I don't think I've started a month off with such a run of fine puzzles in my whole time blogging here at Horace & Frances (and me). It's always a delight to see Mr. Berry's name at the top of a grid. And today's doesn't disappoint, although the setup of the puzzle does separate it into three fairly isolated sections.
I broke in with DOMINUS - ah, Latin. Helps out from time to time. Especially for those of us who don't regularly (or frankly ever) attend church services. After I put OLE in, I hit a few snags. First of all, I was convinced that Count Count from Sesame Street might wear a bOlOtiE. I could even see it in my mind's eye. In fact, he wears a Central European type sash under his blazer and cloak. Hmph.
And then, I saw 14D: Post box's contents and tried usmaiL. Yeah. That was wrong. It's a lovely hidden capital, and CEREAL was the answer. So I started anew elsewhere. In fact, all the way in the SE corner.
39A: Tops of the Mounties (STETSONS) is a beautiful clue. No question mark needed. Have I made it clear prior to now how I think clues are improved by not using question marks? The bottom stack is brilliant. 45A: They're known as "Viennese bread" in Scandinavia (DANISHPASTRIES) raises the question of why nobody wants to claim credit for these delicacies? ELECTIONEERED reminds me of the outstanding Radiohead song. I don't personally enjoy STRAINEDPEAS, but it's a great answer.
After I got the bottom section, everything moved much more smoothly through the middle and up to the top. 29D: More south of the border? (MAS) is a well-parsed clue. I don't love the two car brands (XTERRA and LESABRE) but I was able to get both of them with little difficulty.
14A: Something work-related (COMPANIONPIECE) was a real challenge. I think the clue means something related to a work of art. I really wanted COMPANy to start the answer off. MOMMIEDEAREST is very good, but 1A: You'll see things in them you can't handle (DISPLAYCASES) gets a B for the cluing only, as the actual answer is a little dull.
Hardly anything to complain about (SEP is not really an abbreviation for September in my book), as is to be expected. Maybe Super Bowl Sunday's puzzle will delight as well?