ed. Toronto, Ontario
101 Cryptic Crosswords: From the New Yorkerby Fraser Simpson
Ready for something that really tests your brainpower? These puzzles--taken from the celebrated pages of The New Yorker magazine--offer more challenges per "empty square" than the average crossword! Every cryptic has a twist, a little something extra, a double-dose of difficulty. That's because the clues all have two parts: a definition half and a wordplay half, with anagrams, reversals, containers, and lots of other word games built in.
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This is far and away the best set of cryptic puzzles for Americans who would like to give them a try. The introduction and practice puzzles help you get started, and the explanations provided of the answers quickly get you thinking cryptically. As in all cryptic puzzles, there are occasional references to geography and culture. The difference in this collection is that the references are to things American, not British (who are the acknowledged masters of the genre). The spelling also conforms to American usage. The puzzles assume the solver has a good vocabulary. Make sure you have a comprehensive dictionary at hand (I recommend the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). I now know more about nutmeg, TexMex culture, and a host of other things than I did before tackling these puzzles. Here's another suggestion: If you come across a proper name you don't recognize in a clue, a search on the Internet can be helpful. I hope this collection of puzzles is the first in a series, and that the second volume will come out soon. 101 puzzles just aren't that many when they're this good.