This Thriller Novel Requires You To Cut Up It's Pages To Solve A 1930s Murder Mystery

If you're an Agatha Christie or a 'Cluedo' fan, you might wanna get a copy.

Cover image via David Spira/Room Escape Artist & Caroline Smith/SFGate

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Cain's Jawbone, a 1934 murder-mystery novel written by Edward Powys Mathers under the pseudonym Torquemada, has a reputation for being "the world's most difficult literary puzzle"

The 100-page novel is numbered out of sequence, and part of the puzzle is to reorganise the pages (a.k.a. you have to quite literally tear the book apart and put it back together). The novel went viral back in 2021 after a TikTok user named Sarah Scannell documented her own journey deconstructing the book and piecing it back together. 

Since then, the novel has earned quite a following amongst bookworms and murder-mystery lovers around the world, but most of them have not been able to solve it.

Image via The Awesomer

Figuring out the plot of the novel is part of the mystery as well. What is known is that there are six victims and six murders that take place, and evidence is provided in the form of word play, puns, references, and spoonerisms. 

In other words, you really need to know your stuff and do a lot of research to solve the puzzle. 

Only four people have ever solved the novel, which has approximately 32 million possible combinations

While a lot of people have tried, all of them have failed, with the exception of the four people who have managed to correctly piece together the mind-boggling mystery. The solution to the novel has never been publicised.

The most recent reader who successfully pieced together the novel in the correct order is British comedy writer John Finnemore, who solved it back in 2020. 

That should give you an idea on how hard it is to solve the novel.

Image via Oddity Central

Following the novel's spike in popularity in 2021, publishing company Unbound held a competition to celebrate the novel's comeback, as well as to find people who are able to solve it. It is unclear whether the competition is ongoing, but based on an update from the community on Reddit, Unbound is still accepting submissions until the end of this year.

Overall, though it may seem impossible to solve, Cain's Jawbone looks like a fun puzzle to try out.

Do you think you have what it takes to solve the world's most difficult literary puzzle? Get a copy and try for yourself.

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