The Westing Game

The Westing Game

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

Genre: YA Mystery
Published: April 12th, 2004
by Puffin Books




Where there's a will, there's a way—and Sam Westing has left quite a will!

One fateful day, sixteen people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. To their surprise, the will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing's murderer. Forging ahead, through blizzards, burglaries, and bombings, the game is on. Only two people hold all the clues. One of them is the Westing heir. The other is you!


What wouldn’t you do for a cool $2 million?

There isn’t much to be said about this that hasn’t already been said about the wonderful book that is The Westing Game, so this review will be short and simple. In short: There is so much to love about this book – from it’s endless twists and turns to its countless red herrings – that it will almost surely leave you spellbound.

With a premise that’s relatively reminiscent of the movie Clue (but with a much more intricate ending and more emphasis on the characters), Raskin’s Newberry winner follows 16 people who are invited to read the will of a famous millionaire.

Who were these people, these specially selected tenants? They were mothers and fathers and children. A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. And, oh yes, one was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake. Barney Northrup had rented one of the apartments to the wrong person.

The catch? One of these 16 people was the one that killed him – and it’s their job to find out who…before the killer strikes again. The heir that is able to guess the murderer will earn a cool $2 million and inherit the Westing estate.

The genius of this book – besides its spellbinding and absolutely unpredictable ending – is Raskin’s writing style. She implants clues in exactly the right spots, and adds more than enough red herrings to keep you on your toes guessing. It truly is a gifted mystery writer who is able to do this so skillfully.

From a character standpoint, this is genius. With sixteen main characters to focus on, Raskin’s electric cast might at first appear a bit daunting. You may struggle remembering who is who for the first hundred pages or so, and during that time I recommend using a handy cheat sheet like this one to help you keep everything organized so you can focus entirely on solving the mystery.

Raskin’s attention to detail on each character is amazing. Each of her characters are skillfully developed and have unique and identifying traits to them. From the grumpy business-like Mr. Hoo to the perfect View Spoiler » Angela to the brilliant but fierce Turtle…each character has traits that made me connect with them. Each character has secrets and layers to them…and you truly never know who they are and their role in the mystery until the very end.

All in all, Raskin has concocted something that every mystery fan will instantly gobble up delightfully. Raskin is one heck of a storyteller because I constantly guessed and second-guessed who I thought was the culprit (and turned out way off on each suspicion, mind you)!

Turtle, you’ll always be a hero to me.


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