Did you ever see the movie ‘Clue’ with Tim Curry based off the old board game? If you haven’t, spoiler alert: it’s great- I mean what board game gone movie isn’t? And the film is strikingly similar to the book The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin despite its publication date in 1978. It’s a mystery book drenched in intriguing clues, sneaking suspicions, and mind blowing discoveries that manage to sneak in right under your nose.
Samuel W. Westing is a self-made millionaire who has mysteriously selected 16 of his cooky heirs to live in the Sunset Towers apartments on the shores of Lake Michigan. The heirs are brought together in Westing’s mansion to hear the will of Sam Westing who was recently found dead in his home – not to mention the fact that the heirs have no relation to each other, nor Westing for that matter. The evening becomes more enigmatic when Westing’s will takes the form of a puzzle. He divides the 16 into 8 different pairs, each with unique clues, and a challenge to find the person who took Sam Westing’s life. Each pair is given $10,000 dollars as incentive to play the puzzle called the ‘Westing Game.’ The winner who solves the mystery can rightfully claim to be the true heir of Samuel Westing and inherit his 200 million dollar fortune as well as his prestigious role in society.
The Westing Game was a Newberry award winner, and a fun read for young adults and adults alike, but I found myself struggling to understand the workings of the plot as I was reading though the book. Sixteen heirs and a few side characters in 185 page book make for a constantly moving plot with very little downtime. It was almost like back in grade school when you would try to fit 9 crayons in an 8 crayon box… it works, but it looks goofy. Each page is dense with events that lead to the ultimate conclusion of the book so PAY ATTENTION. You will often find yourself rifling through pages, backwards and forwards, thinking that you have pieced together some clues, or perhaps even come to the conclusion of who killed Westing.
What I loved most about the book, as said above, is the similar feel to the movie ‘Clue.’ It is certainly primarily a mystery, but the humor it uses to create awkward “who-done-it?” moments, enjoyable character development, and outrageous irony, made Raskin’s Westing Game a pleasurable read that satisfied the little kid in me who loved watching Scooby Doo and reading the Hardy Boys.
I’ll put this guy on shelf number 2 1/2 of 5. (It’s a really cool looking bookshelf)