1979: The Westing Game (murderers, bombers, and stock brokers, oh my!)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 4/5

A delight for lovers of mysteries and riddles, Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is a clever and fast-paced book that promises to both entertain and solve a murder mystery at the same time.

The Westing Game begins with sixteen people seemingly at random moving into the same apartment complex, but things are not nearly as much of a coincidence as the reader might think. Things get complicated when a murder occurs at an old house of the street, and they are forced to play a game wherein they must solve the clues to find the murderer. As the mystery plays out, their connections to the dead victim are revealed, and they find out that some people have a deeper and darker history with Sam Westing than what was originally let on.

Having read this book before as a child, there was not much that could surprise me. Luckily, The Westing Game lends itself to being reread as you can catch all the red herrings and clues that were missed the first time. It’s fun to see how all the clues come together and how the author pieced the book together in order to come to a certain ending.

While there is a varied cast of characters, some individuals get a bit more depth than others. Turtle starts the novel as a bratty child who constantly feels upstaged by her older, more beautiful, sister, but quickly ends up an expert at running the stock market. Her sister, Angela, also gets a nice arc about not settling for what her family wants and instead going after her dreams. The characters of Otis, Crow, Sandy, and Judge Ford also have some surprises up their sleeves, but many of the other characters fall flat despite having eccentric personalities.

The one thing that dragged the book down was the writing style. The sudden changes in point of views were rather jarring as each paragraph would jump to a different character’s perspective. With sixteen main characters, the constant jumping around left me feeling that many of the characters could have been better served with more time spent with them.

As a child, this was one of my favorite books that I could read over and over again. I would still definitely recommend it for those who enjoy solving puzzles and riddles, as there are plenty of mysteries to figure out in The Westing Game.


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