19
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Is my first part a bargain? Be careful! Not quite.
My next, when it's scarlet, means something's not right.
My third: to police, an invaluable tool
Can my last bit be neutral? It can't, as a rule.

If you gather my pieces together, you'll get
A massive and torrid affair, you can bet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is the solution a single word, or a phrase? $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jul 14 '15 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ The last two lines refer to one word. The lines before that are the parts of that word. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Jul 14 '15 at 2:34
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    $\begingroup$ Elegant, well-written riddle! $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jul 14 '15 at 12:21
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The solution is:

Conflagration
Since "an extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property" could be described as a massive (extensive) and torrid (hot) affair (event).


The breakdown in the first four lines is as follows:

Is my first part a bargain? Be careful! Not quite.

Con - Initially seems like a bargain, but is actually not (be careful).

My next, when it's scarlet, means something's not right.

Flag - A "red flag" is an idiom indicating a warning sign.

My third: to police, an invaluable tool

Rat - An informal term used to describe a criminal who gives information to the police

Can my last bit be neutral? It can't, as a rule.

Ion - a charged particle (by definition not neutral)

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ wow. I've never heard that word. and... How did you figure that out!? nice job. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 14 '15 at 3:18
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    $\begingroup$ @JLee - had a hunch the "torrid affair" was metaphoric, so was looking for words that were big/hot events. Then started with ion, as it fit well & is a common suffix. Using that as a starting place I went through lists of generated words based on reasonable guesses for the other parts (eg. deal, pact for the first, x, mark, etc for the second, cuff, gun, etc for the third). When I tried the pattern *flag*ion and got conflagration, I had a vague recollection it had to do with fire (and saw that con and rat fit well). $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jul 14 '15 at 3:52
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    $\begingroup$ @JLee you probably don't play enough RPG's as a Fire Mage. :-) $\endgroup$ – Zikato Jul 15 '15 at 13:17

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