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The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics) by…

The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics) (original 1978; edition 2004)

by Ellen Raskin (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,023306550 (4.09)2 / 302
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.
Title:The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics)
Authors:Ellen Raskin (Author)
Info:Puffin Books (2004), 192 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

  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)
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    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (chinquapin)
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    The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No. 1) by Rick Riordan (cmbohn)
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    Father's Arcane Daughter by E. L. Konigsburg (ansate)
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    Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (infiniteletters)
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    Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (trollsdotter)
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    The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (g33kgrrl)
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    The Clock Without a Face by Eli Horowitz (sduff222)
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    SFRFS335: Both books are amazingly written.

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» See also 302 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 306 (next | show all)
The Westing Game is a Newberry Award winning, modern classic, middle-grade/YA story that was one of my favorites from childhood. A large and varied group of people are invited to move into Sunset Towers, a new apartment building on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not long after they take up residence there, smoke is seen coming from the chimney of the nearby Westing mansion, which was believed to be uninhabited for some time. The Sunset Towers doorman tells young Turtle Wexler a ghost story that prompts her and her friend, Doug, to sneak into the mansion, where Turtle finds the body of eccentric millionaire Sam Westing. Most of the residents of Sunset Towers are then invited to the mansion for the reading of the will in which all of them are named heirs. But there’s a catch. The will states that Sam Westing didn’t die of natural causes and that one among them is a murderer. In order to claim their inheritance, they must discover the name of the killer by piecing together clues left by the victim and the one who figures out the puzzle first will receive two hundred million dollars. The heirs are paired together and each team is given ten thousand dollars and a handful of words, which they must make sense of. As they work to figure it all out, they’re beset by a blizzard, a thief, and a bomber, all of which only muddy the waters. Who will be the first to find the answer and will it be what they expect?

The Westing Game boasts a diverse, ensemble cast of sixteen heirs, who are the main players in the Westing Game. There’s thirteen-year-old tomboy genius Turtle who plays the stock market, along with her older sister, Angela, who is considered the perfect angel of a daughter. Their parents, Grace, a wannabe socialite and decorator, and Jake, a podiatrist, are also players. Then there’s Angela’s fiance, Denton, who is a plastic surgery intern. The Hoo family, who own the Chinese restaurant on the top floor of Sunset Towers, are all heirs as well. James Hoo is an entrepreneur and inventor who had one of his inventions stolen by Sam Westing, his wife, Madame Hoo, who speaks little English and wants to go back to China, is the restaurant’s cook, and their son, Doug, is a high-school track star. Flora Baumbach is an older dressmaker who is working on a wedding dress for Angela. The teenage Theodorakis brothers are heirs, but their parents who own the coffee shop on the first floor of Sunset Towers and who are in not-so-friendly competition with Hoo’s restaurant are not. Theo Theodorakis is an aspiring writer, while his younger brother, Christos, is a disabled birdwatcher. J. J. Ford is a smart and well-respected appellate court judge. Sandy McSouthers is the building’s doorman, who has a colorful past and a large family to support. Bertha Crow is the building’s cleaning lady, while Otis Amber is an elderly delivery boy who brings messages to the residents about the Westing Game. And last but not least is Sydelle Pulaski, a middle-aged secretary who is always overlooked, so she gains attention by unnecessarily walking with a crutch that she creatively paints and uses like a fashion accessory. I have to give the author props for creating such a large and interesting cast of characters, and giving them each their own personalities and quirks, while wrangling them all successfully into a cohesive whole.

I read this book for the first time when I was in middle-school and it’s typically classified as either a middle grade or YA book, but I found very little concerning content to report. Turtle finds the purportedly murdered body of Sam Westing, but it’s rendered in a more spooky way with nothing graphic. There’s some incidental violence in the form of “bombs” that are really just fireworks. Two people are injured and spend a few days in the hospital, but their injuries aren’t life-threatening and they continue playing the game from their hospital beds. Turtle kicks people's shins when they tug her braids, but this is more humorous than anything. There’s the mention of an off-canvas character from the past committing suicide. And then there are two deaths recorded on canvas but neither was particularly graphic. Throughout the book, various items go missing and are suspected to have been stolen, but eventually they’re all given back. That’s all I can think of, so overall, I’d say that the book is PG-rated and quite appropriate for its audience.

As I mentioned, I first read The Westing Game as a kid and I remember absolutely loving it. At the time, it became one of my all-time favorite books, but I hadn’t read it again since then, until now. I honestly remembered very little of the story, only that an eccentric millionaire drew his heirs into playing a game for their inheritance. The book is a little slower in the beginning, because each pair of heirs have only a small portion of the clues. But the pieces gradually start coming together as the pairs investigate and start figuring things out. When they’re all brought back together later on, then things really get moving as we discover just how clever and complex this game and the mystery surrounding it really is. I very much enjoyed the cast of characters and give the author kudos for writing such a diverse group back in the 1970s (when the book was first published). I like how the characters come together and how the two characters in each pair end up being good for one another. They could have been incredibly cutthroat given how much money was on the line, but for the most part, they’re kind to each other and end up cooperating in many ways, which is a good lesson for kids and teens. Overall, I enjoyed this walk down memory lane and look forward to passing this book along to my grandchildren one day. ( )
  mom2lnb | Nov 14, 2021 |
I definitely have some nostalgia goggles on a bit with this one but I just love this story so much. I've talked to a bunch of people about this book while re-reading it and almost every person I've talked to read it in elementary school and has really fond memories of it.

I first read this book in 4th or 5th grade and just loved. I remember flying through the book because I found it so engaging and I just had to know how it ended. Yes, this book at times may be a little over the top but I think that's one of the things that kept me reading as a child. Even now, I can appreciate the over-the-top nature of this book. Even though it might seem crazy at times, everything written just seemed so intentional to me. You could tell that Ellen Raskin put so much effort into planning out what this story was going to be and exactly how she wanted to write it. There are definitely flaws in this book, don't get me wrong, but this was just such an important book to me as a child and I still love it so much, so forgive me if I'm willing to overlook those issues.

I love going back and re-reading books I read when I was younger. Sometimes, like with this book, they're still really good, and sometimes I can't imagine why I liked it. Either way I love knowing that those books I read as a child helped me become a reader and continue reading to this day. Reading this makes me want to go back and re-read more of the books I know I read in elementary school just to so what kind of books I loved when I was a kid. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
The end made the entire book worth reading. ( )
  astronomist | Oct 3, 2021 |
The mystery was interesting, until it was revealed, and then... I'm not sure what happened. As I looked back at the book, it's skills and flaws, and the reading experience I wasn't really filled with good feelings. What can I say? I'm an oddball, I guess.

I suppose it has to do with the lack of emotional engagement that we have with the characters. It really reminded me, in a way, of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As hard as the mystery is, I prefer the others. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Author Ellen Raskin sounded more interesting in the introduction by Ann Durell than almost all of her characters. Turtle Wexler was a hoot, but the rest were pretty flat, there were too many of them and their relationships to each other and magnate Sam Westing (making them heirs) took way too long to discern. Many reviewers have compared this to Agatha Christie, but I don't see it, except possibly for the book's basic premise. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 306 (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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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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Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

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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