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 the very strange will of the very rich Samuel W. Westing. To their surprise, the will turns out to be a contest, challenging the heirs to find out who among them is Westing’s murderer – and the winner may become a millionaire! Forging ahead, through blizzards, burglaries, and the attacks of a mad bomber, the race is on. Only two people hold all the clues. One of them is a Westing heir. The other one is you!
The Westing Game is a classic whodunit mystery story. Sam Westing, a millionaire has been murdered and upon arriving at his mansion for the reading of Westing’s last will and testament, an eclectic group of possible heirs discover that old Uncle Sam had a penchant for games. Most of the people gathered together have some connection to Westing, either the fact that they live in Sunset Towers, a building owned by Sam, they may work there, be a cleaning lady, doorman or delivery boy. Others are not so apparent, such as the little girl named Turtle who likes to kick people and play the stock market and Chris a teenager who suffers from a medical condition that keeps him trapped in a wheelchair, unable to talk clearly or avoid what seem to be seizures. But regardless of how they are linked to Sam Westing, he has chosen them to compete in a game, the object is to uncover which of them is responsible for his death, the reward is the title of heir to Samuel W. Westing and two million dollars. When the game begins the sixteen people are put onto teams of two and handed an envelope containing clues in the form of 4 words. The only additional instruction is “It’s not what you have, it’s what you don’t have.”
The mystery, clues, crazy happenings and hidden secrets are all well and good in this book. But, they all take a backseat to the awesome array of characters. Since childhood I’ve been a fan of the movie Clue, and the board game it was based on. What made Clue work was the mixture of personalities and the linking histories behind them. In The Westing House, the reader is swept up in the fast-paced action, as the heirs discover things about themselves and others that they never knew. I think it’s most important to emphasize how they change their own opinions of themselves. For this being written as a children’s book, there is quite a depth of meaning behind the various characters development. It may seem at times that Sam Westing was just a rich old man who wanted to play mind-games with people, but he actually ends up teaching them quite a bit about themselves and their lives. And in the process helping them to become better people, or maybe just guiding them to being the people they were always meant to be.
This is a book that I regret having not read sooner. I chose to read this book as part of the Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge. Dewey stated in her review that she caught on to the mystery of the will early in the story, but then she wrote this:
“I loved the format of the novel, the interesting characters and the sub-plots enough to make up for knowing the mystery of the will, though, and I definitely recommend this for kids, especially those who like mysteries. Or, you know, adults reading all the Newbery books or adults who just like kitdlit.”
That was why I decided to read this book, knowing that Dewey enjoyed and recommended The Westing Game even with the mystery being obvious, was enough to make me realize it would be a terrific book.
About The Author
Ellen Raskin (1928 – 1984) was an American writer, illustrator and fashion designer. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up during the Great Depression. She married Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American, in 1965. Raskin was also an accomplished graphic artist. She designed dozens of dust jackets for books for 15 years including the first edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic A Wrinkle in Time. Primarily a children's author, she received the 1979 Newbery Medal for her 1978 book, The Westing Game.
|Title:||The Westing Game|
|Book Genre:||Children's Fiction – Mystery|
|Book Type:||Paperback 185 pages|
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