Posted by HolyGhost on November 28th, 2012
Eclogue is a setter new to the Inquisitor, though I gather from Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database that they have featured in Magpie over the last couple of years. (I say “they” because a Google search indicates that Eclogue is a partnership comprising Eclipse & Logogriph.)
All clues have an extra letter to be removed before solving; these letters spell out a question, to be resolved by changing 12 letters to give the submission grid. (The letter in cell 5 completes the question.) Other thematic material is to be found at regular intervals throughout the clues.
Some of the letters that had to be removed were more obvious than others – anagrams, hidden words, etc. The question was developing nicely as HOW MANY _ _ _ _ S WITH _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ AS LEAD _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ HAVE THERE BEEN? And CLINT EASTWOOD suggested itself for the unclued 5 down, maybe because half-subconsciously I’d noted DIRTY, HARRY and ENFORCER embedded in three clues. A quick check, and Dirty Harry was the nickname of HARRY CALLAHAN, the San Francisco policeman played by Clint Eastwood in five crime thrillers that came out in cinemas in the 1970′s & 80′s. So once I’d solved the several remaining clues, I’d have to replace CLINT EASTWOOD at 5d by HARRY CALLAHAN (12 letter exchanges as the central A is common, and leaving real words in all cases).
So the first two gaps in the question were filled with FILMS and FIVE DOWN, leaving me with C_ARI_TER … until I realised that the letter to be removed from clue 8d wasn’t the I from SERIAL (leading to the answer LEARS), but the A (leading to LEIRS); and also that there was a letter to associate with the unclued 5d. So the question was HOW MANY FILMS WITH FIVE DOWN AS LEAD CHRACTER HAVE THERE BEEN? The Answer is 5, namely Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool.
A quick trawl through the clues for the “other thematic material” and we find Dirty in 4d, Harry in 39a; Magnum in 21d, Force in 12a; Enforcer in 9d; Sudden in 30a, Impact in 45a; and Dead in 29d, Pool in 20a. These are in fact clues number 5, 10, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36, 41, and 46 (if we include the “5d unclued” as a clue) – so, at (fairly) regular intervals of 5 – a nice touch.
To be frank, I found a couple of the composite anagrams rather cumbersome (e.g. 40d “Gun Scorpio then shot could’ve made cops hot in this drive”, and 9d “Enforcer cools off this deed for one potentially”) and I really struggled with the wordplay for 20a “Rushes in pool of salt water outside of temple” (needing to ask my Listener colleague for help). I guess this was to incorporate the extra thematic material.
But thanks to Eclogue for this. (On a personal note, our cat died on Friday evening, aged 15+, and we buried him on Saturday afternoon … so solving a puzzle this weekend was a welcome distraction.)
And thanks to kenmac for giving me a tutorial on animating GIFs.
PS Dipping into Channel 5′s screening of Dirty Harry last Saturday, I was reminded that the antagonist is Scorpio – so we have a further thematic element in the clue for 40d.