I read voraciously
when I was a kid. I miss younger me and how easy it was for me to get engrossed in a book and the admirable pace I could devour them. The Westing Game
was one of my very favorite books read, of the very many books I was capable of reading back then, and so when I happened across a copy, I wanted to see if the magic was still there. Short answer, no, it appears I've aged and my reading tastes have changed a good deal since I was in middle school (shocking, I know!), but it was still fun to revisit one of my old favorites.
As The Westing Game
begins, a large group of tenants is moving into their new home, upscale apartment building Sunset Towers. Little do these tenants know, as they come to inhabit their new abode, that their being brought together is anything but coincidental. On a hill near Sunset Towers lives the mysterious Samuel Westing, paper magnate and the town's namesake. Well, at least he did
live there until his life was ended by some nefarious means. From beyond the grave, however, Mr. Westing wants to play a game of inheritances, one that will reveal his murderer is too close for comfort. The Sunset Towers tenants are his heirs, but one is also a murderer, and only one will win Mr. Westing's game and a staggering inheritance.
What ensues is a fast-paced mystery with a 16 murder suspects who each have their own secrets. Younger me would have loved the many moving parts and the elaborate puzzle Raskin creates. Even having at one point read the outcome, I couldn't guess at the truth. Older me was a little baffled by the shear abundance of characters. In such a short book, it feels impossible to get a picture of any of them that is more than the briefest of caricatures. Older me prefers character development over a briskly moving plot, apparently.
Nonetheless, The Westing Game is a classic of children's literature, and it's aged surprisingly well. To read it, you'd hardly guess it was first published over 40 years ago. The shin-kicking perennially neglected but good-hearted Turtle Wexler makes a great heroine for kids to root for. As for the adult characters, it's funny to read this book as an adult and realize how recognizable some of these caricatures are from life - the self-important judge, the single-minded track star, the know-it-all intern, the bashful bride who wanted something more from her life, and the insecure person whose continuing efforts to get noticed by her peers make her that much more forgettable - they're all here.
The Westing Game is a clever, fun book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a new generation.