What a fun little mystery! I really thought that I had read this before, when I was still in elementary school, but I remembered nothing about it. Somehow, Raskin managed to endow this children’s novel with more mystery than the vast majority of adult novels in the genre. For one thing, this didn’t read as a children’s book. Raskin seems to have been a firm believer in not talking down to children, which always makes for a much better children’s author.
There were aspects of the mystery that I had no problem guessing, but there were more than a few that were a complete surprise to me. I loved how multifaceted the mystery of Sam Westing was, and how people struggled with how much to trust their neighbors in their shared search for the truth. For a book that is less than 200 pages long, it packed quite a punch. There was never a dull moment, and even though it was first published in 1978, it very rarely felt dated. There were a few moments of racism and sexism that were signs of the times, but other than that and some outdated technology, this book held up incredibly well forty years later.
This was an interesting, eclectic cast of characters. There was no true main character, although I suppose Turtle comes close. Instead, we had less than twenty characters, but all of whom were focal characters with great import to the plot. Every tenant of a small apartment building is somehow involved in the Westing Game, and every single one of them is determined to prove themselves worthy of the massive inheritance that serves as the Game’s prize.
I don’t know how I missed this book as a kid, because I would have loved it. Thankfully, I found it pretty great even as an adult. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a precocious, intelligent kid, or any adult who embraces their inner child and enjoys a good mystery.