NTSPP – 025
Solvers by Radler
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
This is a first-rate puzzle from Radler which really exercised the little grey cells. The theme, as indicated by the title and by 21a, is solvers, i.e. fictional detectives, and Radler has managed to include no less than fifteen in the puzzle (one of whom I hadn’t heard of, although I am a fan of crime fiction).
The wordplay in a few places is quite tricky (worthy of an end-of-the-week Toughie) – I think that I’ve sorted out most of it, but I’m sure that Radler will point out any omissions or errors.
1a Solver’s fancy so it’s said (6)
WIMSEY – [Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L Sayers] – sounds like (so it’s said) whimsy (fancy).
4a Solver’s time to follow 12 writer without point and non-British writer with one (6)
POIROT – [Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie] – remove the compass point from the author of 12a to give PO(e), then add (b)IRO (writer without British, and a biro does have a point) and end up with T(ime). My favourite clue!
10a Garland captured by Minnelli eloquently in retrospect (3)
LEI – one of the few easy clues. This Hawaiian garland is concealed (captured) backwards (in retrospect).
11a Solver’s busy laying eggs? (5)
QUEEN – [Ellery Queen by, well by Ellery Queen which was the pseudonym used by two American cousins] – think of the insects that you can be as busy as, then think of which one of them lays eggs.
12a Solver’s increase in noise (5)
DUPIN – [C. Auguste Dupin by Edgar Allan Poe] put a verb meaning to increase inside a synonym for noise.
13a Listens in to absurd swearing, lacking hint of nuance (7)
EARWIGS – an anagram (absurd) of SWEARI(n)G, without the first letter (hint) of Nuance.
14a Solver’s flower (7)
CAMPION – [Albert Campion by Margery Allingham] – double definition.
15a Californian youth sails (7)
LATEENS – these triangular sails are youth (a valid plural as in “the youth of today”) from Los Angeles.
18a Tenant fails to complete name with second contracts (7)
LESSENS – the definition is contracts and it’s LESSE(e) (tenant which is incomplete) plus N(ame) and S(econd).
21a Middle one of the solvers in this puzzle (3)
EYE – the key to the theme (i.e. private eye, though a few of the detectives here are police officers). It also means middle as in eye of the storm.
22a Solver’s dressing and should pay (7)
MARLOWE – [Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler] – a charade of MARL (a sort of clay spread as a fertiliser, so dressing) and OWE (be under an obligation to repay).
25a One’s left Judge Dread, gone East and North-east England (7)
DANELAW – this is the North-East part of England which was occupied by the Danes in the 9-11th centuries. It comes from DAN(i)EL (I’m not totally sure of how judge leads to Daniel but I think it’s just that Daniel comes from Hebrew meaning “the Lord is judge” – remove the I (one’s left)) followed by AW(e) (dread with East gone).
28a Vital file with flu remedy (7)
LIFEFUL – an anagram (remedy) of FILE and FLU produces a rarely-used adjective meaning vital.
29a Annual meeting of disagreeable woman and her blustering leader (7)
COWHERB – the definition is annual (i.e. a flowering plant like a carnation). It’s a charade (meeting) of COW (disagreeable woman), HER and B(lustering).
31a Solver’s brother (5)
MASON – [Perry Mason, by Erle Stanley Gardner, is meant to be an attorney rather than a detective but he does his share of sleuthing] – a double definition with brother here meaning a fellow freemason.
32a Solver’s earth mover (5)
SPADE – [Sam Spade by DashieLl Hammett] – another double definition.
33a Confession using made-up words? (3)
IDO – Ido is an artificial language (using made-up words) like Esperanto. If you redefine it as 1,2 it becomes a confession (or possibly a promise).
34a Solver’s time away embracing setter (6)
HOLMES – [Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle] – time away is HOLS, put ME (setter) inside. If you missed the first episode of “Sherlock” last Sunday you missed a treat. I was sceptical about a “modernised” version but it was brilliantly done – I hope that tonight’s and subsequent episodes live up to the first.
35a Solver’s way North (6)
ALLEYN – [DCI Roderick Alleyn (pronounced Allen) by Ngaio Marsh]. Put together a narrow passageway and N(orth).
1d Solver’s hand (and foot) in trouble (5)
WOLFE – [Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout] – put L(eft) and F(oot) inside WOE (trouble). I’m a bit dubious about L being used for hand.
