Monday, December 24, 2012

Can You Figure Out What's In This Present?

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is my present to my brother. He's a pathological poke-and-shaker; he loves figuring out what all his presents are before he opens them. And so every year I get him a physical book, something he can't identify from its shape under the wrapping paper, and with it comes a series of clues as to who the author or what the title is.

In recent years I've shared the clues here on the blog. I'd like to invite you all: answer as many of the clues as you can in the comments, and see if together you can't figure out his gift before he does.

Don't be shy, even if you only know one answer, because that could solve the puzzle for the group. Check back every so often to see if others have gotten further ahead. It's a tricky one in this year. There are four "red herrings" - letters that aren't really in the title of the book, which you'll knock off as you get closer.

1. It's on the tip of your tongue. It's also in it.

2. There are four red herrings in this puzzle - letters that don't belong. This is one of them.

3. This letter is something two Christian afterlives have in common.

4. The 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th presidents of the United States all had this letter in common - on a personal basis.

5. If #4 is a red herring, then this letter is one of the three initials from the document that severed the colonies' ties to Britain.

6. Commonly used to freeze things, but you have to keep it under high pressure.

7. This is a letter that occurs more than once in the phrase "red herring."

8. If #7 is a red herring, this is the only vowel in a certain form of precipitation. Do we have any today?

9. What marks the spot?

10. Vote yay or nay.

11. Honey producing insect.

12. Four Romans get drunk at a bar. Three get kicked out. Who's left?

13. If #12 is a red herring, then this is the first letter of the northmost country in Africa.

14. The only letter used twice in the title of the bestselling book of all time.

15 The only consonant used twice in the name of an animal famous for spitting.

16.  Once you use it here, this letter will be the most common one in this title.


  1. 3. H or E
    4. E
    5. D or O or I if 4 is red herring
    6. N
    7. R or E
    8. O if 7 is red herring
    9. X
    10. Y or N
    11. B
    12. I ?
    13. T if 12 is red herring
    14. B
    15. L

    Question: for the clues that begin with "If," are they automatically red herrings when the previous clue is not?

    I'm getting something close to "Henry Bible," but I can't quite pull it together....

    1. Good sleuthing so far, Richard!

      As for the question: yes, if the previous clue isn't a red herring then the "if" is.

  2. I want to say The Knox Bible, but I cannot find the K. When's the reveal, tomorrow?

  3. My above guess also does not seem to work with the "if" red herring situation.

  4. My guess is that one it a T, and my other guesses have been posted by Richard. How long does it usually take your brother? It is Christmas morning here, so the wait would be over.

    1. The wait will be until 11 or 12 tomorrow morning in the U.S. - about 15-17 hours from now.


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