARAB, the sacred beetle of the Ancient Egyptians. Solution comprises S and C (i.e. “sacred creature, primarily”, i.e. the first letters of “sacred” and “creature”) followed by ARAB (i.e. “Egyptian”), like so: S-C-ARAB. A good clue, this.

19. Find out about how some cook steak in radiation (8)

Answer: INFRARED (i.e. “radiation”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “out”) of FIND placed “about” RARE (i.e. “how some cook steak”), like so: INF(RARE)D.

21. Stones needing good composer (6)

Answer: GRAVEL (i.e. “stones”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by Maurice RAVEL (i.e. “composer” – him wot done Bolero, like).

25. Topless partygoer grew old and developed mean values (8)

Answer: AVERAGED (i.e. “developed mean values”). Solution is RAVER (i.e. “partygoer”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “topless”) and followed by AGED (i.e. “grew old”), like so: AVER-AGED.

26. Words reported in court about terrible language (8,6)

Answer: INDIRECT SPEECH (i.e. “words reported”, as in “he said such-and-such”). Solution is IN and CT (a recognised abbreviation of “court”) placed “about” DIRE (i.e. “terrible”) and followed by SPEECH (i.e. “language”), like so: IN-(DIRE)-CT-SPEECH.

28. The French hail Brexit’s aim (5)

Answer: LEAVE (i.e. “Brexit’s aim”). Solution is LE (i.e. “the French” – the French for “the” is “le”) followed by AVE (i.e. “hail”, as in a greeting).

29. Is able to go quickly, but not a pace near a gallop (6)

Answer: CANTER (i.e. “pace near a gallop”). Solution is CAN (i.e. “is able to”) followed by TEAR (i.e. “go quickly”) with the A removed (indicated by “but not a”), like so: CAN-TER.

30. After Tiger beer, perhaps, tons in photo can be in a stiff trance (10)

Answer: CATALEPTIC (i.e. “in a stiff trance”). Solution is CAT (i.e. “tiger”) and ALE (i.e. “beer”) followed by PIC (i.e. “photo”) wrapped around T (a recognised abbreviation of “tons”), like so: CAT-ALE-P(T)IC.

33. Fish’s batter used for waffle? (10)

Answer: CODSWALLOP (i.e. “waffle”). Solution is COD’S (i.e. “fish’s”) followed by WALLOP (i.e. “[to] batter”).

35. Bird that sings in America during quiet (6)

Answer: THRUSH (i.e. “bird that sings”). Solution is THRU (i.e. “America during” – as in a variant form of “through” popularly used in America) followed by SH (i.e. “quiet”).

36. Violent expulsion from power by press (5)

Answer: PURGE (i.e. “violent expulsion”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) followed by URGE (i.e. “[to] press”).

38. Sign railway added to line finishing in centre of Reading? (7,7)

Answer: LENDING LIBRARY (i.e. “centre of reading” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is LIBRA (i.e. “sign [of the zodiac]”) and RY (a recognised abbreviation of “railway”) which is “added to” L (ditto “line”) and ENDING (i.e. “finishing”), like so: L-ENDING-LIBRA-RY.

40. Station using track from Sweden (8)

Answer: WATERLOO. Solution satisfies both “[London train] station” and “track from Sweden” (i.e. the hit choon by ABBA).

42. Instructions for sellers, initially on cheese (6)

Answer: BRIEFS (i.e. “instructions”). Solution is F and S (i.e. “for sellers, initially”, i.e. the first letters of “for” and “sellers”) placed “on” BRIE (i.e. “cheese”), like so: BRIE-F-S.

43. Boats seen plying in delta lagoons? (8)

Answer: GONDOLAS (i.e. “boats”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “plying”) of LAGOONS and D (i.e. “delta” in the phonetic alphabet).

44. Low bar has right to offer entertainment (6)

Answer: DIVERT (i.e. “to entertain”). Solution is DIVE (i.e. “[a] low bar”, as in “this place is such a dive”) followed by RT (a recognised abbreviation of “right” e.g. in the title Rt Hon, for Right Honourable).

47. In high state, queen wearing fashionable fur is unbeatable (11)

Answer: INSUPERABLE (i.e. “unbeatable”). Solution is UP (i.e. “high state”) and ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) “wearing” IN (i.e. “fashionable”) and SABLE (i.e. “fur”), like so: IN-S(UP-ER)ABLE.

50. Art style gets involuntary response in Catholicism (11)

Answer: ROMANTICISM (i.e. “art style”). Solution is ROMANISM (i.e. “Catholicism”) “getting” TIC (i.e. “involuntary response”), like so: ROMAN(TIC)ISM.

52. Unusual approach about unknown odd books (9)

Answer: APOCRYPHA (i.e. “odd books”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unusual”) of APPROACH placed “about” Y (i.e. “unknown” – setters like using this to represent X, Y, or Z in their solutions), like so: APOCR(Y)PHA.

53. Deadlock that is besetting parliamentarian fool (7)

Answer: IMPASSE (i.e. “deadlock”). Solution is IE (i.e. “that is”) “besetting” MP (i.e. “parliamentarian”) and ASS (i.e. “fool”), like so: I(MP-ASS)E. Another clue that made me smile, especially given the chimp’s tea party we have for a parliament these days.

54. Frequently relent, letting son go (5)

Answer: OFTEN (i.e. “frequently”). Solution is SOFTEN (i.e. “relent”) with the S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) “let go”.

55. Spa vessel? Need this to be clean (7)

Answer: BATHTUB (i.e. “spa vessel”). Within the context of the clue, you would rather hope the bathtubs in a spa were clean. Unless they’re filled with muck, I guess. Or tofu. Or whatever is deemed cleansing these days.

56. Small cat, not male, gets rather wet (5)

Answer: SOGGY (i.e. “rather wet”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by MOGGY (i.e. “cat”) with the M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) removed.

57. Re-arrest university’s corrupt bursar (9)

Answer: TREASURER (i.e. “bursar”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “corrupt”) of REARREST and U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”).

Down clues

1. What’s back in favour – a deciduous tree (5)

Answer: CEDAR (i.e. “tree”). “In” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, while “back” indicates that the solution is reversed, like so: FAVOU(R A DEC)IDUOUS.

2. Add green acres plan? I could arrange it (9,8)

Answer: LANDSCAPE GARDENER. “Arrange it” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ADD GREEN ACRES PLAN. As you can see, the solution rather fits within the context of the clue. I liked this one a lot. Well played, setter.

