by Tom Cutler
IT'S somehow fitting that the reader needs to consider the full title of Tom Cutler's delightful little book to get an understanding of what it's really all about.
So here it is: "The Pilot Who Wore a Dress And Other Dastardly Lateral Thinking Mysteries".
It's essentially a collection of riddles, mysteries and puzzles to tease your brain.
Here's a simple one to be going on with: four bodybuilders are huddling together in the street, under a small lady's umbrella, yet after 20 minutes none of them has got wet. How is this possible?
To keep things interesting, Cutler mixes things up into classic brainteasers and locked-room head-scratchers as well as "unsolvable" crimes borrowed from detective fiction.
In most cases, the text setting up the puzzle or riddle to be solved extends to just a few pageswith the solutions tucked away at the back of the book.
If you're looking for red herrings, you'll find plenty to be going on with here. Half the joy of this book is the "Ah!" moment when you discover that you've failed to sniff out something so obvious in retrospect.
There is great pleasure to be derived in reading carefully through the text looking for clues casually dropped along the way. As the subtitle of the book implies, lateral thinking is required in many cases.
The author has an interesting back story filled with numerous false starts: as a teacher, a set designer, speechwriter, primter, wine waiter and "city drone". A practising magician and member of the Magic Circle, he is also a long-standing Sherlock Holmes aficionado.
He acknowledes that "a lifetime's experience as a very devious bugger" has doutbless helped him with this book.
Oh, and those bone-dry bodybuilers under the umbrella? Well, who said it was raining...