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The Sunday Times Mephisto Crossword Book 1: Bk. 1 Paperback – 9 Sep 2011
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The Mephisto puzzle has been around for close to 50 years (the latest one as I write this (April 2010) is No. 2589), and is a rival to the similar puzzle in the Observer (currently Azed, previously Ximenes). There are two important differences between the two puzzles at present. First, the Mephisto puzzles are hardly ever "specials", so you won't get Printer's Devilry or definition and letter mixture clues to deal with. You sometimes get little themes in the grids, and one such theme applies to the first 26 puzzles in this book. Secondly, there are three Mephistos as opposed to one Azed. For me, this adds to the difficulty of Mephisto - you don't get the same chance to get used to one setter's way of thinking.
But only one of these differences affects this book - all the puzzles in it are written by Mike Laws, one of the three - the others are Tim Moorey and Paul McKenna. Except for Paul replacing Chris Feetenby a year or two ago, these three have been in place since Richard Whitelegg died in 1995. He in turn replaced Richard Kilner in 1973. So the second book we now need is one with puzzles from the other setters.
The puzzles are clearly laid out in 2-page spreads with large grids. One disappointment is that except for the odd clue in about half a dozen puzzles, there are no solution notes - just the solution grid. When the puzzles use very difficult vocabulary in both answers and wordplay, this is quite a big obstacle in the path of the new Mephisto solver, for whom this book should be a big recommendation. On the other hand, there is a page of guidance notes which identifies the need for Chambers and gives other useful advice for someone making the move from daily paper puzzles.