3. Small dog, for instance, raced and consumed fruit (11)

Answer: POMEGRANATE (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is POM (i.e. “small dog”, specifically a shortened form of pomfret – a breed of dog that setters like using in their solutions, if you’ll forgive the pun) followed by EG (i.e. “for instance”) then RAN (i.e. “raced”) and ATE (i.e. “consumed”), like so: POM-EG-RAN-ATE.

4. On oath regularly for returning child all alone (6)

Answer: ORPHAN (i.e. “child all alone”). “Regularly” suggests part of the solution can be derived from every other letter of ON OATH. This is then followed by PRO (i.e. “for”). The whole lot is then reversed, indicated by “returning”, like so: ORP-HAN.

5. Turning to me, one touching son’s strong feelings (8)

Answer: EMOTIONS (i.e. “strong feelings”). Solution is TO ME reversed (indicated by “turning”), then followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) then ON (i.e. “touching”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”), like so: (EM-OT)-I-ON-S.

6. Lorna enrages upset wealthy socialite (6,6)

Answer: SLOANE RANGER (i.e. a term for “wealthy socialite” coined in the mid-1970s). “Upset” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LORNA ENRAGES.

7. Pacific crop with cash benefit (10)

Answer: BREADFRUIT (i.e. “Pacific crop”). Solution is BREAD (i.e. “cash”) and FRUIT (i.e. “benefit”).

8. Bachelor avoiding marrying women goes on (5)

Answer: RIDES (i.e. “goes on”). Solution is BRIDES (i.e. “marrying women”) with the B (a recognised abbreviation of “bachelor”) removed.

9. Protected ape immediately (9)

Answer: COPYRIGHT (i.e. “protected”). Solution is COPY (i.e. “ape”) then RIGHT (i.e. “immediately” – a weak one this, but both words can be taken to mean “direct”).

10. Fruit very quietly put into beer, chasing what consumers like? (6,5)

Answer: EATING APPLE (i.e. “fruit” – this puzzle is helping with our five-a-day, if nothing else). Solution is PP (i.e. “very quietly”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “pianissimo” used in music) “put into” ALE (i.e. “beer”), and the whole lot “chasing” EATING (i.e. “what consumers like”), like so: EATING-A(PP)LE.

11. Nearly all know Jill – with Jack, one going for hill (5)

Answer: KNOLL (i.e. “hill”). Solution is KNO (i.e. “nearly all know”) followed by JILL with the J (a recognised abbreviation of “Jack” used in cards) and I (Roman numeral “one”) “going”, like so: KNO-LL.

12. Quiet area holding a deity? (6)

Answer: PAGODA. Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” – i.e. “quiet” – used in music) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) “holding” A GOD (i.e. “a deity”). Within the context of the clue, a pagoda – an Eastern temple – may well be a quiet area holding a god. Another one I rather liked.

18. Shopping centres caught in the act of selling very little (5-5)

Answer: SMALL-SCALE (i.e. “very little”). Solution is MALLS (i.e. “shopping centres”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in assorted ball games) placed “in” SALE (i.e. “the act of selling”), like so: S(MALLS-C)ALE.

20. Inventor of myth: risen dead nearly all American (8)

Answer: DAEDALUS (i.e. “inventor of [Greek] myth”). Solution is DEAD reversed (indicated by “risen” – this being a down clue) and followed by AL (i.e. “nearly all”) and US (i.e. “American”), like so: DAED-AL-US.

22. Potential markers’ list set down under chosen exam (9,8)

Answer: ELECTORAL REGISTER (i.e. “potential markers”, as in those eligible to vote, i.e. to “mark” their ballot paper). Solution is REGISTER (i.e. “list”) placed or “set down under” ELECT (i.e. “chosen”) and ORAL (i.e. “exam”) – this being a down clue – like so: ELECT-ORAL-REGISTER. Another good one.

23. Place outside Nice rebuilt for a writer (6)

Answer: PENCIL (i.e. “writer”). Solution is PL (a recognised abbreviation of “place” used in street names) put “outside” an anagram (indicated by “rebuilt”) of NICE, like so: P(ENCI)L.

24. Be a wimp, getting confused in checkout (7,3)

Answer: CHICKEN OUT (i.e. “be a wimp”). “Getting confused” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN CHECKOUT.

27. Lacking time, talking over PA system is tiresome (8)

Answer: ANNOYING (i.e. “tiresome”). Solution is TANNOYING (i.e. “talking over PA system”) “lacking” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

31. Retreat with sheep under tree (6)

Answer: ASHRAM, which, in India, is a hermitage for a holy man (i.e. “retreat”). Solution is RAM (i.e. “sheep”) placed “under” – this being a down clue – ASH (i.e. “tree”), like so: ASH-RAM. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

32. Task round plot – nursery finally planned moves? (12)

Answer: CHOREOGRAPHY (i.e. “planned moves”). Solution is CHORE (i.e. “task”) followed by O (i.e. “round”), GRAPH (i.e. “plot”) and Y (i.e. “nursery finally”, i.e. the last letter of “nursery”), like so: CHORE-O-GRAPH-Y.

34. Thinner tie with rips is thrown out (5,6)

Answer: WHITE SPIRIT (i.e. “thinner”). “Thrown out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TIE WITH RIPS.

36. Quick dropping stone into valuable setting (11)

Answer: PRECIPITOUS (i.e. “quick[-]dropping”). Solution is PIT (i.e. “[a fruit] stone”) “set into” PRECIOUS (i.e. “valuable”), like so: PRECI(PIT)OUS.

37. Minor royal and pop singer loiter, avoiding Queen (10)

Answer: PRINCELING (i.e. “minor royal”). Solution is PRINCE (i.e. “pop singer”) followed by LINGER (i.e. “loiter”) “avoiding” (i.e. removing) ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: PRINCE-LING.

39. What’s for instance involved in cooking top grub? (9)

Answer: GASTROPUB. Solution is AS (i.e. “for instance”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “cooking”) of TOP GRUB, like so: G(AS)TROPUB. Within context of the clue, a gastropub could well be somewhere cooking top grub.

41. Second group after month finding small monkey (8)

Answer: MARMOSET (i.e. “small monkey”). Solution is MO (i.e. “second”, as in the unit of time) and SET (i.e. “group”) placed “after” MAR (a recognised abbreviation of “March”, i.e. “month”), like so: MAR-MO-SET.

