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Paperback SOG

The two millionth copy of my book, a 'C' format UK 1st edition of Shades of Grey
Handbound in grey with with grey marbled covers and gold embossed spine.



For the launch of One of Our Thursdays is Missing there is another Sleuthing competition, so get sharpening your wits. I have scattered clues about the book for some really tricky sleuthing questions that will need more than Google and Wikipedia to figure out.

I have (apparently) sold 2,086,424 copies of all my books to date (12th Jan 2011), so the prize is the official and obviously representative two millionth copy of my book which we estimated we passed soon after SoG was published in January 2010. I had it rebound by the Hay Bookbinders, and it will be signed by me. Oooooooooh.

2nd May 2011: This competition has now closed. The answers and winners are written below.




Who's who? BannerSamplers

The Rules

On offer as a glittering prize is the signed two millionth copy of my books (more or less), which happens to be a UK C format 1st edition of Shades of Grey.

Such a stonkingly worthless gift cannot be simply given away. You're going to have to work for it, and that is why I have devised some utterly fiendish questions to test all you budding Sherlocks out there.

The rules are dazzlingly simple. All you have to do is answer the following questions (or as many as you can) and submit them to me at jasper(at) jasperfforde.com. with 'Sleuth' as the subject line. (It helps keep my inbox tidy as it will auto file)

All the correct answers received by the 1st May 2011 (or if no-one gets them all, then the most complete answers) will be put into my largest hat and pulled out at random. Answers will be published on this page around the 2nd May 2011, and anyone can enter whether you have bought a book or not. You can borrow a copy from a library or a friend, if you have one.

Four runners-up will be given sets of my postcards, and there are no extra points for entertaining yet incorrect answers. Judges decision is final, and note that this is all for a bit of fun. Prizes have no value, and no cost is required to enter or find out who won, or receive the books and cards.

No emails are harvested, and no entrants will be added to any datbases or be subjected to endless news about new publications. If you want that, then join my twitter feed.

Note: These questions are all GENUINE questions and can be worked out by thought, a bit of logic, research and observation. Take your time. Team up if necessary. No hints. If you can't figure them all out, send in what you can. It's possible no-one else did either.

I often clarify issues over questions once they have been posted, so if you are confused, then either email me or look back here to see if anything has been added.


Well, we had a sackload of answers from around the globe, of which the average mark was 7.2 out of a possible 13. Out of all the answers we had three totally correct answers. But before we decide who the winner is, let's look at the questions and the answers:

The Questions:

1: Who is the red-haired gentleman who talks to Thursday on the bus?

There are clues as to Kiki's simian parentage within the text - being very hairy for one, and 'nut-brown hands that folded tightly against the knuckle' for another. Once you've figured out that he's an ape, it's a short hop to an Orangutan as only they are red-haired. A brief search on the interweb will quickly reveal that Kiki was the murderous Orangutan from 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' by Edgar Alan Poe, published in 1841, and often thought of as the first true detective novel. Incidentally, "kiki' is not his name in Poe's book, I gave him that.

2: What has a clause at the end of the pause?

A cat has claws at the end of its paws. It's an old riddle I learned from my father.

3: At the end of the Mimefield chapter, Thursday and Sprockett meet a version of Sigmund Freud. What was his lament all about?

Oddly enough, Freud was not always a pipe-smoking psychoanalyst with a beard and hat. In his youth he spent a lot of time dissecting eels to discover if male eels develop reproductive organs later in life, which in fact they do. This was in Trieste in the 1870s. He dissected about 400, apparently. Clearly this Freud is none too happy with his psychoanalytical work as the German translation (roughly) is: 'Blast! If only I had stuck to dissecting eels!'

4: There are many red herrings littered about the book. How many can you spot?

I meant this question literally - 'herrings which are red'. There are four: Red Herring himself, Carmine O'Kipper (Carmine=Red, Kipper=smoked herring), Hareng Rouge being French for 'Red Herring' and also the title of the book 'The Murders on the Hareng Rouge' being a clue back to the Kiki question. The last was Skeddan Jiarg, which is Manx for red herring. Simple. It is now possible to gain thirteen points in a ten-question competition.

5: To guard against reader intrusion, the ungenred zone is covered in Soporific paint in order to cause hacking readers to fall asleep. Why is the colour the shade of young lettuce?

Any fan of Beatrix Potter will know that the effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies of young lettuce was to make them soporific, probably the first long grown-up word many of us encounter. Any answer with 'Beatrix Potter' or 'Flopsy Bunnies' in it was correct.

6: As regards Thursday's explanation of what happened in 'The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco', there was talk of Sir Christopher Wren. Why would he be delighted?

Most people got this, as a quick tour of Wren's life will reveal that without the rebuilding of London after the great fire of 1666, he may not have attained the fame that he did.

7: During the 'Oversized book chase', which painting did Sprockett and Thursday hit when they went through the works of Thomas Gainsborough?

Lots of interesting ideas here, but only one correct answer. The Men in Plaid hit the Duchess, so it wasn't that. The clue is in the 'brace of partridge' jammed under the windscreen wipers of Thursday's car. A few people thought it from a Gainsborough painting with partridges in it (of which, I think, there are two), but I was thinking of a painting that might once had partridges in them but doesn't any longer - and for this we go no further than 'Mr and Mrs Andrews' and the curiously empty patch on her lap. Conjecture abounds as to what was once here, but wise money has it as a partridge, likely because of Mr Andrew's gun and dog, and their social position as wealthy landowners. Hopefully we can get the partridge back soon, to once more complete the picture.

Mr and Mrs Andrews

The painting as displayed in the National Gallery, London.

Mr and Mrs Andrews

Detail of Mrs Andrew's lap.

8: On Vanity Island, why is the square outside Fanfiction called 'Sargasso Plaza'?

The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is a prequel to Jane Eyre which helps to explain Bertha Rochester's madness and the pre-story of the events in Jane Eyre. Some argue that it is a good example of published fanfiction, if that isn't a contradiction in terms. Echoes of The Eyre Affair here, to be honest, as referenced in TN6.

9: What was the Greatest Oversized book of All Time?

Lots of books suggested here, but the clue is in the capitalisation of the question. G.O.A.T. was the shortform of a book called Greatest Of All Time: A tribute to Muhammad Ali which was published by German publisher Taschen. The volume tipped the scales at 75lbs and cost 5000. The first 1000 editions were signed by the boxer and Jeff Koons. The book contains a photographic study of Ali, and the deluxe collector's edition reputedly came with a dedicated table to rest it on. There were 10,000 copies printed in total, and apparently they are not yet all sold.

10: How did Thursday get back across the causeway that led to Fanfiction?

This was based on a brain-teaser popular in my household where we like posing puzzles of one sort or another. Because they only shoot people coming back across the causeway and not people walking away, one merely has to walk for twenty-five seconds, turn and walk away for ten, then repeat the procedure until you are safely across. There! And you thought it was tricky!

Okay, well of the three totally correct answers we received, the entrant picked at random by our random entry picking machine was .... Creig and Gabrielle Donnald of Maryland, USA.

Congratulations to them both, and my thanks to everyone who took part.

Right, back to Dragonslayer2. Now, where was I...?

Jasper Fforde 2nd May 2011