Despite being published in 1934, the puzzling mystery book Cain's Jawbone took TikTok by storm in 2021. Is it popular in the modern age because it contains a timeless mystery? Well, very few people can attest to how timeless the mystery is. In order to enjoy the story, readers must first figure out which order the pages go in. After completing that monumental task, they can then dive into assigning six killers to their victims. But only four people have ever been confirmed to have achieved the feat.
Now John Finnemore—one of the brilliant few who have solved the order of Cain's Jawbone—is working on a sequel to the book.
John Finnemore is a British comedy writer who some might know as the creator of the radio sitcom Cabin Pressure. When a crowdfunding campaign rereleased Cain's Jawbone in hardback, John Finnemore picked himself up a copy. In 2020, he become part of a very exclusive group of people who solved the impossible 100-page puzzle.
Working with Unbound—the publisher responsible for the original book's rerelease—Finnemore is penning a new installation to the literary phenomenon. Not much is known about the book at the moment. Even its title is referred to simply as "Untitled Mystery." The title is set to be revealed to the backers of the book's crowdfunding campaign, which, as of this writing, is currently still in progress, despite being 153% funded.
The book is said to be centered around a locked room mystery. A victim is stabbed to death within the study of a complete stranger. Despite the study being securely locked from inside, the police never found a weapon—or a culprit. Unfortunately, they couldn't dig up any credible suspects or motives, either. But can you?
The murderer has a set of 100 postcards tucked safely away in a locked drawer. One side of each card has text, and the other brandishes a picture which also serves as a clue in the gripping case. If someone were to organize them in the correct order, then they'd be able to solve not only the murder in the study but nine other murders that took place in the same year...
Finnemore explains that adding a visual element to the puzzle adds a certain level of internet proofing. While people in 1934 might be stumped over an obscure poetry quote, it's easy to do a quick Google search nowadays. Finding the meaning in the abstract is a little more challenging for search engines.
He also admits that the picture puzzle is a way of keeping people hooked on solving the mystery. Due to the extreme difficulty of Cain's Jawbone, many people took one look at the task and immediately gave up. While Finnemore stresses the visual puzzle is far from easy, it allows the brave souls who take it on to at least have something tangible to immediately set to work on before they start to unravel the insanity of the text clues.
As of now, the untitled Cain's Jawbone sequel is set to be released next year. And if you're determined to solve the original before moving on to the next phase, then fear not. An official Cain's Jawbone handbook is coming from Unbound in late 2024 or early 2025 to help you move step-by-step through the puzzle.