45. What helps raise protection for baby around vehicle (6)

Answer: BICARB (i.e. “what helps raise [in baking]”). Solution is BIB (i.e. “protection for baby”) placed “around” CAR (i.e. “vehicle”), like so: BI(CAR)B.

46. Building an inn at last on river (6)

Answer: ANNEXE (i.e. “building”). Solution is AN then N (i.e. “inn at last”, i.e. the last letter of “inn”) followed by EXE (i.e. a “river” running through Devon).

48. Film big game expedition? (5)

Answer: SHOOT. Solution satisfies “[to] film” and “big game expedition”.

49. Metal that is not used in old-fashioned club (5)

Answer: BRASS (i.e. “metal”). Solution is BRASSIE (i.e. “old-fashioned [golf] club”, albeit one that doesn’t feature in my Chambers – your dictionary may differ) with the IE removed (i.e. “that is not used”, “that is” being another way of saying “i.e.”).

51. Number invading spoil home territory (5)

Answer: MANOR (i.e. “home territory”). Solution is NO (a recognised abbreviation of “number”) “invading” MAR (i.e. “to spoil”), like so: MA(NO)R.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1372

This was a mercifully gentler affair after last week’s horror show. My aching brain appreciates it! You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

If you have a recent puzzle knocking about for which you’d like the answers, then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. In the meantime, I’ll continue work on my review of Best New Horror 4. (You can see reviews of the first three books in my Reviews page, should you fancy a gander.)

Right then. In the immortal words of Nicolas Cage: “NOT THE BEES!” “Let’s ride”.

LP

Across clues

1. Trip merrily in dance music of the 1990s (7)

Answer: BRITPOP (i.e. “music of the 1990s”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “merrily”) of TRIP placed “in” BOP (i.e. “dance”), like so: B(RITP)OP.

5. Men pulling trains, perhaps? You’ll find them in Scotland (8)

Answer: HEBRIDES. Solution satisfies “men pulling trains, perhaps” (i.e. HE BRIDES, as oxymoronic as it sounds – “trains” being those dirty great back-ends of wedding dresses) and “you’ll find them in Scotland”.

9. Dance spotted in puzzle (6)

Answer: JIGSAW (i.e. “puzzle”). Solution is JIG (i.e. “dance”) followed by SAW (i.e. “spotted”).

13. Talc’s article wanted for such attention, in brief? (6,6,4)

Answer: TENDER LOVING CARE. Solution is TALC with the A – an article – removed (i.e. “talc’s article removed”). This gives you TLC, which is a recognised abbreviation (indicated by “in brief”) of Tender Loving Care (i.e. “attention”).

14. Party politics at sea moving ahead, so all concluding (4,2)

Answer: STAG GO (i.e. “party”). “All concluding” indicates that the solution is derived from the final letters of POLITICS AT SEA MOVING AHEAD SO.

16. Conservative PM once lacking leadership, old Con cross (8)

Answer: ORTHODOX (i.e. “conservative”, as in one’s views). Solution is Lord Frederick NORTH, British Prime Minister 1770-1782 (i.e. “PM once”) with the initial letter removed (i.e. “lacking leadership”), and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), DO (to cheat, i.e. “con”) and X (i.e. “cross”), like so: ORTH-O-DO-X.

17. Miles away from a ranch – miles away! (4)

Answer: AFAR (i.e. “miles away”). Solution is A FARM (i.e. “a ranch”) with the M removed (i.e. “miles away”, M being a recognised abbreviation of “miles”).

18. Done in accessing corner in this domestic chore (9)

Answer: HOOVERING (i.e. “domestic chore”). Solution is OVER (i.e. “done”) and IN placed in, or “accessing” HOG (i.e. “[to] corner [something]”), like so: HO(OVER-IN)G.

20. Hunk of sweetmeat? (8)

Answer: BEEFCAKE. Solution satisfies “hunk” and, cryptically, “sweetmeat” (as in a BEEF CAKE).

21. Change about a hundred for a difference (11)

Answer: ALTERCATION (which is to dispute something heatedly, i.e. “a difference”). Solution is C (Roman numeral for “a hundred”) placed in ALTERATION (i.e. “change”), like so: ALTER(C)ATION.

24. Shape central, eg quadrilateral (9)

Answer: RECTANGLE (i.e. “quadrilateral”). “Shape” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CENTRAL EG.

25. Flower, grey lines perhaps round the edge (8)

Answer: PRIMROSE (i.e. “flower”). Solution is PROSE (i.e. “grey lines perhaps” – “prose” can mean non-poetic text, or something that’s boring and grey) placed “round” RIM (i.e. “the edge”), like so: P(RIM)ROSE.

26. A welcome shower? (4)

Answer: HAIL. Solution satisfies “a welcome” and “shower”.

29. Hammer close to a bar for field event? (3,4,4)

Answer: CAR BOOT SALE (i.e. “field event”). “Hammer” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLOSE TO A BAR.

31. Details causing much head scratching? Then tough! (5-6)

Answer: NITTY-GRITTY (i.e. “details”). Solution is NITTY (i.e. “causing much head scratching”) “then” GRITTY (i.e. “tough”). A solution that appeared a few weeks ago.

33. Greek philosophy derived from pagan theory (11)

Answer: PYTHAGOREAN (i.e. “Greek philosophy”). “Derived from” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PAGAN THEORY.

36. Idle barge, one taking extra work (11)

Answer: MOONLIGHTER (i.e. “one taking extra work”). Solution is MOON (i.e. “[to] idle”) and LIGHTER (i.e. “[a] barge”).

38. Youth centres in Leicestershire and Kent (4)

Answer: TEEN (i.e. “youth”). Solution is derived from the “centres” of LeicesTErshire and KENt.

39. One criticising salesman and traveller (8)

Answer: REPROVER (i.e. “one criticising”). Solution is REP (i.e. “salesman”) followed by ROVER (i.e. “traveller”).

41. Mediator has to try and gamble – little point (2-7)

Answer: GO-BETWEEN (i.e. “mediator”). Solution is GO (i.e. “to try”) then BET (i.e. “gamble”) then WEE (i.e. “little”) and N (i.e. “point”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “north” on a compass), like so: GO-BET-WEE-N.

