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Title: Another bird mystery solved!

Welcome to the LAT Jake. I know you have had some prior CHE puzzles published and a 2019 Universal, but at the moment that is all I know about you. You might be surprised by how many people have that name. Please come by and tell us about yourself.

This Friday challenge has many layers, including the dreaded circles for those who use the Mensa site for their solving pleasure. They will miss the unifying reveal and the answer to the mystery. The theme itself has two parts, symmetric linked fill that ask a question and 5 shorter fill (5 to 7) letters.

Before the themers are revealed, we must look at the longer fill that was woven into this tapestry. CARNAGE, EMAILER, NO DRAMA, SILLY ME,  EMBARKED,  IRON MASK, KEEP IT UP, and  WILD OATS are all very uncommon and despite that they as long or longer than the 5 middle themers.

17A. With 59-Across, old English nursery rhyme being investigated by the detectives in this puzzle: WHO KILLED (9).
And, 59A. See 17-Across (and see circles for the solution to the mystery): COCKROBIN (9) describe the mystery. HISTORY. There is a spoiler if you do not know.

23A. Wealthy TV sleuth Matt: HOUSTON (7). No doubt the least famous of the fictional detectives, the short-lived SERIES starred Lee Horsley a tall handsome poor man's Tom Selleck. Horsley's first role was as Archie Goodwin to William Cannon's Nero Wolfe and even shorter series.

26A. Hard-boiled sleuth Mike: HAMMER (6). Micky Spillane made an art of the shoot first ask questions later hero, brought to television first by Darren McGavin and then twice by Stacy Keach.

39A. Falcon-finding sleuth Sam: SPADE (5). Created by the incomparable Dashiell Hammett. He also wrote about the Thin Man and the Continental Op.

51A. Twinkly-eyed sleuth Jane: MARPLE (6). Agatha Christie's female tec from St. Mary Mead (Cabot Cove anyone) who paid attention.

54A. Wisecracking sleuth Philip: MARLOWE (7). Raymond Chandler's contribution to the genre (can you hear Alex Trebeck in your head?).

The solution to the mystery, if you do not know the story is in the circles and I will not spoil it. If you use the Mensa site, sorry.

It breaks some rules, but let us look at the rest.

Across:

1. Need in many outdoor games: BALL. And indoor games as well; well not all indoor games.

5. Basic card game: WAR. It is among the many games which helped me to learn how to count long before I started school.

8. Saltpetre: NITRE. I do not know why we do not have Saltpeter/Niter. I attended a private high school where I lived on the campus and ate all my meals there. We were told by the cooks that they were forced to put saltpeter in our food to quell our sexual desire. At the girls' school up the hill, they only served the hot dogs sliced. Life can be gross.

13. Takeout option: THAI. Just marry a wonderful Thai chef and you do not need takeout, except every so often for a quick vacation (not during COVID).

14. Camaro __-Z: IROC. A muscle car.

16. They may be crumbled in ice cream: OREOS. They also may be sprinkled throughout so many crossword puzzles.

19. Coffee mate?: DONUT. Cute clue even with the modern spelling.

20. German finale: ÉNDE. Inferrable?

21. Chaotic situation, in slang: CARNAGE. Not for me; carnage could be the result of a chaotic situation but I do not see them as interchangeable.

27. Northern sky sight: AURORA. If North, it is BOREALIS if south it is AUSTRALIS.

28. __ ballerina: PRIMA. Number one!

30. Where Charlie "may ride forever," in a 1959 hit: MTA. Once again brought to mind by Boomer, this time on Wednesday.

31. Gaming biggie: ATARI. This PIONEER gaming company has had some problems.

33. Watchdog org.?: ASPCA. I really enjoy this pun.

37. Exploit: MILK. I could give examples but I do not want to milk the opportunity.

41. Medieval Asian leader: KHAN. Khan is a contracted form of Khagan, from the Turkish khan meaning "chief or ruler." It was originally a hereditary title born by early Mongol leaders, such as the legendary Genghis Khan, but is now widely used as a surname throughout the Muslim world.

