The inhabitants of Sunset Towers are in for a surprise. Samuel Westing, the eccentric millionaire, is dead and they have been named the official benefactors of the Westing estate. But wait there’s a catch. In his will, which is as eccentric as the man himself, he states that his life was taken by one of his heirs. The heirs have been divided into eight pairs and asked to find the guilty. The team which succeeds wins the inheritance. The heirs soon find out that the Westing game is much more than an old man’s idiosyncrasies. It’s a game designed to test them in every possible way.
This book was also hilarious. This is not something you would associate with murder mysteries. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the comedy. Seeing a bunch of plain and simple people trying to defeat the most cunning man on Earth at his own game was extremely funny. There were no complex deductions made, no fancy detectives, no ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’s. In fact, the heirs’ attempts at finding the murderer were so feeble, I doubted that anyone would be able to win the inheritance. However, I was proven wrong in the end. There were some who were quite intelligent even though they were not on Westing’s level.
This is one of those books where you feel the presence of a mastermind controlling everything from behind the scenes. Sam Westing might be dead, but he is able to perform feats from the grave which are beyond the ability of any living man. It seems, from the beginning of the book, that almost every action taken by the heirs has been predicted or is being controlled by Sam Westing. You cannot help but appreciate the old man’s tricks and subtleties. Even though he was not present physically, his presence could definitely be felt by the heirs as well.
My favorite part was the last few chapters. The heirs were trapped in a room in the Westing manor and had five minutes to produce an answer. Those five minutes were more eventful than the rest of the book. A lot of things happened which made them think and reflect. They were desperate and needed an answer to explain the bizarre events that had just occurred. And in those crucial moments, a solution was found. And what a solution it was!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have been able to think of it.
Reading this book was like watching two grandmasters play chess. When you see a queen sacrifice, you know that the move must have a deep meaning and you try to figure out the reason. When I finished this book, I still didn’t know the answers to a lot of questions. I read the book again and tried to decipher all of Westing’s moves. And this was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the book. This book will make you think, make you laugh and it won’t let you get up until you’ve finished it. I would recommend this to anyone who is bored and would like to exercise their grey cells. It doesn’t matter whether you’re eight or eighty-eight. If you’re strong of heart, try and have a go at the Westing Game.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Puffin Modern Classic, 2004. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? Let us know in the comments below!