The Westing Game

WestingGame6

NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1979

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

Age: 10+

Interests: mystery, crime, bad behaviour, treasure, murder

Penguin: 1978

216 pp. – 30 chapters

Also by this author: Figgs and Phantoms, The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel), The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues

Next: more mysteries!  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Holes, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Sixteen people are summoned to the reading of the will of multi-millionaire Sam Westing. In it he charges them with the task of discovering his murderer, and his entire fortune will go to the one who solves the mystery. The sixteen are paired up and each team is given a clue. The race is on…

This is a real, bona fide Mystery story, and a brain teaser for nearly any age. Each pair of detectives pursues their own leads and, while they begin as adversaries, by the end the whole group have somehow become closer to one another. Raskin reels out the story without filling in every blank; she’s certainly not afraid of challenging her readers. At the beginning the characters begin as two-dimensional stereotypes – the preening socialite, the oblivious jock, the shy Chinese wife – but as the story progresses the author fleshes them out into complex and surprising characters. By the end of the mystery they are real enough that we want to find out what happens to them in the epilogue.

With all the characters and a chaotic mass of subplots. some may find this book a little bewildering, but if your reader is motivated and loves a mystery, they should love it. For ambitious kids who want to read fiction at an adult-level of difficulty.

P.S. The 1997 movie version of this book can be found under two different titles, The Westing Game or Get a Clue. Unfortunately it looks to be a poor adaptation of the book, as it changes a lot of things, striving to simplify the rather baroque plot and cut down on the number of characters.

(available at amazon.com)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.