The Westing Game (Puffin Modern Classics)

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Olivia Rutigliano Discovers an Unconventional Ghost Story

At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano looks back at author Ellen Raskin’s career and life, and realizes there is a ghost story at the heart of her classic murder mystery, The Westing Game. “Knowing now that Raskin wrote this novel in the possible presence of ghosts casts the book I’ve loved for many years in a different light. It is a murder mystery, a tribute to American labor history, a farcical indictment of capitalism, a book of riddles, a large-scale family drama, a bildungsroman, etc. And it is also, in its way, a ghost story. But not a kind of ghost story you’ve ever read before,” she writes. “Its ghost is not traditional, but he wants to be remembered. Samuel Westing may be dead, but there are many ways to keep him alive. Death, itself, is not the horror show promised by the novel’s meta-ghost story. It’s not even permanent; there is almost always a way to reanimate the dead. It’s just never the way you’d expect.”

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