Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Book Review: Crossword Ends in Violence (5)

Nine years ago, in the summer just before I started at theological college, I ventured across the Irish Sea for a few days in London. The Proclamation Trust were running their Cornhill Summer School, with a focus on student ministers and those who were learning to preach. At the conference, I came into contact with James Cary, who worked as a television comedy writer. He's the only person I know with their own IMDB page, with credits for Bluestone 42 and Miranda among others. As well as his TV and radio work, he has also written a book, which I got around to reading in the summer.

Crossword Ends in Violence (5) is an action packed adventure, and a really good read. It focuses on John Fellowes, a professional cryptic crossword setter who shares his office with a chess quiz setter and a bridge quiz setter. It doesn't sound like it would be the most exciting, but the action gets going early on with the realisation that John's grandfather appeared to be including D Day codewords in his puzzles in advance. The story alternates between the present day and the period of the second world war, with cryptic parallel stories in England and Russia.

As well as the spy thriller, the book is also great as an introduction to solving cryptic crosswords! In a very convenient exchange, one of the characters explains how to work out what cryptic clues are getting at - with plenty of examples to attempt in the chapter titles.

The conclusion of the story is satisfying, with all the loose ends tied up, and the puzzle completed. It's a gripping novel, which is easily read and very enjoyable. There is fast paced action, with the reader left guessing the whole way through. If you've an interest in cryptic crosswords, in chess, or in world war two, then this book is definitely for you, but everyone will enjoy it! Crossword Ends in Violence (5) is available on Kindle.

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