Corpus de Crossword

Corpus de Crossword - Nero Blanc

This is either a mystery with some added crosswords, or a small book of crosswords, with an accompanying mystery, depending on your point of view. It probably serves the crossword puzzler better than the mystery buff.

There are six crosswords, not cryptic; the mystery is set in small-town eastern U.S. The mystery itself is passable, and does not depend on the reader completing the crosswords for its solution, though a rather awkwardly introduced plot device ensures that the female protagonist, a crossword maker named Belle, gets her principal insights from said crosswords.

For a work that's so self-congratulatory about its use of a wide variety of words, there are some irritating slips of diction in the story, and likewise some slips or downright errors in the crossword clues. Examples of the former: "free reign"; "a might touchy".  An example of the latter: "assai" as the solution of "musically quick". ("Assai" means "very". The puzzle-maker probably saw it in the phrase allegro assai, which means very quick - but "assai" by itself as a solution is a nonsense).

I'm not a fan of crosswords that are neither cryptic nor soluble by having a large but modern vocabulary without knowledge of obscure words not in use outside of crossword dictionaries. So I'm probably not the target audience for this volume. In the end, I'm probably being too severe because the work is clearly simply a pass-time. For my money, it was a mediocre one.