For many solvers Azed's work represents the pinnacle of achievement in the art of the cryptic crossword. Over thirty-plus years his weekly Observer puzzles have achieved an amazing level of consistency, being tough to solve while scrupulously fair to the solver, highly original but never impenetrable, and above all, erudite, witty and fun. The vocabulary explores the furthest reaches of the Chambers dictionary and beyond. There are references in clues to the arts, popular culture, politics, history and sport, especially the language of cricket. Probably the only weakness in his polymathy is science (oh no, another protein!). And those penny-dropping moments, when the wordplay and definition reveal themselves in a completely unexpected way, abound.
The book will principally appeal to crossword fans who have already tried Azed's puzzles and are hungry for more (or just want to revisit their favourites), but it's to be hoped that they will also use it to introduce others to the delights of this setter. Azed pays tribute to his loyal regular solvers by including many puzzles in which one clue is a prize-winner from his monthly clue-writing competitions (with acknowledgements alongside the solution).
It would be hard to choose the hundred best puzzles of the period this collection covers, but none of these will disappoint, and many are absolute gems.