The Pocket Detective – compiled by Kate Jackson – A British Library Crime Classic Puzzle book

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This is an unusual thing for me … a review of a Puzzle book. This is a very special one, however, as it is based on the series of British Library Crime Classics and one or two other Golden Age Detection writers, notably Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Beautifully produced with a 1920s inspired cover of a bewildered puzzle solver, this is a stunning addition to the highly successful series.

At over one hundred puzzles, this book can swallow up many hours of happy activity, even for those whose crossword abilities are themselves questionable (more Inspector Lewis than Morse).For many of them, access to the sixty plus books in the series is not essential, and for some it would be helpful but not a bar to completing the puzzle. For example, there are several “Spot the Difference” puzzles based on covers of the books which can easily be solved from this book alone, though if the original is available it would be more visible. That is the only drawback for me; the pocket size makes it a little tricky to write in for crosswords etc. Having said that, the size makes it very portable, fitting in the smallest bags (or pockets!!) to fill those hours between reading novels full of fictional crime.

The high quality paper makes it easy to write on with a variety of pencils and pens, and the binding withstands the knocks and pressures of being flattened and carried around in various ways. My favourite puzzles are the Kriss Kross, fitting words from a book into a grid, and I just wish I was better at anagrams.

Several friends have inspected this and cast envious glances at it, suggesting that it would make an excellent gift. They have tried their hands at the some of the puzzles, and helped me to work out how to tackle them both with and without the books. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy, but I have seen them in the wild since and my fingers itched to buy more copies as presents. This is a high quality puzzle book, created with a lot of imagination and skill, and it is an excellent investment for yourself and for others.

Meanwhile, I have been tackling the odd puzzle from this book while Northernvicar tackles the fallen leaves in the drive. Being a Vicarage, we have rather a lot, though thankfully also neighbours and friends who help to move them to the side (which is good as my scooter does not like them). He has filled two large wheely bins with them, and has many more to go, as many trees mean many leaves at this time of year. Tonight I have a rehearsal for a couple of Armistice Day concerts that I am singing in, which reminds me to say that if you have the option of seeing Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old” reconstructed films from the First World War, do so if at all possible. It is ninety minutes well spent – memorable images brilliantly edited.