Sunday Morning Puzzle #98 --- The Secret of Ann and Don

A hot Sunday morning in late July. Best to stay inside where it is cool. Perhaps a cup of chilled organic Star Ruby grapefruit juice and the Times crossword puzzle. Yes…

But suddenly an urgent rapping at your door! Hmmm… You know that knock. It must be Special Agent Jones of the CIA. Whenever the Agency has a tough code to crack, they turn to you. After all, you are the country’s finest code breaker.

You greet Jones and offer him a glass of that tart chilled juice. The serious-looking man takes a seat on the couch, and begins to tell you his story:

The CIA has been hearing rumors of spy activity for some time, but nothing is specific. On top of the many national security issues facing the CIA, there will be a number of important state visits this summer. Several vital technological secret projects are in the works. Also there is always the danger some other unrecognized new spy caper is afoot. And to top it all off, the CIA has been asked to guard some super-secret government plans— so secret that they don’t even know what’s in them.

“We’re so busy right now, I hardly can get a good night’s sleep once a week,” laments Jones.

You express concern for Jones, but he brushes it off and continues:

“On Friday one of our informants passed us a coded message he pilfered from an un-named source. This informant, Roger Anderson, refused to tell us from whom he stole the note. However, Roger has been a reliable man in the past, and we believe this message may be important.”

Jones reaches into his pocket and produces a folded paper.

“Of course we tried all the usual methods to crack this code…but we got nowhere. Once again we are hoping you can use your keen intellect on this problem.”

You assure Jones you are glad to help. The Sunday crossword will have to wait. You offer Jones a second cup of juice, but he must go. You admire the talented Special Agent for his dedication and hard work ethic.

“By the way,” Jones adds, “Before you ask, the answer is ‘no’. We have not a clue about Ann or Don. Those names, right now, mean nothing to us.”

“Thanks. I’ll see what I can do,” You reply. “With any luck I’ll have this mystery solved by the end of the day.”

But can you do it?


ANNHASABADHEADCOLD – DONMAYHELPCUREHER

WSEST EWAH LOSIWAETT MTRIP TLTELIN E HEHSLHTH HDLPSHAPANE LIHEEE(2) E ALLVT O CE NRAS IV AESCNB(2) RS SNTTETN(2) I EIWOUA EHS HSRAATAMIOEGAAE AE EC UMANM E K F(2) ONRHE GD TNJ SOPTUTOESAEOPHTAIEOLORESAD(2) WAE NNCLOP DSDAHTSNNDI RPT A(2) QYOH I ITAER SGAFU LRICOSONTOTEEPRAWOON UGRD OOCNAOREGUTWRU(2) PF RTRMT RGOI IWSL


An alarming development!

Jones returns this evening with bad news. Early this afternoon the CIA received a call from informant Roger Anderson. Anderson told them that he had another cryptic message to deliver, and instructed Jones and company to send someone over to his apartment in the seedy part of town to pick it up.

When our agents arrived at Anderson’s third floor apartment, they found the door locked. They knocked loudly on the door. No response. Suddenly the CIA agents heard a muffled shot from inside the apartment. Quickly they busted down the sturdy door and entered. Anderson lay on the floor—dead from a single gunshot wound to the head. The window opening on to the fire escape was unlatched, and the agents could only just glimpse a running figure before it disappeared down an alley on the street below.

“We will have results from the crime lab soon,” Jones tells you in a worried voice. But I don’t think we’ll find much."

“Have you any leads at all?” You ask, the frustration growing in your tone.

“Just one,” Jones replies quietly. From his jacket pocket he produces another folded note. “We found this clutched in Anderson’s hand. It looks like he died trying to get us this message. Now our best hope is that you can figure out the fiendish code and put a stop to this business before another tragedy occurs.”


ANNISFEELINGQUITEBETTERNOW – DONDIDAGOODJOB
E H ENDED GDTWVBEH A AOJ I NERCIALTMWATNATROKMT UINNHGTOYW(3) TRNSIE(2) W NOTTHNGTT P3NM NHEE(2) AORR5 OO RE OMIREO2ARPIO ONAR AC LNETUPT CSHREKEINSGRHYH E EIXNS HOEOIA ODNAG C PRUNNWF GN TOYE REDI T DAHNORA(3) LTOSRTETU PHQPLH TI(2) ERMAOUI EORA7SN ORLICB UE AATTMTOCKECREVMFSEEMGK(2) I TI E LNERLUEAH RA WETNAYPX IIGGTAS TP(2) IBONIEOTCS HGTTUE NN COIA OHIIODITCHPGNB ENLUOA


Jones stops by with an update…

CSI units have been going over the crime scene at Anderson’s apartment. As predicted, there is little helpful information. It is suspected that the killer wore gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints. Nothing is out of place. The gun has not been found. Neighbors saw nothing, heard nothing.

Police were able to talk with Trixi Laboop, a waitress at a downtown eatery called A Taste of Spice in Alexandria Virginia. She had been dating Anderson on and off for a few months. Laboop said that over the past week Roger Anderson had become very agitated…mumbling to himself and keeping very distant from her. She had feared something was wrong, but he wouldn’t talk.

No help from the girlfriend, no witnesses, nothing from the crime scene.

“In short,” says Jones wearily, “It’s almost a perfect murder, except for the note that was left behind.”

