murder mystery

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – busy couple of days, and so I’m getting to this well after the solution is out, so not sure if I have that much to add to the general conversation, but here goes… it’s Hedge-sparrow, making a sixth appearance in George vs Listener world.  I have to say that Hedge-sparrow has made quite the impression on me, with the really tricky clash-resolution tour de force  Here and There, before that was some super colliding in Mass Production, the speed of light  in Metrical Variations, Charlie Darwin in S, and wormholes (hey, they popped back for a visit recently) in Travel Agents.  The first four had pretty sciencey themes, so in my note to Hedge-sparrow I beseeched a return to scientific or scienfictional themes.  Was I to get it with A Murder Mystery?

Three detectives, ciphers, evidence in the grid, a few DLM+1 clues (I may have coined that phrase, the device was in a Spectator puzzle a few months ago as well).  Side by side clues for down answers concealing a long message explaining the cipher.  OK… sounds like a wealth of thematic stuff, let’s get into it.

There is a 1 across, but I couldn’t get it on a first read-through.  No luck with 12 across either, but at 13 I hit the first of the DLM+1 clues with CAPO and we’re away.  That crosses 2 down, which has to be SWANS or BAYOU, but only one fits, so I can place both SWANS and BAYOU.  I got lucky with a number of the down clues that way, it seemed if I could solve one half I could solve the other half so it was a two-for-one.

With seven of the DLM+1 clues worked out it looked like it was going to be the HOUSEMAID who was the victim.  I was missing the I and S which helped confirm BUTTER.  The longer message took a bit more working out – I had KILLER and LETTERS and then tried to make the message meet in the middle.  KILLER FIRST THEN UNUSED LETTERS.

Moderate panic when I thought this was going to be a Playfair square!  But that wouldn’t work, not all of the messages are even numbers of letters.  Phew… So maybe it’s a simpler cipher – write HOUSEMAID then the rest of the alphabet and match it… Aha – now we have DRAPED OVER FLOOR, FLOATING ON LAKE and AT BOTTOM OF GARDEN, and we can work out the detectives as MAIGRET, FR BROWN and WIMSEY.  I’d already spotted BODY in the middle, and GROUND above the body.  So maybe it’s under the ground and Wimsey is right?  But there’s MERE under the BODY.  So it’s definitely floating on the lake.  Hmmm… I guess the bottom of the garden doesn’t mean under the garden does it?  So I changed my mind to B. FR BROWN.

Now I see I’d missed EDEN as the garden.

My grid for Listener 4232 - A Murder Mystery by Hedge-Sparrow

One long session later and we’re done – I think I had this in the mail on Monday, and I believe I can actually call this one a Victory to George.  Very fun puzzle (but how about the sciencey stuff next time, Hedge -sparrow?).

2013 tally:  5-3-2

Feel free to tell me that I need to get on to these earlier (I know I’m out of town next Friday so I should write it up before I leave), and see you next week when Wan gives us a puzzle in which to find my dear Watson.

Hey – I forgot the funniest part… I really do need to write these up earlier.  Looking at the conversation on the Crossword Center, and the note on the Listener site – looks like I lucked in to the weapon in a funny way – I saw DRAINO and thought “Oh, he’s fed her DRAINO and tossed her on the lake”.  Then looked at Chambers and saw that DRAINO isn’t there.  But it was still nagging at me, so I looked up  ?ONIARD and there was PONIARD!

I still think it should have been DRAINO


One Response

  1. Hi George, I thought this puzzle was fantastic. Definitely my favorite of the year so far! It took me a while to find PONIARD, and a look in Chambers confirmed it. Nice one Hedge Sparrow!

    I might just add that Collins English dictionary is no good with Listener puzzles, even the on-line FREE version resulted in ‘Sorry the word you were looking for…..’

    Any who, Nice to see you outwitted it like me.

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