THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin
Sixteen seemingly unconnected people are invited to live in Sunset Towers, a strange apartment building with the West wall made solely of window glass, looking out toward the beautiful sunsets and millionaire Samuel Westing’s old mansion. But when several of the children sneak into the Westing house on a dare and discover the millionaire’s dead body, the sixteen strangers learn that they are not unconnected after all. They are all named as heirs in Samuel Westing’s will. The will itself, however, is unconventional to say the least. It claims that Samuel Westing was murdered by someone in Sunset Towers and challenges the heirs to find the murderer in order to inherit the $200 million fortune that Westing left behind. The heirs divide into eight teams, and each team receives a different clue. Now the race is on to discover who killed Samuel Westing and nab the $200 million before the mysterious killer strikes again.
Anyone who enjoys the Thirty-Nine Clues series should check out this 1979 Newbery Award winner. Although similar in plot, however, the style could not be more different. Sixteen eccentric characters compete in a bizarre and confusing game that will keep the reader as invested as the characters in puzzling it out. Ultimately, however, the point of the story is not the murder mystery but the development of the characters individually and as a community.
If you liked The Westing Game, try The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. If you enjoyed the somewhat eccentric characters, you may also enjoy A Wrinkle in Time and Saffy’s Angel.