A cryptic, chemical, captivating crossword (with prizes) from @erskine_fiona #TheChemicalReaction

Ahead of the forthcoming print copy of The Chemical Reaction by Fiona Erskine (of which much more later in the week – so keep your eyes peeled) take a look at the author’s prize crossword. Just the thing to keep you entertained this weekend. Lets face it once you’ve had your permitted exercise, done any essential shopping and (as a last resort) finally attacked the ironing pile you’ll need some thing else to keep you distracted and entertained.   


Fiona Erskine

If you’ve not come across Fiona Erskine before you might be wandering why the chemical attraction, well that’s simple, Fiona is an engineer by day and a writer by night. In her day job, she runs an international company with activities in over forty countries.  In the past she’s turned rock into fertilizer, recycled solvents, recovered precious metals, brought medicines to market, made amazing new polymers, demolished factories and directed international construction projects.


So Fiona knows her stuff and having read her first book The Chemical Detective I can say she puts her knowledge to good use, but not in a dry and dusty way. Her feisty main character Dr Jaqueline (Jaq) Silver is an explosives expert who ‘blows things up to keep people safe’. She’s an intrepid jet-setter with a penchant for a younger man – she’s living my dream! When your first introduction to her is “A strange bed, a naked man and a few hours to kill before the explosives arrived” well who wouldn’t want to know more? There was certainly plenty to discover. It’s a thrilling adventure, that takes Jaq (and us) on a hair raising chase across Eastern Europe and ultimately to Chernobyl to stop the transportation of illegal chemicals unleashing untold damage. If you’re thinking that chemicals are not your thing, think again, I nearly made the same mistake.  It’s an exhilarating read, and great to see an older woman at the helm making her unique way in a predominantly male environment.



The Chemical Reaction Prize Crossword

So onto the challenge or as Fiona puts it:-

An element a day keeps the doctor away….

In my novel, The Chemical Reaction, I’ve indulged in a spot of chemical cryptography.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to give you the letters you need  to complete a crossword, with a prize awarded for identifying the secret element.

Each post will introduce you to

One of the characters in The Chemical Reaction

One of the treasures from the Emperor Qianlong’s (1735-1796) jade collection

One of the seventeen rare earth metals

One or two of the letters you need to complete the crossword and find the missing element



Crossword 2

Cryptic clues

Across Clue Letters
3 A toilet, it’s said. 2
4 Mauveine, for example? ‘E’s gone! 2
5 Generous bosom found in the middle of puddle 2
8 Meet with Len about part 7
9 Wound the church? 6
10 Provide confused sly pup 6
Down Clue
1 Overlay backed and led about to separate ore 6
2 Powerful and, oddly, main GCHQ toy 6
5 Artificial duck sitting within hide, coyly observed 5
6 Short man of the cloth 3
7 Slope hit with first powder 4
9 Put out in his tub 4


The first additional letters clue can be found here and it will also direct you to the next clues.

So what are you waiting for there are some cracking prizes which include


One little panda (I’ve got my eye on him!)

One  rice-paper notebook

One embroidered silk hanging

A set of bookmarks

Preserved cherries, tea and other Chinese delicacies

Copies of The Chemical Reaction and The Chemical Detective 





Complete the crossword and identify the secret element

Email Fiona at thechemicaldetective@gmail.com

  • Put the solution (a one or two letter symbol for the extra element) in the subject line

For example Na for Sodium

  • Insert the completed crossword in the body of the email.

And just in case that’s too easy, anyone who adds a new mnemonic to help me remember the 17 rare earth elements will get a special prize

Any public entry on Twitter or Instagram leads to instant disqualification! And worse….

Closing date – to be determined

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