2d Solver’s ragtime dances (7)
MAIGRET – [Commissaire Jules Maigret by Georges Simenon] – this was the first solver I got and it gave me the explanation of the theme. It’s an anagram (dances) of RAGTIME.
3d Quiz and half of news recycled by paper (7)
ENQUIRE – the definition is quiz, as a verb. Reverse (recycled) the first half of NE(ws) and add a word meaning one-twentieth of a ream of paper.
5d Morbid accumulations giving rise of equivalent to God (7)
OEDEMAS – this is a medical term I’d never heard of. According to Chambers these are pathological accumulations of fluid in tissue spaces. It’s a synonym of equivalent followed by the dative case of the Latin word for god (i.e. to God). You then have to reverse the lot (giving rise to, in a down clue).
6d Creeping back for every piece (7)
REPTILE – the answer is normally seen as a noun but here it’s an adjective (creeping). Reverse (back) PER (for every, as in 50p per kilo) and add TILE (piece, in a mah-jong set for example).
7d Part protruding from below lacks safety feature (5)
TENON – a protruding piece of wood, for insertion into a mortise, is, if reversed (from below in a down clue) a statement (2,3) that a piece of safety equipment (in a circus, for example) is missing.
8d See 16d
9d Posh candles all over the place but no plates (8)
UNSCALED – start with U (posh) and add an anagram (all over the place) of CANDLES to get a description meaning without plates (on a reptile, for example).
15d Solver’s food say, for 1 down say (3)
LAM – [Donald Lam by A.A. Fair (pen name of Erle Stanley Gardner)] (a solver I’d not heard of) – we have two homophones here. The answer sounds like (say) lamb, which might be on the menu of the animal that sounds like (say) the answer to 1d.
16d/8d More heads to turn: stripper sporting eye-opening fishnets (3-4)
EEL-SETS – what an exciting surface reading! The definition is fishnets (nets placed across a river to catch eels) – we start with ELSE (more, as in “what else is there?”) and follow with the initial letters (heads) of T(urn) and S(tripper). Then insert (sporting) an E (opening of Eye).
17d Snip snip away? No! No! Not necessary, being infertile (8)
SEEDLESS – the answer describes a plant (or a man) which is infertile. Remove the nip (snip away) from S(nip) and add (n)EEDLESS (not necessary) without the N(o) (i.e. it has no no). Another excellent surface reading!
19d/20d Switch between swings and roundabouts? (6)
SEESAW – double definition, The answer is being used as a verb meaning to switch from one position to another and back again. As a noun it might be found in a children’s playground.
23d Prohibition judge, American, with a little alcohol (7)
REFUSAL – a synonym for prohibition is made from a charade of REF (judge in a sporting contest), US (American) and AL(cohol). I don’t really like “a little” meaning the first two letters.
24d Having to dodge slap in the face (7)
OFFENCE – the definition is slap in the face, affront, rebuff. Put together OF (having, as in “man of letters”) and FENCE (to dodge or answer evasively, like a politician).
26d Economic policy after re-shuffle? (3,4)
NEW DEAL – an economic policy first put forward by Franklin Roosevelt, is also, in this cryptic definition, what you might get in a game of cards after a re-shuffle.
27d Flow with the wind from the South, to change 16 (3,4)
LEE TIDE – this is a tide (flow) moving in the same direction as the wind. If you read the answer backwards (from the South, in a down clue) as 4,3 you get an instruction to amend the answer to 16d.
28d Comical and funny endings rate humour (5)
LYMPH – a charade of the last letters (endings) of (comica)L anf (funn)Y is followed by MPH (rate, speed) to give a clear fluid flowing through the lymphatic system in the human body (humour being a medical term for a fluid).
29d Solver’s endless repetitive song (4)
CHAN – [Charlie Chan by Earl Derr Biggers] – remove the final letter (endless) from CHAN(t) (repetitive song).
30d Solver’s getting Ed off infuriated Gordon (5)
BROWN – [Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton] – this is very clever with a surface hinting at trouble between our ex-MP and Ed Balls (or is it Milliband) but it doesn’t quite work for me. I think that what you’re meant to do is start with BROWNED OFF (infuriated?) and remove the ED and OFF to leave just his surname.
I liked lots of clues, including 7d, 16d/8d and 17d, but my favourite is 4a. Thanks to Radler for an excellent and enjoyable puzzle.