London, 1381. Serjeant Richard Sutler is celebrating the successful prosecution of Lady Isolda Beaumont for the poisoning of her husband, Sir Walter Beaumont. There is one punishment for such a crime – Isolda was burned to death. As Sutler wends his way home, a masked figure throws an oily substance over him and sets it alight. The substance burns hotter than normal oil – Sutler is incinerated by Greek Fire, a secret that Beaumont had stolen and that many people would kill to get their hands on.
As the so-called Ignifier punishes those responsible for Isolda’s execution – each of them reduced to ashes – Brother Athelstan finds himself questionning whether Isolda was truly responsible for her husband’s death. But as the Ignifier turns his sights on Athelstan and the coroner, Sir John Cranston, the friar finds himself faced with a miracle at St Erconwald’s. A man with disfiguring burns collapses during a service and stands up, completely healed. But the secret of Greek Fire is out there – and it seems that the Upright Men, the leaders of the upcoming Peasants’ Revolt, have got their hands on it…
Christine Lewis suffers from anterograde amnesia. Every morning when she wakes up, she has no recent memories – sometimes, all she can remember is her childhood. She can’t remember what caused this trauma – she can’t even remember her husband, Ben. Every day, she has to re-learn who she is.
But one day she is contacted by a psychiatrist, Dr Nash, who is determined to help her regain her life, and she starts to keep a journal for herself. By using this, she starts to find things aren’t quite as she thought. She had a son who died in the army. She wrote a novel. And she wrote herself a very clear message – “DON’T TRUST BEN”. But is there anyone that she can trust? Can she even trust her own words?
Lew Archer, having just completed a successful investigation, is hired by a young man, Alex Kincaid to find his wife. Only married for a short time, his wife, Dolly, has vanished into thin air. Archer finds her incredibly quickly, only to find that Dolly is implicated in the shooting of her college professor, Helen Haggerty, a crime that she claims that she is responsible. Confined to a hospital by a nervous breakdown, it seems that the police have their suspect.
Archer is less convinced. Who was the stranger who alarmed Dolly so much before the crime? And, as he looks into the background of the people involved, it seems that there is more than one murder to be investigated. Other similar shootings have taken place over the years and Archer becomes convinced that one hand is responsible – a dangerous hand whose work might not be over.
And so we come to the last of my blog posts about the World Puzzle Championships for now. I’ve told you about the set up, I’ve told you about my personal experiences, I’ve even inflicted a couple of my puzzles on you. Now it’s your turn. This time, I’m going to tell you how you can get involved, either competitively against the rest of the world or simply getting a bundle of free puzzles that are far more interesting than the majority of stuff published in the majority of puzzle magazines.
Last time, I explained a little about the format of the World Puzzle Championships, and, in part two of this series of posts, I thought I’d explain a little about the experience of taking part in the Championships, which I did, for the fourth time, this summer in sunny Croydon.
The UK Puzzle Association has been planning the World Sudoku and World Puzzle Championships for at least a year. It’s worth pointing out that the UKPA consists entirely of volunteers, whose ranks when it comes to preparation were depleted by some competitors necessarily removing themselves in order to compete. There’s far too many names to thank and congratulate here, and apologies for anyone that I’ve missed out, but Alan O’Donnell, Liane Robinson, Tom Collyer and Gareth Moore and many more worked their socks off to make this tournament work. I was able to do a little bit to help by means of invigilating and marking the Sudoku Championship – the highlight being one of the live markers in the final and getting a photo of the back of my head in the I newspaper (for some reason they seemed to prefer pictures that focused on the competitors – go figure!) But once that was over, it was time for the World Puzzle Championship!
As you probably know, my online pseudonym is Puzzle Doctor (occasionally branching out to THE Puzzle Doctor depending on how self-important I’m feeling :) ) but only part of the “Puzzle” bit relates to my reading preferences. It also relates to actual puzzles, which I’m also a fan of.
Last month I was very proud of two things – being able to help out at the World Sudoku Championships and competing for the United Kingdom in the World Puzzle Championship. I mentioned it in the Puzzly post and there were a couple of requests for more information. So here we go…
August was a busy month for me, the newly crowned 69th best official puzzler in the world – probably a bit late to write the promised post on the World Puzzle Championships, but maybe I will next week sometime. Anyway, that took a fair chunk of my reading time, but, as it was the school holidays, I still managed to get through eight books – not bad.
But it’s the end of the month, so it’s time for me to pick the best of them – and provide one lucky author with a free advert via my wallpaper for the next month. Who will gain this literally priceless opportunity?