44. Fire at bird, producing lead (5,1,5)

Answer: BLAZE A TRAIL (i.e. “[to] lead”). Solution is BLAZE (i.e. “fire”) followed by AT and then RAIL (i.e. “bird” – did a Google Image search – meh, random).

45. Possible boiler trouble (3,5)

Answer: HOT WATER. Solution satisfies “possible boiler” (other boiling liquids may be available) and “trouble”.

48. Inspired by crude matter, newspaper producing four-letter word (9)

Answer: TETRAGRAM (i.e. “four-letter word”). Solution is RAG (i.e. “newspaper”) “inspired” into an anagram (indicated by “crude”) of MATTER, like so: TET(RAG)RAM.

49. Author unknown, all works lacking initial (4)

Answer: ANON (i.e. “author unknown”). Solution is CANON (i.e. “all works”) with the first letter removed (i.e. “lacking initial”).

50. Support overwhelming seed in West London contest? (4,4)

Answer: BOAT RACE (i.e. a “West London contest” which will be on in a couple of weeks). Solution is OAT (i.e. “seed”) being “overwhelmed” by BRACE (i.e. “support”), like so: B(OAT)RACE.

52. Backtracking southeast European runs off (6)

Answer: ELOPES (i.e. “runs off”). Solution is SE (a recognised abbreviation of “southeast”) and POLE (i.e. “European”), and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “backtracking”), like so: ELOP-ES.

53. A bigot retired with game of rugby in a mess (2,5,3,6)

Answer: AT SIXES AND SEVENS (i.e. “in a mess”). Solution is A, then SEXIST (i.e. “bigot”) reversed (indicated by “retired”), then followed by AND (i.e. “with”) and SEVENS (i.e. “game of rugby”), like so: A-TSIXES-AND-SEVENS.

54. Never what the bold show (2,4)

Answer: NO FEAR. Solution satisfies an exclamatory “never” that you don’t hear so much these days, and “what the bold show”.

55. Poets, say, in European catalogues (8)

Answer: ELEGISTS (i.e. “poets”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) placed “in” E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) and LISTS (i.e. “catalogues”), like so: E-L(EG)ISTS.

56. Weary old bowler, perhaps, trapping us (7)

Answer: EXHAUST (i.e. “weary” – though I’d question the tense here). Solution is EX-HAT (i.e. “old bowler, perhaps”) “trapping” US, like so: EX-HA(US)T.

Down clues

1. Base saw British uprising (6)

Answer: BOTTOM (i.e. “base”). Solution is MOTTO (i.e. “saw” – an alternative meaning of “saw” is a saying or phrase) and B (a recognised abbreviation of British) reversed (indicated by “uprising” – this being a down clue), like so: B-OTTOM.

2. Light lifted in fleeting image (6)

Answer: IGNITE. “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “lifted” indicates the solution is reversed, again this being a down clue, like so: FLE(ETING I)MAGE.

3. They happen to see father embracing females only, zero males (9)

Answer: PHENOMENA (i.e. “they happen to [be] see[n]”). Solution is PA (i.e. “father”) “embracing” HEN O MEN (i.e. “females only, zero males” – a bit weak, but you know what I mean), like so: P(HEN-O-MEN)A.

4. Series of cushioned blows? (6,5)

Answer: PILLOW FIGHT. Solution riffs on how one involves fighting with pillows, which, of course, are a kind of cushion. Another clue that featured in a recent puzzle.

5. Queen’s residence, where Welsh corgi ends on covers of Vogue (4)

Answer: HIVE (i.e. “queen [bee]’s residence”). Solution is H and I (i.e. “Welsh corgi ends”, i.e. the last letters of WELSH and CORGI) placed “on” VE (i.e. “covers of Vogue”, i.e. the first and last letters of “vogue”). I rather liked this clue.

6. Censorship withdrawn, intro cut from film perhaps that’s sentimental and sweet (8,3)

Answer: BANOFFEE PIE (i.e. “[a] sweet”). Solution is BAN (i.e. “censorship”) then OFF (i.e. “withdrawn”) then WEEPIE (i.e. “film perhaps that’s sentimental”) with its “intro cut”, like so: BAN-OFF-EEPIE.

7. Existence driving people? (11)

Answer: INCARNATION (i.e. “existence”). “Driving people” also suggests this may be an IN-CAR NATION.

8. Soil brilliant thing for fungus (9)

Answer: EARTHSTAR, a very cool-looking “fungus”. Solution is EARTH (i.e. “soil”) and STAR (i.e. “brilliant thing”).

10. Current fashion to stop river causing a blockage (2,3,3)

Answer: IN THE WAY (i.e. “causing a blockage”). Solution is IN (i.e. “current”) and THE WAY (i.e. “[a] fashion”). Not sure what the “to stop river” bit relates to. If you call a river a “way”, then the solution would satisfy that as well, I guess.

11. Husband, perhaps, provided in Antichrist gone mad! (11,5)

Answer: SIGNIFICANT OTHER (i.e. “husband, perhaps”). Solution is IF (i.e. “provided”, as in “you can do something provided you do something else”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “mad”) of ANTICHRIST GONE, like so: SIGN(IF)ICANTOTHER.

12. Villain picked up weapon that’s about right (5,2)

Answer: WRONG UN (i.e. “villain”). I’m not 100% sure, but I reckon the solution might be WON (i.e. “picked up”, albeit rather weakly) and GUN (i.e. “weapon”) placed “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) like so: W(R)ON-GUN.

15. Try out travels around islands popular with holidaymakers (8)

Answer: TOURISTY (i.e. “popular with holiday makers”). Solution is IS (a recognised abbreviation of “islands”) with an anagram (indicated by “travels”) of TRY OUT placed “around” it, like so: TOUR(IS)TY.

19. Material cost is cut (8)

Answer: LACERATE (i.e. “cut”). Solution is LACE (i.e. “material”) and RATE (i.e. “cost”).

22. Mad to split prize (8)

Answer: CRACKPOT (i.e. “mad”). Solution is CRACK (i.e. “to split”) and POT (i.e. “prize”).

23. Frighten – leaving one embarrassingly exposed? (5,3,5,3)

Answer: SCARE THE PANTS OFF (i.e. “frighten”). In the context of the solution, one might well be embarrassingly exposed having had their pants scared off – particularly if one has gone commando.

