E. Powys Mathers
A 1920s mystery in a bizarrely fractured book
From The Guardian:
One of the world’s most fiendish literary puzzles – a murder mystery in which all the pages are out of order – has been solved for just the third time in almost a century.
Cain’s Jawbone was dreamed up by the Observer’s first cryptic crossword inventor, Edward Powys Mathers, who was known as Torquemada. First published in 1934, it invites the reader to reorder the book’s 100 pages – there are more than 32m possible combinations – and solve the murders within.
“The pages have been printed in an entirely haphazard and incorrect order, a fact which reflects little credit on somebody,” wrote Powys Mathers at the time. “The author assures his readers, however, that while it is now too late for him to remedy the ordering of the pages, it is quite possible for them, should they care to take the trouble, to re-order them correctly for themselves.”
Just two readers managed to solve the puzzle in the 1930s, Mr S Sydney-Turner and Mr W S Kennedy, both of whom won £25.
The solution was then thought to be lost, but three years ago the Laurence Sterne Trust was presented with a copy of The Torquemada Puzzle Book, and Shandy Hall curator Patrick Wildgust embarked on a mission to solve it. Once he did, the mystery was reissued last autumn by Unbound, with the publisher offering a £1,000 prize to anyone who could solve it within a year. It warned, however, that the competition was not “for the faint-hearted”, and that the puzzle was “phenomenally difficult”.
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 two 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.
NB This is a new edition of the last 100-page puzzle in Torquemada's 1934 "The Torquemada Puzzle Book". It is a limited edition boxed set in which the pages are printed on cards to facilitate solving.