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Puzzle maker Henry Hook dies after a long illness

Henry Hook, a longtime creator of the Boston Globe Magazine's crossword puzzle, died on Tuesday after a long illness, according to several of his friends.

Hook's puzzles started appearing in the Globe in 1986, and were published every other week.

His colleagues on the puzzle, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, spread the news of his death earlier this week. They said he had lived in Brooklyn.

"We're very sorry to report that Henry Hook, our longtime partner in the construction of Boston Globe Sunday crosswords, died on Tuesday morning,'' they said by e-mail. "He had been ill with diabetes, and underwent a surgery this summer from which he had a troubled recovery.''


Hook began working with crossword puzzles in the early 1970's, according to a blog post this week by Will Shortz, the New York Times' puzzlemaster. A teenager, Hook came upon a puzzle by legendary puzzle-maker Eugene T. Maleska, which when completed would reveal a hidden message.

Hook mailed off his own version of the puzzle to Maleska, encrypting a message to his elder: "What makes you think your puzzle is more remarkable than mine?"

In his blog post, Shortz reported that he and Hook also worked together at Games Magazine. He said Hook had 58 crossword puzzles published in the Times and made a daily crossword for King Features Syndicate.

"Man, he was good,'' Shortz wrote.

In a profile headlined "the Riddler,'' a 2002 New Yorker article described Hook as "a brilliant and oddly beloved misanthrope, administering exquisite torture through dozens of puzzle books and syndicated crosswords.''

Hook clearly took joy in his craft.

"I got into this business to torment people," he was quoted as saying in the New Yorker. "On that line on the tax form where they ask for your occupation, I'd like to put 'Grand Inquisitor.' "