27. Putting down sheets, fifty certainly sound (8)

Answer: LAYERING (i.e. “putting down sheets”). Solution is L (Roman numeral for “fifty”), then AYE (i.e. an affirmatory “certainly”) and RING (i.e. “sound”).

28. Dress up for game (4)

Answer: BRAG (i.e. “[card] game”). Solution is GARB (i.e. “dress”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue).

30. Nation in love with king, perhaps (4)

Answer: OMAN (i.e. “nation”). Solution is O (i.e. “love”, i.e. a zero score in tennis) followed by MAN (i.e. “king, perhaps”).

32. Ideas, however, tactless in the extreme (8)

Answer: THOUGHTS (i.e. “ideas”). Solution is THOUGH (i.e. “however”) followed by TS (i.e. “tactless in the extreme”, i.e. the first and last letters of “tactless”).

34. Capsize transparent vessel (8)

Answer: OVERTURN (i.e. “capsize”). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “transparent”) followed by URN (i.e. “vessel”).

35. Church body doing little to contain downward acceleration, in self-contemplation (5-6)

Answer: NAVEL-GAZING (i.e. “self-contemplation”). Solution is NAVE (i.e. “church body”) followed by G (i.e. “downward acceleration”, i.e. “g”, a recognised value representing gravity in umpteen physics-based equations) “contained” by LAZING (i.e. “doing little”), like so: NAVE-L(G)AZING.

36. Tramp, prowler doffing cap, is noble (11)

Answer: MARCHIONESS (i.e. “noble”). Solution is MARCH (i.e. “tramp”) followed by LIONESS (i.e. “prowler”) without its initial letter (indicated by “doffing cap”), like so: MARCH-IONESS.

37. After party, artist has to sketch a cross (11)

Answer: LABRADOODLE (i.e. “a cross [breed of dog]”). Solution is LAB (i.e. “party”) with RA (a recognised abbreviation of “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) placed “after” it and then followed by DOODLE (i.e. “sketch”), like so: LAB-RA-DOODLE.

40. The way repairer mends a leotard with marks in it (4,5)

Answer: ROAD METAL, which are broken stones used for roads (i.e. “the way repairer”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “mends”) of A LEOTARD with M (a recognised abbreviation of “marks”, the former currency of Germany) placed “in it”, like so: ROAD(M)ETAL.

42. Ordinal with tenet that’s controversial (9)

Answer: TWENTIETH (i.e. “ordinal”). “Controversial” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WITH TENET.

43. Victory secured by leader, a terrible old Irish statesman (2,6)

Answer: Éamon DE VALERA (i.e. “old Irish statesman”. No, me neither.) Solution is V (a recognised abbreviation of “victory”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “terrible”) of LEADER A, like so: DE(V)ALERA.

44. Freezing point for bird (7)

Answer: BITTERN (i.e. “bird”). Solution is BITTER (i.e. “freezing”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”, a “point” on a compass).

46. Opener taking gold – that’s rich! (6)

Answer: GATEAU (i.e. “[a cake] that’s rich”). Solution is GATE (i.e. “opener”) followed by AU (chemical symbol of “gold”).

47. Guy heading for Tianjin in China (3,3)

Answer: TEA SET (i.e. “china” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is TEASE (i.e. “[to] guy”) followed by T (i.e. “heading for Tianjin”, i.e. the first letter of Tianjin).

51. Route I don’t know (4)

Answer: PASS. Solution satisfies “route” and “I don’t know”.

Review: Best New Horror 3

The cover is a bit naff, yes, but it seems the image was heavily altered prior to publication. Could just be me, though.

After the relative disappointment of Best New Horror 2 compared to the first volume, it’s pleasing to see a noticeable improvement in this third outing. Out go the sci-fi pretenders and bloodless time-wasters of book two to be replaced by some notably darker material – this was the year American Psycho hit the bookshelves, after all. Overall, then, this book scores a fairly solid 4/5.

Best New Horror 3 collects twenty-nine of the best horror shorts published during 1991, and goes a little something like this:

True Love – K. W. Jeter (4/5 – In this pitch-black opener we follow a disturbed woman as she lures a young boy to her house. We discover through frequent flashbacks that she suffered greatly at the hands of her father, satisfying his sexual urges from an early age and weathering his physical and psychological abuse. Now, in her middle-age, her father is little more than a dried-up husk, shut away in a spare bedroom upstairs. It’s a wonder he’s still alive. Perhaps it has something to do with the children his daughter keeps bringing home. This is a story that is unafraid to visit some truly dark places and I was surprised to find it just as horrific on a second readthrough. And yet Jeter never lets the story veer too far into gratuitousness. Instead he infuses the piece with a cold disconnectedness I found almost as unsettling as the plot. In short, this story perfectly sets up the darker tone of this book, though I’d be happy to not read it a third time.)

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

The Same In Any Language – Ramsey Campbell (3/5 – In another of those “dumped on a Greek island” stories – the third in as many books – we find Hugh, a bookish ten-year-old boy, enduring a Greek holiday from hell with his boorish father. All Hugh wants out of the holiday is to explore the uninhabited island of Spinalonga and to soak up its history. All Hugh’s dad wants is to drink, to piss off Johnny Foreigner and to screw around with Kate, his newfound holiday shag. Worse still, as the days roll on, Kate is trying to act more like a mum to Hugh. Eventually the adults accede to Hugh’s request and they all take a boat trip out to Spinalonga – a former leper colony – as the sun sets in the distance. This was okay, with some interesting and believable relationships developing between the characters, but things went awry the moment Campbell tried to spoon in the horror. The moment his characters stepped onto the island was the moment I started seeing the author’s hand at work, nudging his characters along, making them say and do things that felt a little out of whack, as if he was in a hurry to finish. The story soon feels over-engineered, a bit like Hugh’s dad, and isn’t helped by an unfunny joke ending.)

Impermanent Mercies – Kathe Koja (4/5 – Ellis is a photographer with a mercenary streak. He doesn’t care too much for the subjects on the other side of the lens so long as they can score him the perfect shot. For one such picture, Ellis lines up a young boy, Andy, and his dog, True, between a pair of train tracks. Moments later the hound is tragically killed beneath the wheels of a train. Ellis is later horrified to find that the boy has kept the dog’s head in a box. And that the head can talk. This starts off weird and then gets weirder and darker with each passing paragraph. This reminded me somewhat of the deeply strange and disturbing monologues in Chris Morris’s Blue Jam radio series from the late 1990s (several years after this was published, I should add). I loved Blue Jam back then and I really liked this.)

