### Solution: Predator

Written by Kevin Wald

In this cryptic crossword, there are two peculiarities in the entry of answers into the grid:

1. For any square where an across entry has a W, there is a down entry crossing it that has a V in that square, and vice versa. (No across answer has any Vs, and no down answer has any Ws.)
2. Except in the unclued middle row (where the "ravenous creature" is hidden), all A's, B's, and O's are omitted from all down entries. (In fact, each down answer is either intact, missing only A's, missing only B's, or missing only O's, and there are equal numbers of each, as it happens.) Since no across answer has any A's, B's or O's in the first place, this means that those letters appear nowhere in the grid other than the middle row.

The answers to the clues, with brief explanations, are as follows:

ACROSS
1. SNEER (S+NEE+R)
6. WEEPIE (double definition with WEE PIE)
10. WIN-WIN ([t]WIN + [t]WIN)
11. NEILL ([o]NE + ILL)
13. GREENING (NINE "over" in GREG = GRE(ENIN)G)
14. PEST (P + EST)
15. NINNY (double def.)
16. DISHETH (SHE'D HIT anagrammed)
17. ESPN (ESP + N[eeded])
20. FLIP (F + LIP)
22. THEY (THE + Y)
23. HERS (HE + R[ub]S)
25. GR. WT. (GROW TO - O's)
27. IRWIN (in theIR WINdow)
29. MEIJI ("crossing" tiME I JInx)
33. WEENS (W + E'ENS)
34. WHIRR (WERE homophone)
35. ISN'T (I'S + N + T)
36. MINE (double def.)
37. INNS (INS "will surround" N[eptune] = IN(N)S)
39. SNIT ("overturning" TINS)
40. KIWI (KEY WE homophone)
41. GENESIS (SEE SIGN anagram)
44. CITED (SITED homophone)
47. FLUS (FLUS[h])
48. SCHEDULE ("left" ELUDE "after" SCH = SCH + EDULE)
50. LISTS (double def.)
51. ELECTS (STEEL anagrammed "about" C = ELE(C)TS)
52. NINISH (double def. with "NI!" "NI!" "SH.")
53. TREYS (TRAYS homophone)

DOWN
2. NOIRISH (NO + IRISH)
3. EVEN (NEVE "is upset")
4. BRINY (BRAINY - A)
5. UNBIDDEN (U + NB + ID + DEN)
6. VANNA (VIENNA, writing A for IE)
7. EEGS (EG "penetrating" E'S = E(EG)S)
8. PLEBE (PLE[d] + BE)
9. ESTHETICS (THE TIC[k] "gets suppressed by" ESS = ES(THETIC)S)
10. VOGON (NO GO + V "over")
12. IPHIGENIA (I + anagram of HAG IN PIE)
18. PERU (PURE anagram)
19. CHIASM ("seen in" bronCHI AS Minor)
20. AFRAID (A + F + RAID)
21. NAVAJO (OJ + A + VAN "carried north")
24. SMOOTHER (SMOOT + HER)
26. HAVING FUN (HAN "captures" V + anagram of FUNGI = HA(VINGFU)N)
28. VACANTNESS (VETS SCAN AN anagram)
30. LOESS (SOLES anagram)
31. BRUIT (BRUT "masks" I = BRU(I)T)
32. URANIA (U + RAN + I + A)
34. VANISHER (&lit, V + AN + IS + [t]HER[e])
38. NOVELTY (NOEL + T[imidl]Y "keeps" V = NO(V)ELTY)
42. NUBBIN ("overturned" BUN + BIN)
43. SSTS (SS + T'S)
44. OCELOT (TOO "upset" "about" CEL = O(CEL)OT)
45. BIDER (BRIDE anagram)
46. DEBS (DEBRIS - RI)
49. COSH (double def.)

The grid (with * for the V/W locations) is:

```   SNEERU*EEPIE
*IN*INNEILLS
GREENINGPEST
NINNYDISHETH
ESPNCDFLIPNE
THEYHERSGR*T
HIR*INIMEIJI
ALUCARDTNUOC
*EENSU*HIRRS
ISNTMINEINNS
NSSNITIRKI*I
GENESISCITED
FLUSSCHEDULE
ULISTSELECTS
NINISHRTREYS```

Thus, the creature hiding in the middle row is COUNT DRACULA, who cannot be seen because he is mirror-reflected. He can be heard in the identification of V and W, and his victims have been drained of their blood-group letters (A, B, and O).

The hidden group of his prey, who can also be seen by looking down, were "each ensnared by the sound of his voice". The eight V/W squares come in four vertical pairs, which surround ("ensnare") the following vertical strings of letters: GNETHA, ENNY, NNIFRID, and JORN. These are just the members of the musical group ABBA (Agnetha, Benny, Annifrid, and Bjorn), who (through Dracula's feeding outside his lair) have lost their initial A's and B's (from which the group's name is derived, as a matter of fact). The group "couldn't hide the way he does" because its name is a palindrome -- mirror-reflecting it has no effect.

Thus, the solution is ABBA.