The Westing Game: Recommended Readalikes

From Nancy Drew to the Mystery Gang, most children dream of solving mysteries with their friends. While there might not be an obnoxious old man with a large inheritance or a masked ghoul waiting for us to find, there are plenty of books to discover. Young readers looking for trap doors, complicated puzzles, and layer after layer of suspense might enjoy the following books:

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
    If you wished that The Westing Game featured more young, brilliant characters like Tabitha-Ruth “Turtle” Wexler and Christos “Chris” Theodorakis, look no further. Infiltrating the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened is only for the most intelligent and resourceful children to accomplish. To earn the chance, five children must undergo a series of mysterious and mind bending exercises to prove that they’re worthy of the mission. Will their newly founded friendship survive such an incredible strain? Readers will love that this is part of a series.
  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
    What if the doors to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory had locked behind Charlie when he entered the building? What if he, and the other golden ticket recipients, had to solve a series of puzzles in order to find a hidden escape route? That’s exactly what Kyle and eleven other children are up against after winning a coveted spot to spend the night in Mr. Lemoncello’s new library. Learn how the Dewey decimal system works, what archives are, and how to ask a librarian for help while trying to win.
  • If You Find This by Matthew Baker
    Child geniuses. Hidden treasures. Senile old men. High stakes. When Nicholas’s father loses his job, it’s up to him to go in search of his grandfather’s hidden treasure. With the help of his classmates and some of their grandparents, Nicholas must push through red herrings, haunted houses, and shipwrecks to save his childhood home from being sold. This adventure is a quick, but worthwhile, read.

Unfortunately, the following two recommendations aren’t available through our library system’s catalog. Luckily, if you’re a local library user, you can use Marina (other counties) or OCLC (other states). If you aren’t local, still give them a look. Thousands of libraries throughout the country use similar versions of our interlibrary loaning system. You can learn more about how it works in this fun Wikipedia article. Ask your local librarians about how to submit requests.

  • The Dark Stairs by Betsy Byars
    Herculeah Jones is immersed in a home life of mystery and investigation with her private eye mother and police officer father. She can’t help but investigate what is going on with that spooky Dark Oaks mansion and the strange man hanging around it. This marks the start of an elementary/middle grade series featuring Herculeah and her equally improbably named friend Meat.
  • The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
    Robert hates math. Enter the Number Devil. The Number Devil visits him in a fantastical series of dreams and leads him on a mathematical journey to end all mathematical journeys. Together they explore concepts such as Fibonacci numbers, Pascal’s triangle, permutations, and factorials. Eventually both Robert and the reader will end up marveling at the wonderful, complex, strange magic of numbers.

Teens and adults who are okay with a bit (or a lot) of murder might try some of these mystery titles:

  • An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
    Don’t let the title or cover fool you; this is no cozy mystery. This book is full of graphic, grisly murder. After her beloved father dies, eighteen-year-old Maud is left on her own in the family’s large apartment in downtown Gothenburg. She resigns herself to a solitary life of traveling the world and browsing the internet from her father’s old armchair. It’s through this series of misfortunates that she learns that sometimes good things come from tragedies. Now pushing 89-years-old, Maud has no family, no friends, and eventually no issue with just a bit of murder. Okay, maybe a lot of murder.
  • Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel
    Hold onto your rare vinyls and EPs, folks, because Written in Dead Wax is the first book in a six part series about the Vinyl Detective. Referred to simply as the Vinyl Detective, as his business card describes him, he’s a record collector and sleuth extraordinaire. When a beautiful woman turns up and offers him an extraordinary fee to locate and retrieve a priceless recording on behalf of a mysterious client, his interest is piqued. It probably doesn’t help that he’s down on his financial luck. He figures it’ll be an interesting, easy job. What he doesn’t expect is gunmen, dead bodies, and a riddle that will have him scrambling to solve it before the music stops.
  • Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by Kate Racculia
    The death of an eccentric billionaire. A free-for-all, up-for-grabs life-changing inheritance. A ragtag team of semi-strangers working through a puzzling treasure hunt. We think this is starting to sound familiar, don’t you? Main character Tuesday Mooney is a bit of a loner. She doesn’t really enjoy socializing and, frankly, would rather spend her time watching her old X-Files DVDs by herself. But even she can’t resist the treasure hunt of a lifetime, the chance to win the immense wealth Vincent Pryce left behind. With the help of a friend, an adoring teenage neighbor, and a young heir, Tuesday is determined to secure the inheritance.

This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode, The Westing Game, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Or you can simply click on the link to the episode to listen.

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