Top positive review
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Great puzzles, well presented
on 7 January 2010
Most of this review applies to any book in this series, and if you've read my previous reviews of books in this series, there is little new except in the first two paragraphs. This volume has the new cover style for Times xwd books and mercifully avoids the common xwd book howler where the grid on the cover is one that couldn't possibly appear inside the book. It also corrects the slip-up in volume 13 where the "beginner's guide" puzzle was a different one from the one whose answers were explained on the next page.
The 80 puzzles in this collection appeared in 2006, and it includes the nine puzzles used in the reinstated Times Crossword Championship (puzzles 70-79, including tie-breaker which wasn't needed). The introduction briefly describes the championship and also names the setters whose puzzles are used, though individual puzzles are anonymous, as in the paper, except for former xwd ed John Grant's last puzzle.
The crosswords are the main point of the book and the main point of a daily paper cryptic is the quality of the clues. If you're after lots of contemporary culture or thematic puzzles you won't find them here, but for entertainingly deceptive but fair clues, the Times crossword is as good as any cryptic crossword on the planet and streets ahead of many.
What's lacking, as in many crossword books, is explanations of answers. The Times puzzle sometimes uses quite difficult "general knowledge" or subtle wordplay, and it would be possible to identify some of this and add a few explanations to the solution grids. That's my reason for awarding four stars rather than five.