The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Sam Westing is dead. His sixteen heirs are summoned to hear the reading of the will. But something about the whole situation is…strange.

For one thing, many of the heirs had never met Sam Westing. For another, the ones who had met him didn’t like him. And then, of course, there’s the matter of the actual inheritance.

Westing died a millionaire, and is leaving it all to one of the sixteen. They’re split up into pre-assigned pairs, given envelopes with cryptic clues, and told to solve the puzzle. Only thing is, they haven’t been told what the rules are or what the clues are for; never mind the answer, they haven’t even been given the question! Within the walls of Sunset Towers (where all the heirs coincidentally [or is it?!] reside) live a cook, a judge, a doctor, a housewife, a bomber, a bookie, a thief–and, according to Westing’s will, a murderer.

This is another old favorite from my childhood. A teacher told me a little about it, and soon enough I was engrossed. I must have read it a dozen times as a kid, and even now I read it once a year. It’s so well done, so clever, that every time I read it I pick up some subtle clue or funny bit that I missed every time before. It never feels old, never feels stale, even now when I could probably quote the entire thing by heart.

Join the heirs as they try to solve the mystery (and figure out what, exactly, the mystery’s supposed to be). Everyone’s a suspect. Everyone’s hiding something–and some of them are even aware of the secrets they’re keeping. Pay attention, stay on your toes, and maybe you could be the winner of the Westing Game.

Favorite Line:

Friday was back to normal, if the actions of suspicious would-be heirs competing for a two-hundred-million-dollar prize could be considered normal.

Don’t read if: you object to doormen, braids, the stock market, spare ribs, painted crutches, or the Fourth of July.