Collected in Brennert’s “Mai Qui and Other Phantoms”, which you’ll do well to find.

Ma Qui – Alan Brennert (4/5 – Collins is an American soldier trying to come to terms with his violent death out in the Vietnamese jungle. He is not the only one. A few of his squad mates haunt the area as well, having met their ends in the same bloody skirmish. The ghosts of the Vietcong also sit among the trees, a number of them weeping. When a recovery chopper arrives to repatriate the remains of his squad mates, Collins suddenly finds himself alone. Convinced the VC has stolen his body, Collins sets out to find it. He encounters the ghost of a fellow soldier suspended helplessly over a nearby river. In rescuing him, Collins learns of the terrible role he now must fulfil in the afterlife. This is a really good and absorbing read which bagged a Nebula award back in the day.)

Originally published in the shared-world anthology “Under the Fang”

The Miracle Mile – Robert R. McCammon (4/5 – In this bleak tale, which was written as a scene-setter for a post-vampire-apocalypse-themed anthology edited by McCammon, we follow a family as they pick their way through a storm-ravaged American wasteland on the way to Perdido Beach. Kyle and Allie have been coming to the beach every year since they’d hitched up together, years before the world went to hell. For their twelve-year-old son, Tommy, summer has always meant a trip to the place. It’s something they’ve always done. But is this particular pilgrimage being undertaken through sheer bloody-mindedness or is there a darker purpose? What happens when you run out of road in a world full of predators? For the most part this story was fairly standard end-of-the-world fare, being competent and readable but hardly ground-breaking. There then came a moment which genuinely had me saying “Whoa!”, which doesn’t happen very often. For that, an extra point.)

Also collected in SRT’s “City Fishing”.

Taking Down The Tree – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Christmas has come and gone for Nick and his family. It’s time for the kids to stop playing with their toys and help their father take down the tree, the cards, the decorations and a whole lot more besides. A short and effective shocker from SRT, and another one that genuinely surprised me on a first read. Good stuff!)

 

 

 

 

 

Also collected in Clegg’s “Lights Out”

Where Flies Are Born – Douglas Clegg (3/5 – Ellen is on the run with her young son, Joey. They are both escaping the violent clutches of Frank: Ellen’s other half and Joey’s father. When their train breaks down and a lengthy delay looks inevitable, Ellen and Joey accept an offer of accommodation from Mama and Papa Neeson. On their way to the Neeson farmhouse the old couple talk of their little ones. Ellen is sceptical, as the Neesons look much too old to have young children. During the night, on the way to the bathroom, Ellen sees one of the little ones in the hallway: a bruised and filthy girl with a large fly crawling over her face. This was okay, with some really creepy imagery, but I didn’t buy into Papa Neeson’s explain-all, nor did I buy into the ending, which felt rather tacked-on.)

Collected in Johnson’s “In The Night In The Dark”

Love, Death and the Maiden – Roger Johnson (3/5 – It’s the late 1930’s and Europe teeters on the brink of war. A man is introduced to a playwright, Margaret, and her attractive assistant, Valerie. For her next work, Margaret wishes to base a play around Elisabeth Bathory and sends Valerie on a trip across an increasingly volatile Eastern Europe to dig up research on the notorious countess. Valerie writes often to our man, describing her travels, but her correspondence soon darkens as her quest develops into a hunt for Bathory’s iron maiden. Though the setup of the story was hopelessly overengineered, once it got going it was a shoo-in for a solid 4/5. Johnson intercuts his story with gruesomely interesting factoids about Bathory’s insane and murderous excess, and the device works surprisingly well. The denouement, however, spoiled it all, coming across as silly and, unfortunately, in a weird way, reminded me of the Fembots from the Austin Powers movies. Not groovy, baby.)

Also collected in Somtow’s “The Pavilion of Frozen Women”

Chui Chai – S. P. Somtow (4/5 – Russell Liebowitz is an oversexed yuppie earning obscene amounts of cash by day and feeding his assorted vices by night. One night in Bangkok (forgive me, I could not resist) he meets up with Dr Stone in Club Pagoda to discuss some business. Stone seeks an investment of several millions of dollars into her medical research programme. Liebowitz is wise to her programme, however, and its notoriety. Stone is equally wise to Liebowitz, knowing exactly how to press his buttons. A beautiful woman takes to the stage of Club Pagoda to perform the titular dance, and our man is hopeless to resist her. Too late, Liebowitz realises he’s been set up. This is quite the mirror opposite of the previous story, in that it was a solid 3/5 until the ending, which was wonderfully bonkers.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Famous Monsters”

The Snow Sculptures of Xanadu – Kim Newman (1/5 – Newman’s encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema and the horror genre is given another airing in this short piece of pseudofiction. Orson Welles rocks up to a dilapidated Xanadu, Charles Foster Kane’s mansion. There he meets Dr Montague and his team of paranormal investigators. After suiting up seemingly for a blizzard, they step inside. That’s about it, really. The vast majority of the “story” is little more than indulgent showboating from Newman as he sets about blurring real life and several fictitious worlds with dizzying abandon. (You might recognise Dr Montague and his team from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, for example.) Cinephiles may get a kick out of this effort, but many others – myself included – will find it the longest four-page story they’d ever read. An argument could be made that this piece – despite its lack of popularity (it was voted one of the worst stories published in Interzone magazine that year) – was necessary, for Newman would soon go on to fuse real life and fictitious worlds with much greater success in later works. More on that in my review of Best New Horror 4.)

Colder Than Hell – Edward Bryant (4/5 – In turn-of-the-century Wyoming, Logan and his wife, Opal, make the best of a bad situation while a long and bitterly cold winter storm rages outside their remote farmhouse. With the blizzard reducing visibility to mere feet, stepping outside for firewood presents a major operation for Logan. Yet Opal seems to have nowhere near as much trouble when it’s her turn. As the storm continues to strengthen so too does Logan’s suspicion of Opal. Was this really the woman he married all those years ago? How can she remain so calm when all hell is breaking loose outside? This was a good story touching on the feelings of an old married couple who were never able to produce children, and how a small germ of resentment spinning from that could develop into something bigger, given the right circumstances – in this case a relentless and oppressive snowstorm. If I had one complaint, it was Bryant’s attempt to hang the horror element of his story on a somewhat artificial-sounding phrase Opal uses whenever Logan sneezes. There are sound historical reasons why people say something like “gesundheit” or “your health” (to ward off disease) or “bless you” (to ward off evil spirits). I can’t imagine why anyone would say “company’s coming”.)

