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The Westing Game (1978)

by Ellen Raskin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,588321544 (4.08)2 / 313
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.
  1. 120
    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (infiniteletters, Anonymous user)
  2. 50
    The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (bezoar44)
    bezoar44: The Mysterious Benedict Society features a team of kids working to solve puzzles and unravel a dangerous mystery at a claustrophobic boarding school; the Westing Game pits several teams of kids and adults, residents of an apartment building, against one another in a race to decode a will and solve several related mysteries.… (more)
  3. 31
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (chinquapin)
  4. 10
    The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (cmbohn)
  5. 10
    Father's Arcane Daughter by E. L. Konigsburg (ansate)
  6. 10
    Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (infiniteletters)
  7. 10
    Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (trollsdotter)
  8. 00
    The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (g33kgrrl)
  9. 00
    The Clock Without a Face by Eli Horowitz (sduff222)
  10. 00
    The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman (foggidawn)
  11. 00
    The Spider-Orchid by Celia Fremlin (sietsmareadinglist)
  12. 02
    The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (SFRFS335)
    SFRFS335: Both books are amazingly written.

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» See also 313 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
A seemingly random group of 16 people are gathered for the reading of the will of Sam Westing. Instead, they are all given a challenge to find Westing's murderer. They are grouped into teams of two, and each team is given an envelope full of clues.

A cute book, lots of twists and turns (too many maybe). I like the premise, but I'm really not the target audience for this book - really a children's book. ( )
  sriddell | Aug 6, 2022 |
This was just as silly and just as enjoyable as I remembered.
I was not QUITE as bothered as I was when I was 14 by the unrealistic suggestion that a high school track athlete would skip school the day before a big meet to sprint around town, rather than rest his legs. ( )
  ZannaZori | Aug 3, 2022 |
I'm not big into mysteries, but this one's a Newbery winner and came recommended by a friend. I found it fun despite the genre and would recommend it for middle-grade children.

There is a puzzle within the mystery, which they can solve as they read. There are also some great characters that are used to address how readily we dismiss the intellect and value of those with disabilities as well as how we stereotype Afro-Americans and immigrants.

Be advised that it was published in the late 70s and there are a couple of instances where terminology is used which one wouldn't expect to hear today. As an example, the word "retarded" is used to refer both to mental disability and Down's Syndrome (which is called Mongoloidism in the book). As shocking and insulting as that seems now, at the time it was considered the proper terminology, and the author's intent was obviously to confront stereotypes and biases.

The three star rating is more a reflection of my personal tastes than the quality of the book. For those who enjoy this genre more, I expect 4 stars would be closer to the mark. I rate for myself though. :) ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jul 16, 2022 |
I re-read The Westing Game to confirm my fourth-grade memory that it is in fact the greatest murder mystery ever written. It didn't quite live up to my expectations of suspense this time, but it is a pretty good puzzle. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
I just can't get behind this madness.
For the life of me I cannot understand why this book is subject to so much hype and oceans of praise.

For some reason I was reminded a little of Agatha Christie's [b:And Then There Were None|16299|And Then There Were None|Agatha Christie|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1391120695s/16299.jpg|3038872] (I've read the copy still called "Ten Little Niggers").
It was not a flattering comparison for WG.
And since these two books aren't too different in the number of pages or complexity, I would definitely recommend ATTWN over WG. But then again, I read Christie's book when I was ten so...

This books is all over the place. It makes no sense. And while I found human interactions amusing, there was no reason to their madness. Overall, the book did not live up to expectations.
I cannot in good conscience put this book in the hands of any person - child or adult.

  QuirkyCat_13 | Jun 20, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
The book seems to suggest that the real American inheritance is transformation, and that American transformation is a mercurial thing.
Ultimately, although the story is an exciting who-done-it, the emphasis on the ‘who’ is what keeps readers coming back. The characters make the story interesting, and they make the reader think, and that is exactly what a powerful book should do.
If Raskin's crazy ingenuity has threatened to run away with her on previous occasions, here the complicated game is always perfectly meshed with character and story. Confoundingly clever, and very funny.

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellen Raskinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Durell, AnnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Summerer, Eric MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
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.
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.
Purple waves.
“Take stock in America, my heirs, and sing in praise of this generous land. You, too, may strike it rich who dares to play the Westing game.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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.

Available online at The Internet Archive:
Haiku summary
Would you play a game

against a dead man for a

large inheritance?

Was Sam Westing killed

By one of his sixteen heirs

Looking for windfall?


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Average: (4.08)
0.5 3
1 21
1.5 2
2 85
2.5 29
3 339
3.5 104
4 617
4.5 99
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