There was no place in the puzzle he could find Nemo?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – I headed out of town without scanning the grid for this one so you are spared and frankly unreadable brick wall of circled letters, scribble overs and poor highlighting.

Anyhoo, I am getting ahead of myself – Nemo is a new setter or a newdonym (I suspect a newdonym, but there’s no indication of that on the Listener website) – and we have a brick wall grid with a lot of blocked-off cells, and answers that meander around the grid threaded between the rows that are clued with no gaps.

I don’t think I’ve seen a puzzle quite like this before, particularly with the large number of answers near the top that needed tricky threading.  Fortunately the fully clued rows were not too bad, with the exception of me guessing CLASS at B3 at the start.

So after a few solving sessions I was stuck with a pretty solid bottom half of the grid, and a largely empty top half of the grid and a lot of head-scratching, with no idea about the theme.  I had a gap at the bottom left, including the difficult-to-fit-in (especially when you have CLASS at B3) ODALIQUE, and I guess knowing what could end up at 6 (I know it ends in O) will tell the theme.  Themes that end in O?

Finally saw CELLA at B3 and managed to fit in ODALIQUE and there’s the possibility of making AMONITILLADO snaking down to 6.  Wasn’t that a Poe story?  And EDGAR ALLAN POE could go in the middle.  This is looking promising!

I googled THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO (I admit, I have never read it), and found the information I needed – it was clear that IN PACE REQUIESCAT could go across the bottom – and the names of the characters could take care of the sides.  Now what goes across the top?  I only had a few letters.  A few scans through the wikipedia article and NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT sticks out – it means I have to change one letter in the top row but it fits without NEMO so that’s the title of the puzzle.

Phew…

Even then I still had about half a dozen empty cells to try to figure out through the snaking around clues.  I remember having the hardest time trying to reconcile MOONSCAPE and ANATASE (that overlapped at the end).

What a strange puzzle?  I finished it, but I needed the thematic material to get a massive chunk of the grid, and had to crib all of that from online. I see now that I have a complete grid without solving 9 or 22.  So I’ll take a sheepish solution and feel pity for the checker this week!

Game over – Victory to George, 88% completion.

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