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  • Writer's pictureIlena Alvarez

The Cain and Abel Murder Weapon

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Here is the stated description of Cain’s Jawbone, by Edward Powys Mathers:

Six murders. One hundred pages. Millions of possible combinations… but only one is correct. Can you solve Torquemada’s murder mystery? In 1934, the Observer’s cryptic crossword compiler, Edward Powys Mathers (aka Torquemada), released a novel that was simultaneously a murder mystery and the most fiendishly difficult literary puzzle ever written. The pages have been printed in an entirely haphazard order, but it is possible – through logic and intelligent reading – to sort the pages into the only correct order, revealing six murder victims and their respective murderers. Only three puzzlers have ever solved the mystery of Cain’s Jawbone: do you have what it takes to join their ranks? Please note: this puzzle is extremely difficult and not for the faint-hearted.

“Cain’s Jawbone” is a reference to the murder weapon as described in the Cain and Abel story in the Bible.

This book was first published in 1934, where a prize of £15 was offered to those who could solve the 6 murders. Two individuals correctly solved the puzzle—S. Snyder-Turner and W.S. Kennedy.

The publishers ran the competition a second time, increasing the price, and a JOHN FINNEMORE, a comedian, correctly solved the puzzle in 2019. He solved the puzzle during a period of 6 months of our COVID-19 lockdown. He said: “The only way I’d even have a shot at it as if I were for some bizarre reason trapped in my own home for months on end, with nowhere to go and no one to see. Unfortunately, the universe heard me.” (As reported in The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.)

The competition continues. Only 3 have solved it but it is open to anyone who has the time to piece this intricate puzzle together. Pages in the book (once you take it apart), have clues scattered throughout, and honestly, if someone in 1934, who did not have the use of our modern technology, including Dr. Google, could solve it, I strongly believe that someone with fervent conviction can become the fourth.

May the fourth be with you...

Let us know if you attempt to solve the murders. The Friends would love to hear about your journey. The prize is $350 US Dollars.

And if you want a taste of what it would be like to enter this puzzle dungeon, press on this LINK to watch a video I found absolutely entertaining.

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