Favorite Book: The Westing Game


The is a re-post from 2006, updated in 2007


The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin (originally posted March 1, 2006):

          If you have not read The Westing Game, then you are probably did not attend elementary school in the 1970’s or ‘80’s. This is book was a favorite of elementary school teachers when I was growing up, particularly since it is a Newbury prize winner. However, unlike such famous teacher-favorite downers like Where the Red Fern Grows, this book is absolutely awesome. It is a spinny, twisty, mystery that involves a mysterious will and who, among a collection of twenty-four strangers, will be the rightful inheritor. The ending is so breathtakingly clever, that I have, I think, been seeking a book as good ever since the day I finished the last page. I love, love mysteries – that is a blog post in itself – and this one is just absolutely perfect. And not only is the book clever but the varied characters are pretty realistically sketched, particularly for a children’s book. I am particularly fond of sad, tortured Angela, and tough Judge “Josie-Jo.” But most of all, I love, love Turtle. I want to be half as tough and clever and good with a kick as she is. Seriously, don’t be put off by the fact that it is a kids’ book – if you love puzzles or mysteries, you should read The Westing Game. And if you know another book half as clever as this one, please let me know.*

*Before you start, let me tell you that I have read Raskin’s The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon, I Mean Noel. It is good too, and clever, but it is too goofy to be as good as The Westing Game. The Tattooed Potato is too gritty and dated, and Figgs and Phantoms is just too damn trippy and weird.

Currently Reading: Bleak House, Charles Dickens and An Unofficial Rose, Iris Murdoch and a numerous other books that I am so barely involved with at the moment that I can’t, in good faith, tell you that I am actually reading. But I will get back to them eventually, I am sure

2007 Update: Important updating note! Rumor has it (i.e. I read on some book blog somewhere) that two unpublished books by Raskin are going to be published including a SEQUEL to The Westing Game.  If this is true, it is the greatest thing I have ever heard.  Watch this space for more information. 

2012(!) Update:  Alas, I think that was hooey, as nothing ever came of it.  Probably for the best, as no one could really take her notes and make a Raskin book.  But oh, I do wish she had written more!!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017