Murder, crime, suspense, secrets; what else can you ask for in a mystery novel? The Westing Game by Milwaukee native Ellen Raskin is a great read due to its constant mysteries, incorporation of thematic subjects, and attention to detail. It is hard to understand however, so a computer may be needed to keep from getting lost.
The Westing Game is a fictional story depicting the solving of a mystery set up for 16 heirs as they compete to inherit the wealth of an affluent businessman whom they all share some hidden connection with. Supposedly the cause of death for the benefactor was not natural and it is up to the heirs to solve it. The heirs piece together clues set up by the benefactor, Sam Westing, in order to solve the mystery. Along the way they create familial bonds, have a run in with a mysterious fire bomber, and discover lies, hidden feelings, and a connection to the forced marriage and suicide of Violet Westing, the daughter of Sam. Two protagonists ultimately realize that Sam is still alive and quite near to them, but only one, Turtle Wexler, discovers the whole truth and the final hidden identity of the benefactor.
You can’t get away from mysteries in this novel. Every time one is solved, it springs up another. For example, when the mystery of Sam’s identities is solved, it brings up another: why have three identities (Turtle Wexler discovers the answer behind this secret)? When Turtle discovers the true identity of the firebomber, why does she cover for her? When all of the clues are pieced together, why did they point to what seems to be an innocent soup kitchen worker? The novel truly incorporates mystery into every aspect of its story and they aren’t truly solved until the final page. If anybody can figure them out before finishing the book, then they must be a genius.
While paying attention to the mysteries, Ellen Raskin still managed to incorporate a variety of thematic subjects. For example, she speaks to the strength of familial bonds when...
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