Welcome to Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up, a weekly opportunity to have a little fun and to get your brain in gear for the regular Sunday Puzzle (which now posts on Friday).

This is Mystery Month, during which I'm using these puzzles to spotlight great mysteries. Some of the spotlighted books are well-known classics; others are little-known gems.

Tonight's spotlighted title is not very well known, even among mystery readers, although the author was once very widely known. This person's writing has likely been read by as many people as Agatha Christie's -- and more often as well, especially from 1951 to 1968!

Find out who the author is -- and discover a good mystery to read -- by cracking tonight's puzzle. It's waiting for you right below...

This is a JulieCrostic.  If you're not familiar with this kind of puzzle, don't panic -- full instructions, and an example of what a completed puzzle looks like, can be found directly below tonight's puzzle.

If you'd like to take part in the group solving, come on down to comments and join in. Or if you'd prefer solving the puzzle on your own (or if you come along late, after the solving party is over) set your comments to SHRINK (so you only see the subject lines rather than the comments); then, if you get stuck, just look for a subject line identifying a comment dealing with one of the clues you'd like help with, expand and read that comment, and you're good to go. (I'll also be checking the comments periodically between now and next week, so if you do have any questions don't hesitate to ask.)

But please, do leave a comment (even if you're stopping by hours, days or weeks after the diary posted) so we can know you've been here.

Tonight's puzzle has 11 rows, with 3 answers per row. Here are your clues:

1. Limbaugh's end
2. track meet competitor
3. paralyzing poison

4. take a break
5. ogle
6. you can find yours by clicking the link in the WELCOME BACK box

7. pointed object
8. killed
9. kind of tap

10. the heat .   .
11. racket
12. wound

13. retrievers
14. merchandise
15. poked in a private place

16. verrrry interesting guy
17. following
18. travelled like Huck

19. the answer to 13 is your clue for 19
20. pizza part
21. big rigs

22. keep
23. cut close
24. safe places

25. famous caveman
26. put off
27. redoubtable

28. facial feature
29. quick bread
30. groups of 13

31. job
32. austere
33. run naked

As promised above, here's an explanation of how JulieCrostics work. (And immediately following the explanation, you'll find an example of what a completed puzzle looks like.)

An Explanation of JulieCrostics

What you do is solve the clues and write the answers in rows. (Tonight's puzzle has 11 rows, with 3 answers per row.)

Each word in a row contains all the letters of the previous word, plus one new letter. Write the added letters in the space between the word which doesn't have it and the word which does.

The vertical columns created by the added letters will spell out a word or phrase. The object of the puzzle is to solve all the clues and read the vertical message.

All the rows have the same word-length pattern. If the first answer in one row has 5 letters, then the first answer in all the rows will have 5 letters. For example, here's the answer diagram for last week's puzzle. That was a 4 x 5  puzzle (4 rows, with 5 answers per row).
or  T  rot  N  torn  E  tenor  T  rotten
at  H  hat  E  hate  S  haste  H  sheath
OR  E  ore  M  more  W  mower  I  IME row
HD  E  he'd I  hied  I  Heidi  N  hide in
The verticals read THEE  NEMI  ESWI  THIN -- which, when properly spaced, spells out The Enemies Within, a well-written mystery set in Indianapolis. It's the third book featuring untraditional private eye Albert Samson and is written by Michael Z. Lewin.
The Samson stories are told in the breezy first-person narrative form typical of private-eye novels. They are witty and somewhat off-beat, both for their plotting and their somewhat unusual setting, as well as for the sharply drawn relationships that Samson has with his mother, who owns a diner, and with his long-time but nameless girlfriend, whom he refers to only as "my woman". He eschews whiskey and chasing women in the manner characteristic of his fictional confrères, does not own a gun, makes modest, non-gourmet meals for himself from cans, and shoots hoops in the park as a recreation.
Last week's puzzle clues included references to Jame's Bond's creator Ian Fleming; to Johanna Spyri's classic Swiss children's book Heidi; to Randall Terry and the hate group he started, Operation Rescue; and to an Alaskan politician noted for her lack of parenting skills.
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