Fifteensquared

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Inquisitor 11 – A novel approach by Lato

Posted by petebiddlecombe on March 23rd, 2007

petebiddlecombe.

Solving time: about 5 hours, but I cheated.

I found the end of this puzzle extremely difficult, not being able to spot the novel for ages. After finding answers to all but a couple of the clues, the unclued entries looked like this with obvious unches filled in:

LEA? – so lead, leaf, leak, leal, lean, leap, leas and leat were all possible
INFORME? – informed or informer
GOLD COIN – which suggested noble (correctly) and angel (wrongly)
?ASKE? – endings -ker, -ked, -ket all possible, ditto beginnings bask, cask, mask, task
MISSILE
YOUNGEST SON – couldn’t remember anything except cadet, but knew there was a more specific word.
S?ARK – spark, snark, shark or stark?
?LAN?WIT

The last of these should have been the strongest hint, but it was actually ?LAN?HIT until I spotted my botched spelling of YAHWE at 33. The misprinted letters looked roughly like HENRYPOOPE with one missing, and I had somehow decided they were an anagram of something. One of these letters was of course wrong – at 19D I thought “fan” could be corrected to “pan” to fit the KAZI definition, rather than “can”. Given the right choice, I might have spotted “Henry Cooper”, a famous boxer. That, plus the Welsh placename Llantwit Major was probably the PDM (penny-drop moment) for most successful solvers, but I was still struggling. After a lot of fruitless looking up of names I could think of connected to unclued answer possibilities, using the Dent Dictionary of Fictional characters (normally reserved for fiendish Listeners or Times eliminators), I decided to cheat properly and put “gold coin” into the full-text search option on the Chambers CD-Rom. Inspiration at last: a Napoleon was a Fr. gold coin, and even this literary numskull could remember that Napoleon was the equivalent of Stalin in Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Henry Cooper would have led me to Boxer, and Llantwit to Major. Off to the Wikipedia article about it, to find the other characters from unclued answers:

LEAF = Clover
INFORMER = Squealer
BASKET = Moses
MISSILE = Snowball (all that time wasted trying to remember the right Sam!)
YOUNGEST SON = Benjamin (or Minimus – two AF characters both fit the bill here!)
SPARK = Muriel
LLANTWIT = Major

The “key event” is the ejection of Farmer Jones from Manor Farm – see “Reduced answers” below. The 6-letter “subject” in the grid is, I hope, the “Animal uprising” indicated from the first A in 23 NARROW A, to the L in 13 FLORIN.

Although I got there in the end, and should have done so without quite so much agony, I thought the process of solving this was a bit too indirect. When I was short of a couple of important theme elements, there seemed to be umpteen possibilities for the theme. While the penny was starting to drop, I unfortunately interpreted ?ASKE? as CASKER = Boxer, which didn’t help me spot Henry C and clear up my misidentified misprint. Anyone not familiar with the name Llantwit Major pretty much had to find all of Henry C from the misprints to get an easy starter for the theme.

Reduced answers
40 DON,JON = a keep – JON is removed
41 ESC = key, A=accepted, P.(IN)G. – PG = paying guest = lodger. ES is removed, making JONES in DON/JONES/CAPING.
Misprints
12 H – spam/sham / R,EmAiLs
13 E – Monty/money / Harris = ROLF, florin – the going rate from aunties and uncles for being good or having a birthday – can’t remember which.
15 N – laid/land / S,YRIA=airy
26 R – muddy/ruddy / 2 mngs
34 Y – clan/clay / LATE,RITE=”right”
9 C – fan/can / KAZI = IZ(a)AK
20 O – fellow/follow / 2 mngs
25 O – ships/shops / MARK,ETS=set*
28 P – drowsy/dropsy / EDEMA=(made,(worse)E)*
30 E – parson/person / RE,LI,C
37 R – bay/bar / RAIL=liar
Across
1 I,N(C)OME – nome = dept. of Greece
8 OKE – 2 mngs
17 hoe*,Y = OHEY is a place in Belgium
27 TESSERA = (Ares,set)
Down
1 LISSOME = (Mol(l)ie’s,S)*
2 ENVY = Yv(on)ne
4 IRLAM = R in Mali
6 M(IND’S)ET
19 SOLITO = (tools I) – Mus. direction meaning “in the usual manner” – not one I can recall ever seeing, and seems pointless – if you know what the usual manner is, you’d presumably do it that way anyway, and if you don’t you’re no further ahead!
22 IN(u)RE
24 GLEI – G,(i.e. L)
31 US,ING – an ing is a meadow
35 A,LOO(s) – potato as in Gobi Aloo Sag
36 (s)TALI(n) – a gentle hint at the theme, possibly, though it didn’t help me.

3 Responses to “Inquisitor 11 – A novel approach by Lato”

  1. says:

    For me the new Inquisitors are set at a level just a bit too hard. I regularly finished the old Weekend Crossword series with the odd exception and really enjoyed them for their brilliant thematic content and level of difficulty just above the standard cryptics.
    The Inquisitors for me are too ‘Listenerish’ where I can barely comprehend the preambles never mind solve the damn things.
    Anyone else feel the same way?

  2. says:

    I don’t think there’s any intentional change in difficulty with the change of name, but there was debate about this elsewhere a few weeks ago. Some setters recalled that in the early days of the weekend puzzle, it was ‘house policy’ to be easier than the Listener. Mike Laws, the current editor of the series, doesn’t think the Inquisitor puzzle has a duty to be easy, but Phi and Duck said they would normally send easier puzzles to Mike than to the Listener editors. For me, Phi’s Inquisitor 12 was the easiest since the change of name.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve finished all 12 Inquisitors so far, correctly as far as I know. I don’t think I’ve ever finished 12 Listeners on the trot.

    The debate can be seen here.

  3. says:

    Not got the puzzle with me, but, I think, as often, I’ve missed the last step – these can be tricky with LATO, while always justifiable. I’d found SATIRE in (from memory) I2 to J4, but your explanation sounds more convincing.

    I was helped by the fact that I knew the book – took about 3 hours to solve but I used Bradford’s and, at the very end, all that’s on the Internet with TEA used for Llanwith.

    As a regular Listener solver, I think this series remains easier than the Listener, though harder than when it started.

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