Also collected in Collins’s “Knuckles and Tales”

Raymond – Nancy A. Collins (4/5 – Darryl is intrigued by a new starter in his class: a nervous and scrawny little boy called Raymond. The boy is dropped off by his abusive, man-mountain-like father in a beat-up pickup truck held together “by a length of baling wire, spit, and a prayer”. Raymond doesn’t really engage with the rest of the class and is largely left alone to do his own thing. The boy’s simple nature, bandaged head and gloved hands mark him out for special attention by the school bully, who soon finds to his cost that Raymond has a limit to the abuse he can take. This is a werewolf story (so much is revealed in the editor’s introduction), but one that is ahead of the pack, so to speak.)

Also collected in Grant’s “Scream Quietly”

One Life, In An Hourglass – Charles L. Grant (4/5 – A spot of fan fiction takes us into the world of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. A middle-aged woman named Cora returns to Green Town, the sometime venue of Cooger & Dark’s travelling carnival. Teenage memories of Mr Dark flood Cora’s mind and the plans she had of leaving Green Town with him, and how those plans were thwarted by her mother. But that was then. Cora can feel the carnival returning, and this time she is sure of it. The storm clouds that once foreshadowed the carnival are gathering once more. I’m not usually a fan of stories that come with prerequisites, but this was pretty good, helped by a wonderfully chill ending. It also prompted me to read Bradbury’s novel beforehand, which had been on my to-be-read pile for years.)

Also collected in Morrison’s “Lovely Biscuits”

The Braille Encyclopedia – Grant Morrison (4/5 – Morrison goes all Clive Barker in this Stoker-nominated short as a young blind woman is recruited into a world of sadism and exquisite pain, of abused angels and human books scarred with forbidden knowledge. Dark stuff indeed, but a good read if you have the constitution for it. I bet this is exactly what Louis Braille had in mind back in the 1800’s when he was putting his alphabet together, the grubby bugger.)

 

Also collected in Hand’s “Last Summer at Mars Hill”

The Bacchae – Elizabeth Hand (5/5 – The ozone layer is knackered, and a large-scale project is underway to place mesh-like shielding into orbit to help combat the damage. Everything takes on a sepia tint, which does a lot more than muddy everyone’s vision. Amid mounting stories of women attacking and killing men, Gordon begins to see a threatening change in the women around him, not least in his other half, Olivia. Walking back together from seeing a production of Euripides’ The Bacchae, Olivia seems irritated by everything Gordon says or does. When they are set upon by three male muggers, Gordon is horrified by Olivia’s explosive response. Some (male) readers back in the day passionately decried this as little more than a misandrous gorefest. It is not. Instead this is a smart riff on Euripides’ tragedy, with women all round the world driven to brutal maenadic fervour thanks to a few too many man-made environmental disasters. What results is one of the best stories in the book and reminded me of Raccoona Sheldon (aka Alice Sheldon aka James Tiptree Jnr)’s The Screwfly Solution, but with the genders reversed. The story was republished a few years ago in Nightmare Magazine, and you can read it here: http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/the-bacchae)

Busted In Buttown – David J. Schow (4/5 – A short shocker from Schow which sees Mex, a no-nonsense burglar, escaping the attentions of the LAPD only to find the tables turned on him in an unforeseen and gruesome way. Another winner.)

Subway Story – Russell Flinn (2/5 – A grumpy old fusspot called Whittle harbours a serious grudge against Daniel, a younger work colleague, going so far as to write an incendiary letter to the local newspaper about the youth of today. Yep, that kind of guy. Anyway, when he’s not looking down his nose on society and all within it, Whittle can often be found getting freaked out by the coven of bag ladies hanging around the entrance to his local subway. When Whittle suspects Daniel is following him around outside of work, he leads the lad into the subway. The next morning, Daniel doesn’t show up to work. This was a real curiosity. My original review of this (which I’ve left up on Goodreads) feels like an entirely different story now that I’ve read it a second time. Sadly, this was not to the story’s benefit, as Flinn’s awkward writing style served only to push me further out of his story. (It could be written in character; I haven’t read any other of Flinn’s stuff.) There are still some lovely turns of phrase to be had, but blimey this was a struggle to get through a second time. A rare downgraded score from me.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Noctuary”

The Medusa – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – Lucian Dregler is a man obsessed with all things Medusa: her mythology, her influence on culture throughout the ages, even the question of her very existence. Dregler is called to a club where he is given a fresh Medusan lead to follow by a friend, not realising it’s a hoax. Or is it? This really ought to be a straight 3/5, but once again I’m won over by Ligotti’s writing, especially in the first half of the story. He is sometimes guilty of creating main characters who are too laser-focused on their interests and are prone to over-philosophising about them – as is the case here – but where he absolutely nails it in The Medusa is in the locations. Within the space of a page I wanted to kick back with a large brandy and a newspaper in the aforementioned club, while his description of a bookshop Dregler later visits almost had me never wanting to leave the place.)

Also collected in Lane’s “The Terrible Changes”. Good luck finding a copy.

Power Cut – Joel Lane (4/5 – A politician called Lake escapes the loneliness of his constituency flat and hits the town for a bit of rough. Lake hooks up with a moody fella called Gary and they head back to Gary’s place. It’s a squalid, bare-bones studio flat littered with newspaper cuttings. The cuttings cover the walls too, and Lake makes the horrible mistake of reading them. Joel Lane’s stories were often good but would require a re-read or two to fully appreciate what was going on, for me at least. This earlyish effort is comparatively straightforward, however, and reads like a pleasingly short Robert Aickman story. Good stuff.)

 

 

Moving Out – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Nick is an arsehole who likes to play pranks on his other half. So much so, it seems, that she eventually moves away – seventy miles away. She refuses Nick’s help, refuses to acknowledge his offer, even his very existence. Now why would she do a thing like that? This was okay – and better than Royle’s previous entries in the Best New Horror series – but two things held it back: 1) I’d guessed what was going on by the end of page one, and 2) Nick really, really is a proper arsehole!)

Also collected in Partridge’s “Bad Intentions”. Love the cover!

