Books are taking a bit longer than usual to arrive, due to COVID-19. Published ebooks are delivered immediately by email.

Cain's Jawbone

By Edward Powys Mathers

A paperback edition of the world's most difficult literary puzzle

Crime | Fiction
Published

Publication date: February 2021

Buy
book cover
You made Cain's Jawbone a reality. It's available in all good book stores now.
$30  + shipping
236 pledges

Two Paperbacks

Buy two of the infamously difficult puzzles in a pocket-sized paperback. Exclusively available from Unbound (in UK bookshops from July 2021).

PLUS:

  • 2 x Free Cain's Jawbone pencil
  • Room for notes at the bottom of each page
  • Printed 'cut here' lines for those who want to remove pages
  • Attempted solutions will still be marked
  • All correct answers will receive £250 Unbound credit voucher
Buy now

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for my book to get dispatched?

For books in stock we usually dispatch orders within a few working days. You will receive a dispatch email when your order is on the way.

Where can I get my book delivered to?

We have temporarily stopped taking orders for published books going to EU destinations due to BREXIT restrictions, but we deliver to most other countries worldwide. Enter your delivery address during checkout and we'll display the shipping cost when we know where to send your book. If your country does not appear on the list we are not currently taking orders to that destination.

If I buy an ebook, when will I receive this?

Ebook files are sent via email after checkout, or you can download them from your Unbound account.

Where can I buy a copy if there's none available through the Unbound website?

The book should be available to order from most bookshops, or you can support your local bookshop online by ordering from bookshop.org.

Still have a question? Visit our Help Centre to find out more.

If James Joyce and Agatha Christie had a literary lovechild, this would be it.  Daily Telegraph 

A unique hybrid of word puzzle and whodunnit.  Literary Review

Cain’s Jawbone is a 100 page whodunnit in which six people die. To find out who killed them, the reader must re-order the book’s pages. There is only one correct solution. To date, only three people have ever found it.

The story so far…

In 1934, The Observer’s crossword writer, Edward Powys Mathers, wrote a unique novel Cain’s Jawbone, published by Gollancz. The title, referring to the first recorded murder weapon, was written under his pen name Torquemada. The story was not only a murder mystery but one of the hardest and most beguiling word puzzles ever published and was only solved by two puzzlers whose names were later revealed in The Observer - but the solution to the problem remained a secret.

In 2017, the Laurence Sterne Trust (who after many months of research and good fortune had managed to unlock the secret of Cain’s Jawbone) partnered with Unbound to revive Torquemada’s challenge and Cain’s Jawbone was reissued as a box of 100 cards. A prize of £1,000 was offered, with a closing date of 19th September 2020. Astonishingly, there was a correct entry and the comedy writer and puzzle fiend John Finnemore claimed the prize.

The paperback

The interest in the puzzle continues to build so Unbound and The Laurence Sterne Trust have decided to keep the solution secret and re-release Cain’s Jawbone in book form.

You can order it now for delivery in February 2021, exclusively through Unbound (it will be available through all UK and US bookshops in September 2021).

And although the main prize has been claimed, we will continue to accept and mark entries.  Space for notes are provided at the bottom of the page, and if you order through Unbound, you’ll even get a free pencil.

Anyone who solves the puzzle before 31st December 2022, will receive £250 to spend supporting other book projects on the Unbound site (details for entry are contained in the book).

Buy

Quick select rewards

$30  + shipping
236 pledges

Two Paperbacks

Buy two of the infamously difficult puzzles in a pocket-sized paperback. Exclusively available from Unbound (in UK bookshops from July 2021).

PLUS:

  • 2 x Free Cain's Jawbone pencil
  • Room for notes at the bottom of each page
  • Printed 'cut here' lines for those who want to remove pages
  • Attempted solutions will still be marked
  • All correct answers will receive £250 Unbound credit voucher
Buy now
  • Edward Powys Mathers avatar

    Edward Powys Mathers

    Edward Powys Mathers (1892-1939) - known to his friends as Bill - believed that puzzles should be mind-bendingly difficult but equally rewarding when the solution was found. He introduced the cryptic crossword to this country in 1924 through the pages of The Observer newspaper. The British love a puzzle and grow very attached to crossword compilers, always looking forward to next week’s puzzle, and Torquemada had many loyal supporters. John Dickson Carr (US author of The Hollow Man, voted the finest ‘locked-room’ murder mystery of all time) was a friend. He believed that ‘there has never lived a man with such a wide knowledge of sensational fiction. Torquemada of The Observer read everything that was being written … and was already familiar with everything that had been written. And he never forgot any of it.’


    Powys Mathers was acknowledged as a brilliant translator in the early 1920s and was responsible for an edition ofThe Thousand Nights and One Night, more commonly known as The Arabian Nights; Black Marigolds (a favourite of our present Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy) and other ‘Eastern’ texts; as well as detective stories. He was also a critic specialising in reviewing crime fiction.


    In 1934 he published a selection of his puzzles under the title The Torquemada Puzzle Book. As well as some gloriously difficult crosswords, the book contained spooneristics, verbal games, telacrostics, triple cricket acrostics and anagrams - enough to keep a family occupied for weeks.


    The final 100 pages of the book contained the novel-cum-puzzle Cain’s Jawbone.


     

  • It looks like Edward Powys Mathers has not made any updates yet. Check back soon!

  • These people are helping to fund Cain's Jawbone.

    User avatar

    Matthew Mewett

    User avatar

    Stuart Butler

    User avatar

    Christopher Chollett

    User avatar

    Ryan Groesbeck

    User avatar

    Gareth Long

    User avatar

    Georgia Weeks

    User avatar

    Marchus Stensrud

    User avatar

    Jackie Pfahl

    User avatar

    Robb Gosset

    User avatar

    Maria Elena Gonzalez Ygoa

    User avatar

    Erika Erlandson

    User avatar

    Francesca Harris

    User avatar

    Kate Fox

    User avatar

    Vevekeanand Ramnarace

    User avatar

    Catharine Blacklock

    User avatar

    Liz Smith

    User avatar

    Stephen Usins Yeardley

    User avatar

    Snusu Hirvonen-Kowal

    User avatar

    Clive Lafferty

    User avatar

    Amanda Bley

    User avatar

    Joanna Calvey

    User avatar

    Nicola Rimmer

    View more
  • Tejas Waywal
    Tejas Waywal asked:

    What are the dimensions of the book?

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Hi Tejas, the book is an A format paperback, measuring approximately 178 x 111mm.