“I’ve been working on it night and day,” You reply, hoping Jones has not noticed the half-finished crossword puzzle on your coffee table.

You continue: “It’s an annoying code. As I’ve told you before, most cryptic messages follow a very similar formula and are usually a reworking of one of a few simple methods. But somehow, this one seems different.”

“Balderdash!” Jones yells out. “A spy has to be able to decode a message quickly, it shouldn’t be too complex! And after all, many spies are not that bright, so a spy message can’t be very hard, for someone in the know, to decode. I don’t believe there are new codes. Only new variations!”

You know Jones is right, but this code is a challenge. Strange numbers…bolded letters… what can they mean?

“I think the key to this code is discovering the secret of Ann and Don,” You say. “Figure out what that’s about, and I bet the rest is easy.”

“And *I bet *you don’t have a lot of time,” says Jones in a very concerned voice. “My gut feeling is that the spies are just about to make their move…”

Well, we could just draw the shades, but we might as well check out the building across the street, arrest the morning janitor, and see what’s cooking in Alexandria.

For the file, there was one typo of little consequence: NHEE(2) was surely supposed to read NHHE(2).

Now, back to my crossword puzzle!

Frickn’ Le3t speak!1! It angers us!

Peregrine saves the day!

+++++
Jones stops in this morning. He is beaming.

“We’ve made several arrests just now, Our men raided the spy headquarters and nabbed everyone but Trixi Laboop. We suspect it is only a matter of time before she is in our custody as well.”

You congratulate Jones on his raid. “Looks like the Taste of Spice was really the Taste of Spies.”

“Yes,” responds Jones with a laugh. “It sure is a good thing you solved that tricky code when you did. This morning would have had an mighty different result otherwise!”

You pour Jones a grapefruit juice, and have one yourself. “Once I figured out that we had Don when we thought we had Ann, I saw that we could use Don to get Ann!” You say.

“Uh huh. You and your codespeak.” Jones takes a sip and relaxes. “I hope we never have to find out what’s in those secret plans.”

You hope so as well. But today is a time to celebrate a difficult job well done. Time to open a second bottle of juice!

Can someone relieve my misery and explain? Ack! :stuck_out_tongue:

( How 'bout it Peregrine?):

Jones pulls up a chair.

“I’ve got some time off tonight now that the immediate threat from the spies is past.” He takes a sip of chilled grapefruit juice. “How about you tell me just how someone goes about cracking such a quirky code. I mean, it even had a misprint and you solved it.” Jones takes a look at your coffeetable and smiles. “Anyone can see just by that completed crossword on the table that puzzle solving is you specialty. That’s the Sunday Times puzzle, and it’s done in pen.”

“Just a minute,” You respond amiably. “Let me first pour a full pitcher of this tasty juice and get some ginger snaps.”

“Oh by the way,” Jones says, “It seems that the janitor had taken down the shades to be cleaned this week, so the window was guaranteed to be set.”

“I figured as much.” You smile and take a seat in your favorite easy chair.

“And we have not caught Trixi Laboop. I think she is the mastermind behind this entire affair.” Jones leans forward. “But we’ll be ready if she tries any new codework! Ready, thanks to you.”

You smile. Success is its own reward.

“So how about it,” Jones continues. “Let’s have it. How did you solve this crazy code?”

You begin: “Well, it’s like this…”

Oh, Peregrine… I really think this should be your explanation… (because I’d like to know how you did it!)
You continue: “I wasn’t getting too far with this code, until I stopped and began working a crossword puzzle. That’s when I suddenly got an idea…”

The character count, of course, had told me at once that the puzzle was likely to be a rearrangement rather than a substitution. But what kind of rearrangement? The Q in the first message should have helped, since it had to match up with one of the five Us, and I thought I might be able to do something with the numerals in the second message. Still, I really wasn’t coming up with an effective plan for discovering the correct order for the characters.

Fortunately, I just wasn’t able to stop thinking about my unfinished crossword. It was inevitable, then, that when I kept coming back to the question of Ann and Don, eventually it would occur to me that Ann and Don could mean Across and Down, with the number of letters in their run-together sentences indicating the number of spaces in the grid.After that, it was easy. I guessed then that the bold letters indicatedstarts of sentences.and that the numbers in parentheses indicated multiple spaces.Naturally I had the text running the wrong way at first, but it was a simple matter to reverse Ann and Don. At least it wasn’t backwards!

The character count, of course, had told me at once that the puzzle was likely to be a rearrangement rather than a substitution. But what kind of rearrangement? The Q in the first message should have helped, since it had to match up with one of the five Us, and I thought I might be able to do something with the numerals in the second message. Still, I really wasn’t coming up with an effective plan for discovering the correct order for the characters.

Fortunately, I just wasn’t able to stop thinking about my unfinished crossword. It was inevitable, then, that when I kept coming back to the question of Ann and Don, eventually it would occur to me that Ann and Don could mean Across and Down, with the number of letters in their run-together sentences indicating the number of spaces in the grid.After that, it was easy. I guessed then that the bold letters indicatedstarts of sentences.and that the numbers in parentheses indicated multiple spaces.Naturally I had the text running the wrong way at first, but it was a simple matter to reverse Ann and Don. At least it wasn’t backwards!

I knew that was going to happen. You wait and wait for the lost post to reappear, then BAM, there it is, just when you don’t want it any more.

::golf clap for Peregrine::