42. Consents: YESES. No!

44. Twosomes in the news: ITEMS. Are they really dating?

46. Guadalajara gold: ORO. Spanish. Is Lucy our only Spanish speaking regular?

47. Gulf of Aqaba city: EILAT. In antiquity, Eilat bordered the states of Edom, Midian, and the tribal territory of the Rephidim, the indigenous inhabitants of the Sinai Peninsula. The Midianites are an important part of the Book of Exodus.

49. Took the sloop: BOATED. Ugh. 40D. Left on a sloop: EMBARKED.

55. Spammer, e.g.: EMAILER. They attack so many ways.

57. City on Utah Lake: OREM. The 57th appearance in the LAT, including one in a puzzle I did with C.C.

58. Cordial relations: AMITY. The ironic home of the horror.

64. It's a fact: DATUM. One lonely piece of data.

65. Pain in the neck, e.g.: ACHE.

66. Roman fiddler: NERO.

67. Rickman role in Harry Potter films: SNAPE. RIP Alan.

68. Smidge: TAD.

69. Feint on the ice: DEKE. From decoy, I would guess.

Down:

1. FYI cousin: BTW. By the way.

2. Sound from a spa: AHH.

3. Vientiane native: LAO. My cousin Joe is married to one.

4. "Just watch me": LIKE SO. Eh.

5. Metaphor for youthful indiscretion: WILD OATS. If you want read a very complicated but thought out ETYMOLOGY here is your chance.

6. Former senator Specter: ARLEN. They like his letter distribution.

7. Caviar: ROE. Fish eggs are fish eggs.

8. Having a calm temperament: NO DRAMA.

9. Identity-concealing attire, in a Dumas novel: IRON MASK.

10. Coffee hr.: TEN AM. Or six, seven, eight...

11. Compact item: ROUGE. Nice next to your...

12. Perfume compound: ESTER.

15. Epidemic-fighting agcy.: CDC. I cannot comment without getting into politics.

18. Mural opening: INTRA. The word, not the art.

22. Sashimi selection: AHI. Tuna.

23. Given to overacting: HAMMY.

24. Navel type: OUTIE.

25. Eurasian divide: URALS.

28. Star-Lord portrayer Chris: PRATT.

29. Theme park staple: RIDE.

32. Samoan port: APIA.

34. One of many on a phone these days: PHOTO.

35. Rod in Cooperstown: CAREW. An all-time GREAT.

36. Positive pole, perhaps: ANODE. Cathode?

38. "Hang in there": KEEP IT UP. really?

43. "D'oh!": SILLY ME. Hi Homer.

45. More ticked off: SORER.

48. Sheltered side: LEE.

50. __ Joy: ALMOND. You can combine with your wild oats. RECIPE.

51. Honey drinks: MEADS. As old as beer and wine.

52. Capital south of Beirut: AMMAN. More BIBLICAL history.

53. Indian yogurt dip: RAITA. Not to be confused with TATZIKI.

54. Coffee shop order: MOCHA. More complicated than you thought...Mocha is a high-quality type of coffee made from a specific coffee bean. It's easily confused with the flavored drink also called a mocha, which combines coffee and chocolate. Mocha coffee beans are from the plant species called Coffee arabica, and it was originally only grown in Mocha, Yemen

56. Color TV pioneer: RCA.

60. It ends rather spookily: Abbr.: OCTober. Halloween humor.

61. Busyness symbol: BEE.

62. Tick off: IRK.

63. San Francisco's __ Valley: NOE. Here is a great LINK. One of my childhood nicknames was NOEY, no relation.

I really enjoyed the puzzle and all the places I ended up following Jake's train of thought. I hope we find out more about him today. Thank you all for coming by and for those who comment, keep it up?

                                            THE SPARROW!