Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 71 – At Random by Charybdis

Posted by petebiddlecombe on May 16th, 2008


Solving time: about 2 hours

This was a nice example of a fairly gentle thematic puzzle. Extra words in clues are a fairly simple way of providing thematic messages, but the idea of using the central letter or pair of letters was a bit of variation from the usual first letter.

I made good progress with solving clues, and fairly soon had a few names of writers emerging – “C DICKENS” probably came first. I was then a bit stuck with about half a dozen clued answers left and the unresolved question of why eight names were linked with nine unclued entries. Looking at the unclued answers, I saw that CARDS, BLEAK, MIRTH and SLEEP all matched book titles with ‘House of ___’ or ‘____ House’, and that M Dobbs, E Wharton were also among the names – I couldn’t remember whether Wharton’s one was Mirth or Sleep. This led on to spotting that two of the nine unclued answers could be POOH CORNER. So the eight books are:

The House of the SPIRITS – I Allende
The House of SLEEP – J Coe
BLEAK House – C Dickens
House of CARDS – M Dobbs
The House on the STRAND – M Du Maurier
The House at POOH CORNER – A A Milne
The Fall of the House of USHER – E A Poe
The House of MIRTH – E Wharton

On then to the bit I sometimes struggle with – finding the phrase in the grid. The enumeration (10,6) made HOUSES easy to guess as the second word, and looking for this in the grid , I first found HOU in YOGHOURT, with SES as you turned west from the O. I then saw PUBLISHING, forming the rest of a house shape, and fairly soon saw the other (slightly different-shaped) house, using the BLIS in BLIST and SHING in SHINGLE. One or two quibbles and questions below.

Nearly forgot the last detail – explaining the title. Something you should always ponder for thematic barred-grid puzzles. In this case, a pun on “Random House”.

4 I spike W((n)ORTH)ILY
10 AL call ARRAS – hidden
11 LE asleep ANNO – O for A in Anna
12 N any IONESCO = (cohesion – H)*
13 D self-doubt ICE BAG = (gibe, C, A)*
14 E gathering RE(SUM)E – ree = Scots for a back yard is one to remember
17 J marijuana IRKSOME – I,R,smoke*
19 CO unrecorded BOLERO – R in (oboe,L)*
20 E spent TISHRI – (archivist – vac)*
24 C yucky VAS – hidden
25 D cedar ELDER – 2 defs
26 I idolizing U.(SER)S.
29 CK shocking R.(I)E.M.
30 EN recommendation BAN,T.U.
32 S muses COLUMBIC – M in bucolic* – not quite sure how ‘maiden over bucolic wandering’ indicates the containment of M though.
33 M crumpet L(IT.)E
34 D overdosed REMS – (Mrs E.)*
37 OB robe HONEY BEAR – (her on eBay)* – but I don’t understand how “* perhaps” is the def. I assume something weird happened in the final typesetting.
38 B amber S(H)INGLE
39 S basal TELOMERE – (O, elm tree)*
40 DD waddle SKIS – move the final S in KISS
1 U featuring LOO,E
2 M brimful EONS – hidden
3 A again PAS – 2 defs
5 U tough O,ROPES,A – it really is a float used on a minesweeper
6 RI grim RAILBUS = burials*
7 E sheep H(A)E
8 RA garage IN,B,REED
9 A slams YOGH,OUR,’T
15 M seeming MORE SUO = (Sue room)*
16 IL Emilia MOPER – (emperor – ER)*
18 N canal (t)RIP
21 EE freely S(LIM(e))S
22 A dismantle SEMI – hidden
23 PO report VENTAIL – another query here if trouble = AIL, how does preposterous = VENT?
24 E spent VAC,U,OLE
27 EW time-worn SAITH,E – I know the saithe and pollock are both fish, so assume they must be the same fish.
28 H patchwork C(LEES)E
30 A prank B-LIST/BLIST – two defs
31 R early TENNO – another name for the emperor of Japan
35 T writers MYTH – (nymphet – pen)*
36 ON lone RANI – hidden

2 Responses to “Inquisitor 71 – At Random by Charybdis”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    32a: M is simply the abbrev. of “maiden over”.
    37a: I assumed that the asterisk referred to an unclued entry, i.e. POOH
    23d: I don’t recall the entire clue, but the two syllables were clued in reverse order, and “preposterous” literally means “putting the last first”.

  2. Phi says:

    To be precise (and I assume this was what HolyGhost was referring to) the unclued answer POOH had an asterisk where the number would normally have been, which baffled me till I twigged the clue.

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