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This is another good debut puzzle. Hand's offering shows that crosswords don't have to be especially difficult to be good. There is a well-balanced variety of clue types here and the clues read very smoothly. Favourite: 21 down.

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9 Take the surface off a tree (5)
10 Gad about and annoy Russian model (9)
11 Perhaps a sound six and then bowled, that's your lot (9)
12 A sharp sensation is the way with gin cocktail (5)
13 Find creativity in a little drink (7)
15 The centre of mis-made Slough is demolished (7)
17 Walker comes back to cover old ground (5)
18 Bob is not out before Penny (3)
20 Clever folk, those demons (5)
22 Swimmer ran drug organisation (7)
25 Paying monthly perhaps for phone storing electronic books (7)
26 Unit 28 detailed the thing in question (5)
27 Force restraint and the head of MI6 is in tantrums (9)
30 Childish creation with an elf in it (9)
31 Little dog comes back with two sizes of toys (5)

1 Special guests turned back by dodgy character (4)
2 It's uncivilised to be in charge after two bans (8)
3 Graeme Garden's heart is amazing (4)
4 Fire-starter held back by Benoit in Gironde (8)
5 Spies student in underwear (6)
6 "Siam Song" is out of place in this musical (4,6)
7 Disappear like a truck? (6)
8 The male set hangs oddly (4)
13 Woman's way with music (5)
14 Setter is working in the garden, grafting (10)
16 Executing one nationalist captured by Harry (5)
19 Lunatic is called in action (8)
21 Get storage exactly right with a small buffer (8)
23 Check about colour (6)
24 Purdah liable to hide flourishing beauty (6)
26 Company surrounded by money (4)
28 The power of three dice (4)
29 The window frame is wood (4)

Solution to Puzzle by Hand