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You are a detective working on a murder case. It seems all is wrapped up, except for one thing: the weapon. However, you have received an anonymous tip from Mr. Mister, who has a long history of tipping the police off in ways that are difficult to understand, but also being correct every time. He has claimed that he has sent you the location of the murder weapon. However, you are now faced with the following cryptogram:

Ilf eeo tmgaae pnr uu mfb aithhteom tab,
Cr wqp dfvd lwro nqpq vpns gvfa.
Vpbktm ddrmpl rfb nbg, rpbbk rgt idrfbm osbb,
Fa eadgdmab tt 'tp aa' bi kd mgiav ila esba.
"Epo'r uva ef eov spocv!", ilf eeo bte dsw,
Mp ilc mnqamresgdm, b oamrqo veoeamae cw.
"Cma wqq dnrmpl rporhli?" uncmmspoae Ead,
Mfb reo vcr eooay, ydm unmbr zcr fb.

Among the tip, there are also the following hints:

Fair play swapped will bring you success.

I like J2O.

My name is key to solving this puzzle.

You have very little time left, in fact, you have only enough time left to decrypt the tip and search in one place for the weapon.

So where should you look?


There is more than one aspect to this puzzle, which is the first one I have created myself, so I'm well open to suggestions for improvement!

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The message is encrypted with

a Playfair cipher. This is hinted at by "Fair play swapped will bring you success". They key used to create the table is "Mr Mister" and the table is

M R I S T
E A B C D
F G H K L
N O P Q U
V W X Y Z

The plain message reads:

The man stared out on the brilliant sea,
As you bent down upon your knee.
Whilst eating the pea, which was rather nice,
He declared it "to be" as he threw the dice.
"Don't owe me any money!", the man did cry,
In the supermarket, a person wandered by.
"Are you coming tonight?" questioned Dee,
The man was angry, yet quiet was he.

The location of the murder weapon is hidden in this text:

The poem contains several words that are homophones of letter names:

The man stared out on the brilliant C,
As U bent down upon your knee.
Whilst eating the P, which was rather nice,
He declared it "to B" as he threw the dice.
"Don't O me any money!", the man did cry,
In the supermarket, A person wandered by.
"R you coming tonight?" questioned D,
The man was angry, yet quiet was he.

The weapon is ...

inside the CUPBOARD.

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  • $\begingroup$ I fail to see how 'as' (/æz/) sounds the same as 'S' (/ɛs/). $\endgroup$ – George Gibson May 31 '16 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ The problem here is probably that I'm not a native speaker of English and that my native language doesn't have the /z/ sound, so I (mis-)pronounce as as /əs/. Anyway, I had marked the S instead of the U first. (By the way, I wouldn't pronounce the article "a" as /eɪ/ either.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm May 31 '16 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ There's a discussion on ELU here. I would usually use /eɪ/ though. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson May 31 '16 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ Well, once you see the pattern, the solution is clear, some mispronunciations notwithstanding. I haven't used the "J2O" hint, though. Does it mean the the J is omitted from the Playfair table? $\endgroup$ – M Oehm May 31 '16 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ The J20 hint was an old one I thought I'd use when I eventually did a cipher puzzle using the Playfair cipher, however I didn't realise it wasn't necessary for this puzzle. Anyway, it means that 'J' would be changed to 'O' in the Playfair table. $\endgroup$ – George Gibson May 31 '16 at 11:18

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