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The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game (original 1978; edition 1997)

by Ellen Raskin

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6,564222578 (4.15)2 / 186
Title:The Westing Game
Authors:Ellen Raskin
Info:Puffin (1997), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:YA fiction

Work details

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

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Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
This was a reread of a book I remember fondly from childhood with my son--probably too old for him, and I suspect much of it went over his head, but he was game nonetheless. It held up well for me. Still love the characters, the setting, the fun mystery. The reading went slow (this is not a good read-aloud book), and I kept wanting to race ahead to the end. I hope my son will pick this up again when he gets older and enjoy it as much as I did as a young reader. ( )
  sturlington | Feb 6, 2016 |
Heads up: this is not a great candidate for a read-aloud to your kids. Although I enjoyed it, it is VERY intricate and there are some portions that just need to be seen to understand - Turtle's stock market trading, some of the puzzles are hard to understand without reading, etc.

I read this probably for the first time in 5th grade, and remember having fond memories of it - weirdly, I remembered VERY little about it when I went to reread it.

It's a neat puzzle, but a lot of the characters - most - are just straight-up unlikeable. It's a little paranoia-inducing.

All in all, I didn't love it upon rereading it as an adult. And my kids (9 and 5) were kind of like, huh? What happened again? So, there you go. Maybe suitable/understandable for kids a bit older, that can read it on their own. ( )
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
Oh, my stars …

Sam Westing is a wealthy but secretive and intensely private industrialist (think Howard Hughes) who manipulates a group of seemingly unconnected people into all living in the same apartment building. A couple of months later his body is found in the Westing mansion, which the apartment building overlooks. All these people are invited to the mansion for the reading of Westing’s will. But it’s far from straightforward. The 16 heirs are paired, seemingly randomly, and each pair is given a $10,000 check with which to work. Each pair is also given clues – different clues for each pair – to the mystery of which one of those present actually took Sam Westing’s life. The will stipulates that the person who answers correctly will receive the entire $200,000,000 estate!

This is a fun premise and should have been a fun book. But it was tedious and disjointed. There was no tension or suspense. The characters were flat, and at times just plain ridiculous. The introduction in my edition gave some important clues to the mystery of this book. Her friend Ann Durell writes about Raskin’s last book, The Westing Game: “As always, I didn’t know what it would be about, because Ellen didn’t know herself. She said that if she knew what was going to happen in a book, she would be too bored to write it.” This lack of direction is all too evident in this book.

I had high hopes for this Newbery award winning mystery novel. After all, it was first published in 1978 and has remained popular all these years. I think its popularity over the years is entirely a result of the Newbery award. In my humble opinion it’s terrible. I grant it 1 star because the premise is interesting and there are a few (VERY few) snippets that were intriguing. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 2, 2016 |
Came as a recommendation for mystery aficionado and was disappointed after reading it. Too many characters and the story wasn't engaging. however the final few chapters compensated for the lackluster story.
Give it a miss and nothing will be missed. I guess it would be good read for children's though.

(PS: 2.5 stars actually) ( )
  _RSK | Jan 26, 2016 |
Sixteen people - some of them in families - are invited to live in a new apartment block. Just as they're settling in, they receive invitations to hear the will of Samuel Westing, an eccentric businessman who accumulated quite a fortune, and with whom they all have some connection.

The will puts these people in eight pairs, with 'clues' for each, consisting of four or five apparently random words... the book then follows each pair over the next few days as they discuss their clues and attempt - in various ingenious ways - to determine exactly what they are supposed to do with them.

So the book is - sort of - a murder mystery, in a light-hearted kind of way. But this is no Agatha Christie. There are few subtle clues dropped, and no red herrings to speak of. It’s fairly obvious that none of the pairs of participants have any idea what their words mean, and that their attempts to solve the puzzle are completely off track. I was quite pleased that I did manage to solve one part of the mystery myself, about half-way through the book, when something about the clues fell into place in my mind. I was hoping that there would be more instances of ‘aha’ moments where I could figure out something else, but that was the only one. The rest followed fairly rapidly, and there was not much that could have been worked out by readers.

The characterisation in this book isn’t great; I was surprised to find that I did manage to keep each of the sixteen main characters fairly clearly in my mind, but that’s because the author chose distinct names, characteristics and professions quite cleverly. As the narrative flitted rapidly from viewpoint to viewpoint, I had no difficulty remembering who was who, but did not find that I actually empathised with any of them. Perhaps the book was too short for real character development, or perhaps it wasn’t meant to be there. Agatha Christie’s books similarly tend to lack three-dimensional people, and her names and characterisitics can make it hard even to remember who is who, sometimes - but Agatha Christie was a genius at plotting.

Still, the story flows well, and there are some mildly amusing moments, particularly during the original reading of the will. Certainly worth reading once - and three-and-a-half stars would really be fairer. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellen Raskinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Durell, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Jenny who asked for a puzzle-mystery and Susan K.
First words
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Clues, they had to work on those clues. Behind closed doors. Whisper, someone may be listening.
Remember: It is not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Sixteen people were invited to the reading of the very strange will of the very rich Samuel W. Westing. They could become millionaires, depending on how they played the game.

The not-quite-perfect heirs were paired, and each pair was given $ 10,000 and a set of clues (no two sets of clues were alike). All they had to do was find the answer, but the answer to what?

The Westing game was tricky and dangerous, but the heirs played on, through blizzards and burglaries and bombs bursting in air. And one of them won!

With her own special blend of intricacy, humor, and upside-down perceptions, Ellen Raskin has entangled a remarkable cast of characters in a puzzle-knotted, word-twisting plot. She then deftly unravels it again in a surprising (but fair) and highly satisfying ending.

Haiku summary
Would you play a game

against a dead man for a

large inheritance?


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014240120X, Paperback)

When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will...and what a will it is!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:50 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.

(summary from another edition)

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