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The Westing Game: 05/31/22
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a weird middle grade mystery book that was released when I was five. It was the inspiration for The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. His book is the reason I chose to read Raskin's.
Raskin was primarily a graphic designer with a long career of designing dust jackets before she wrote The Westing Game. The ebook edition I read includes numerous designs she did for the book's dust jacket and interior illustrations.
The book begins with an empty apartment building and a number of personalized invitations. Specific people for reasons yet to be revealed are convinced to move in. The careful introduction of the cast of characters and the attention to detail in how the apartment is set up reminds me of another recent novel, Greenglass House by Kate Milford (2015).
Across the street there's an old mansion. Think the Bate's house by the Bate's motel. Except here, the murder is of the mansion's long time owner and the owner of the apartment building. The residents of the apartment building will inherit a treasure if they win the Westing Game.
How the game is set up from the making of the teams, the clues, and the stakes involved was clearly an influence to another book, or more specifically, series of books. The reading of the will and the rules of the game is very similar to The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (2008), the first of the 39 Clues books.
The dynamic between all the different residents and their ties to the dead man is the same building blocks as many an adult cozy mystery I've read. But the back stories of these characters has the wacky logic that's the mainstay of many a middle grade book.