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This is part 22 of A Trivial Pursuit, a 25-part puzzle hunt. Each part is solvable on its own, with the exception of the meta-puzzle at the end.


Yesterday, I was asked to create some window displays for the bookstore where I work... well, worked...

Tasked with showcasing novels by the hottest authors of the moment, I took the time to read through their back-catalogues, and... well, let's just say I was very disappointed. As an act of protest before handing in my resignation, I set up a display for each author, showcasing nine of their books, particularly arranged in three rows of three, with the centremost book a little more prominent than the rest. I knew not many people would appreciate what I had done and why, but it made me feel a little better all the same...

What was going on? The answer is an 8-letter word...

Eight 3x3 grids of book titles, one grid per author

Text transcription (for accessibility):
SARA I. HITCHGATE: Top: A Choice of Two Dashes? / The Quartet of Enormous Proportions / Idiocy of a Deceased Male; Middle: Tired of Lemmings / A Quintet of Miniature Gluttons / The Cipher of Smokestacks; Bottom: A Trio of Sensible Snowshoes / The Beast of Unspeakable Tidiness / The Riddle of the Cerulean Drill.
WILMA LEAKIER-PHASES: Top: A Situation Made Amusing by Bungling and Incompetence / A List of Items to be Purchased on a Visit to the Supermarket / A Parcel of Minced Meat Cooked in a Tomato-Based Sauce; Middle: A Roman General, Statesman and Member of the First Triumvirate / A Festival to Mark the Coming of Epiphany / A Hollow Wooden Equine Statue Used as a Military Ploy; Bottom: A Lot of Fuss Over Something Which is Not Important / A Board Game with Sixty-Four Identical Black-and-White Pieces / A Settlement Smaller Than a Village and Lacking a Church.
INDRA CHECKLESS: Top: Silly Sausages / Remembering Rome / A Parable about a Pair of Places; Middle: Time to Talk / Where's Wilfred? / Desolate Dwelling; Bottom: A Companion in Common / High Hopes / Onerous Occasions.
NOEL J. ARCHER: Top: The Principled Student / The Bedtime Administrator / An Impeccable Agent; Middle: A Redundant Butcher / A Jealous Firefighter / The Perpetual Landscaper; Bottom: The Romantic Lumberjack / The Moribund Policewoman / A Very-Much-Desired Person.
E. W. CLISS: Top: The Nag And Son / The 2nd Pew / "The Cat, Hag, And Rig"; Middle: The End War / The Big Fat Hen / Mum And Dad Are Bad; Bottom: Nob Sea / Two For Tea And Jam / The Gun For The Old Man.
SEP KNIGHTEN: Top: Spaghetti / Cumulonimbus / Pyromaniac; Middle: Tetrahedron / Gravel / Tag; Bottom: Compartment / Sleeplessness / Despair.
TREY T. RETCH-TRAP: Top: Cantona/Dier / Counts & Duchesses / Custodians! Defenders!; Middle: Choke/Douse / Creating Dollars / Cats & Dogs; Bottom: Compact Deities / Corduroy/Denim / Cheese Dreams.
YEN BLONDIT: Top: …Haven't Got a Colin Dexter / …Go Down to John Banville / …Have a Dan Brown in Time; Middle: …On a Robert Louis Stevenson / …Are Milly Johnson / …Get the J.K. Rowling Back; Bottom: …Lose the Danielle Steel / …Harlan Coben Together / …Forget to Tell Rudyard Kipling.

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2 Answers 2

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Well, the eight-letter-word answer is

plagiary

but I only actually found the first seven of those letters. I inferred the word from the context: it's the only eight-letter word that starts with those seven, and what it means is relevant to the puzzle.

For the first seven letters,

find an anagram of the name beneath each of the first seven grids, which is an author's name, and find which grid entries above it are sort-of synonyms of one of that author's titles. These form a pigpen-ciphered letter in the grid; the letters spell plagiar.

Specifically:

Going through each grid in reading order:

Agatha Christie (P): N or M?, The Big Four, Dead Man's Folly, Five Little Pigs, The Secret of Chimneys, The Mystery of the Blue Train

William Shakespeare (L): The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet

Charles Dickens (A): A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations, Hard Times

John Le Carré (G): The Honourable Schoolboy, The Night Manager, A Perfect Spy, The Constant Gardner, A Most Wanted Man

C.S. Lewis (I): The Horse and His Boy; The Silver Chair; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Last Battle; Prince Caspian

Stephen King (A): Firestarter, It, Cell, Insomnia, Misery

Terry Pratchett (R): Eric; Lords and Ladies; Guards! Guards!; Snuff; Making Money; Small Gods

But for the eighth,

Enid Blyton,

I didn't know what to do until fljx pointed it out: so go see and upvote that answer.

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    $\begingroup$ For the final set: rot13(Ybbx ng gur Snzbhf Svir frevrf, naq lbh pna svg va gur sbyybjvat gvgyrf ol gur ersreraprq nhgubef - Gbtrgure Ntnva, Eha Njnl, Gernfher Vfynaq, Gur Frn) $\endgroup$
    – fljx
    Oct 23, 2023 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ @fljx oh, nice find. I think you oughta post a separate answer post with that one. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Oct 23, 2023 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ Will do. Watch this space. $\endgroup$
    – fljx
    Oct 23, 2023 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ I think it might also be worth mentioning that rot13(gur svefg yrggref bs gur nhgubef' anzr va gurve nantenzzrq sbez fcryy bhg "FJVARFGL", n ersrerapr gb hfr gur "CVTCRA" pvcure.) $\endgroup$
    – Alaiko
    Oct 23, 2023 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv good point; done $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Oct 23, 2023 at 18:03
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To fill in the missing final set in @msh210's answer:

Every square references another author, and if we replace the author's name with the title of one of their works, we get the title a book in Enid Blyton's Famous Five series:

  • John Banville - "The Sea" - "Five Go Down To The Sea"
  • Robert Louis Stevenson - "Treasure Island" - "Five On A Treasure Island"
  • Milly Johnson - "Together Again" - "Five Are Together Again"
  • Harlen Coben - "Run Away" - "Five Run Away Together"

    And that gives us the following:
    enter image description here
    Which is the final Y

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