Guignoir – Norman Partridge (4/5 – Frank and Larry are twin brothers working a grim carnival attraction called the Death Car: the very vehicle a murderer, Hank Caul, once used to drive his victims to their slaughter. The car is owned by their father, a man with as much business prowess as a bucket of cold piss. When the Death Car’s fortunes start to wane, Pa decides to bring the car back to the town where Caul carried out his horrific murderers, regardless of how the locals may feel about it. The twins witness Pa handing over a suitcase of money – their life savings – over to a few locals in exchange for a smaller briefcase. The old man believes the case contains the skin of Caul, a sure-fire way of reigniting interest in the Death Car. When Pa realises he has been conned, and that Larry hasn’t returned from getting his end away the night before, and that the Death Car has also gone missing… well, that’s enough to get Frank good and mad and out for answers. This was a rollicking, full-blooded story that packed a whole lot of goings-on into its 8000-ish words, but I wonder if it would have worked even better in a longer form.)

Blood Sky – William F. Nolan (4/5 – Ed hits it off with Lorry, a rodeo waitress, and for the first time in his life it feels like he has found true love. Conversation with her is easy, the sex is great and Lorry’s free spirit holds rather a lot of appeal for Ed. It seems they were made for each other. She jacks in her job and they hit the road together, but it doesn’t take long for the cracks to show. Unknown to Lorry, Ed is the notorious Big Sky Strangler, and his past crimes are beginning to catch up with him. As Ed is increasingly reminded of his true nature, the compulsion within him to kill begins to grow again. I liked this a lot, which was helped no end by Nolan’s easy style and the superb characters he creates. The unpleasant nightmares Ed experiences at the beginning of the story are also a real highlight of the piece.)

Ready – David Starkey (no, not the historian) (4/5 – Mike is deeply disturbed by the sounds coming from the flat next door. It sounds like his neighbour is beating a dog, and at length. This goes on night after night until Mike finally snaps and confronts his neighbour, whereupon Mike is invited in to have a go himself. A deliciously dark story, this, though probably not one for animal lovers.)

Also collected in “Walk on the Wild Side: The Best Horror Stories of Karl Edward Wagner Volume 2”

The Slug – Karl Edward Wagner (5/5 – Martine is forced to set aside her sculpting for a moment to hear a sorry story from a fellow creative (and keen alcoholic), Keenan Bauduret. It seems that Keenan made the mistake of letting a fellow writer, Casper Crowley, into his life only to find the man won’t let go of him. Keenan’s creativity stalls, deadlines slip, alcohol mounts, work dries up, and so Keenan feels compelled to take drastic action and wrench his life back. This is an excellent read, helped immeasurably by Wagner’s superb afterword. To quote: “The imaginative is the choice prey of the banal, and uncounted works of excellence have died stillborn thanks to junk phone calls and visits from bored associates.” I’m putting that on my gravestone!)

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

The Dark Land – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – Michael is a young man who lives with his parents. One morning, with the house to himself, Michael sets about rearranging his bedroom, tiring himself in the process. When he wakes from a short nap he finds himself trapped in a waking nightmare of creeping wood-panelling, of a kitchen that accumulates filth and rotting rubbish at an alarming rate, and of two unpleasant men in suits who seem super-keen to smash their way in through the back door. The front door offers salvation of sorts. Now, if only Michael could reach it. This was a funny one to score, even after a re-read. MMS absolutely nails that uneasy, shifting, segueing experience of dreaming, and this story is undoubtedly well-written, but The Dark Land feels overlong for what it is and the ending is a bit of a cop-out. Still, the story bagged a British Fantasy Award back in the day, so what do I know?)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

When They Gave Us Memory – Dennis Etchison (4/5 – A successful actor attempts to reconnect with his parents at their coastal home. He finds the old family home empty, up for sale and in a sorry state of repair. The latter of these strikes him as odd, as his parents had always kept a presentable home. Perhaps they had grown too frail to continue living there. It’s been a while since they last talked, what with his work, his lifestyle and myriad other excuses. He finally finds ma and pa living in a cramped mobile home, where he’s alarmed to find he’s not quite the son they think he is. I liked this story a lot, which is saying something considering the god-sized deus ex machina Etchison employs, and despite my twigging what was going on a little ahead of schedule. Definitely worth checking out.)

Taking Care Of Michael – J. L. Comeau (4/5 – An effective flash fiction shocker as a woman takes care of her disabled brother… badly.)

Also collected in Tessier’s “Ghost Music and Other Tales”

The Dreams Of Dr Ladybank – Thomas Tessier (4/5 – Dr Ian Ladybank finds he can exercise psychic control over two people. One is Snake, a low-ranking biker and wannabe pimp; the husband of one of Ladybank’s patients. The other is a transvestite hooker called Tony, assigned to Ladybank following Tony’s arrest. Ladybank wastes no time in using his newfound power to make both men’s lives a living hell. Matters take a twisted turn when Snake meets up with a hooker called Toni, and tries to coerce her into working for him. This is comfortably the longest story in the book, as long as the three next longest stories combined. Is it worth it? Yes indeed. It’s certainly not afraid to go there, let’s put it that way. But this novella is not without its flaws. Snake is a cookie-cutter badass with some truly cringeworthy dialogue, though maybe this was intentional. My biggest problem, however, lies in Tony. He sure doesn’t talk, act, dress, whore, drive, drink or keep a home like you’d think a sixteen-year-old would. I’ve no idea why Tessier felt the need to make Tony so young, other than an attempt to increase the shock value. Trust me, the story doesn’t need it! Still a good read, all the same.)

Zits – Nina Kiriki Hoffman (2/5 – Another flash fiction shocker as a sexually-abused teenage girl contemplates what to do with the big zit growing inside of her. This didn’t work for me. It seemed to be trying way too hard to be nasty, as if the subject matter wasn’t nasty enough. In their introduction to this story the editors lament the amount of child abuse stories in horror, so it seems bizarre for them to end the book on one.)

Phew! A fair few stories to tuck into there. Well done for getting to the end of this review! If you are tempted to give the book a whirl then PS Publishing can fix you up with a swanky paperback edition, otherwise you should be able to source a second-hand copy or an eBook version somewhere across the World Wide Internets. If you’d like a whizz through the stories found in books one and two, head over to my Reviews page for links.

In the meantime, on with book four!

LP