[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_westing_game_303.jpg]]

->''It's not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts.''

A murder-mystery epic Newbery Award winning novel by Ellen Raskin about [[GameBetweenHeirs sixteen heirs who compete to win a $200 million inheritance]] from the late Samuel W. Westing. Westing, for his own reasons, has set up a game of his own, set in a very large, cushy building where the heirs and their families are basically trapped into staying; the only clues he gives the players are seemingly nonsensical words printed on paper towel squares. Figure out the clues and the answer ''should'' be obvious... but [[PlotTwist maybe not]].

The book inspired a 1997 TV movie starring Ray Walston and Ashley Peldon.
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!!This book contains examples of:

* ArrangedMarriage: The subtext behind Angela Wexler and Dr. Denton Deere's engagement is that Grace hand-picked a brilliant doctor for her perfect daughter, who went along with it because she's The Good Daughter. [[spoiler:It's outright stated that Westing's wife Crow did the same thing with her daughter and a politician, which led to the daughter's suicide.]]
* AttendingYourOwnFuneral: [[spoiler:Westing attends the will reading and sessions of the Game in the guise of one of the heirs.]]
* BatmanGambit: The "trial" to prove [[spoiler:Crow]]'s innocence in both Westing and [[spoiler:Sandy]]'s deaths is actually an attempt by Turtle to gather all the information she needs to win the game. Ford eventually realizes this, but as she isn't privy to all the clues or Turtle's thoughts she isn't able to figure out what Turtle does.
* BerserkButton: Don't pull Turtle's braid. Seriously, don't.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: [[spoiler:Angela is the bomber. Madame Hoo is the thief.]]
* TheBigRace: Doug's track meet, which occupies more of his attention than the Game does.
* ABloodyMess: When the first bomb goes off, Mrs Theodorakis appears to be covered in blood, but it's just tomato sauce.
* BrickJoke:
** Flora Baumbach's car's hood also comes open in traffic, a few pages after another heir follows a (false) lead to check under the hoods of the vehicles in Sunset Towers' parking lot. Guess they didn't secure Flora's properly afterwards.
** Otis shouting "Boom!" to scare people teaches Madame Hoo this word, which eventually becomes Team One's totally-random answer.
** Jake Wexler, the podiatrist, is also [[spoiler:a bookie]], though this is only mentioned in passing once or twice. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:Ford pulls strings to have him appointed to a government panel determining whether to set up a state lottery.]] The epilogues reveal that he later becomes State Gambling Commissioner, and finally the [[spoiler:state ''crime'' commissioner]].
** Sydelle injures her leg (again) just in time to attend the heirs' reunion on crutches.
* CallToAdventure: The whole plot gets kicked off, after everyone has moved into Sunset Towers, by Otis Amber, [[spoiler:prompted by Sandy/Westing]], telling Turtle, Theo, and Doug the "ghost story" about the Westing House, thus encouraging them to go explore it and find Westing.
* CaptainObvious: Sydelle, when trying to get someone to admit to being a twin.
* CassandraTruth: "It's not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts." No one even thinks about that until the final meeting, and they still misinterpret it, and yet it was completely accurate. [[spoiler: The goal of the Westing Game was to deduce the fourth alias used by Sam Westing. Three of them were known acquaintances of all the players, although the players didn't know those people were alter egos of Sam's. Once the winner of the game figured out what the real goal was, it was very easy.]]
* CatchPhrase:
** Otis Amber exclaims "Boom!" at random times to scare people after the first two bombings.
** Also, "purple waves."
* ChekhovsGunman: Otis Amber. [[spoiler:Also Sandy/Barney Northrup.]]
* TheChessmaster: Sam Westing.
* ChessMotifs:
** Sixteen heirs, or eight pairs, which Theo notices is the same as the number of pawns in a game of chess.
** Sam Westing, as well as being TheChessmaster, is reputed to be extremely skilled at the actual game of chess.
** Judge Ford recalls that during her final chess game with Sam Westing, he tricked her into letting him checkmate by giving her the opportunity to take his queen. She later draws a parallel between the "Queen's Sacrifice" and the Westing Game, [[spoiler:since exposing Crow as a murderer would distract most of the heirs from the real objective.]]
* CloudCuckoolander: Otis Amber [[spoiler:appears to be one of these, but it's actually ObfuscatingInsanity]]. In different ways, Sydelle Pulaski and Crow also qualify, the latter even having qualities of TheOphelia.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: Invoked in-story by Sydelle, who always paints her crutches to match her clothing as a form of attention. Played for particular relevance when she dressed in the colors of the U.S. flag to sing "America the Beautiful".
* ConsummateLiar: Westing, and Turtle. [[spoiler:[[InTheBlood Unsurprisingly]].]]
* ConservationOfDetail: To an extreme degree.
* TheCoroner: Sikes, [[spoiler: who is an important accomplice to Westing's scheme]].
* DeathByNewberyMedal:
** Turtle has to face death: [[spoiler:first by finding Westing's dead body, then by witnessing the fatal collapse of her doorman friend Sandy, and finally (as a grown woman) by staying at the bedside of dying Mr. Eastman. The book is a very convoluted puzzle-mystery; all three are the same man, who'd faked his death twice]].
** The deaths of [[spoiler: James Hoo, Berthe Crow, and Otis Amber are mentioned as well, during the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue.]] They all died of old age, and not much emotional hay is made of their passing.
* DecemberDecemberRomance: [[spoiler:Otis Amber and Crow]]
* DidIJustSayThatOutLoud: Prior to the final meeting of the game, Jake and Grace Wexler fill out their forms under the influence of alcohol, causing Jake to list his position as "bookie" and Grace to include her EmbarrassingMiddleName. Or so they assume. [[spoiler:It's possible that Sandy altered their forms.]]
* DoNotPassGo: There's a message left like this by Westing when the person in charge of opening the envelopes with his messages inside is late in opening the next envelope. It essentially tells the players where to go with the addition of, "Do not collect $200."
* EatTheEvidence: Turtle consumes their clues after she and Flora have memorized them.
* EccentricMillionaire: Sam Westing.
* EmbarrassingMiddleName: Grace Wexler has a tendency to list her maiden name as "Windsor" instead of "Windkloppel." [[spoiler:Sam Westing also had "Windkloppel" as his last name before he changed it for commercial reasons.]]
* EurekaMoment: Turtle has a very quiet one during the trial. There were also earlier examples, such as Sydelle realizing [[spoiler:the clue words formed "America the Beautiful"]] and Ford realizing Westing had played them with the "Queen's Sacrifice". Numerous RedHerring examples occur also as the various pairs have "breakthroughs" with their clues that they think are the answer. (Examples: "Ed Purple-fruit!", Turtle thinking the clues are the names of stock options they should invest in, Theo thinking the clues form Amber's name and the chemical formula for an explosive...)
* ExpositionParty: The dinner party Ford throws for all the heirs reveals a lot about each of them to the reader, even as they're trying and largely failing to learn much of any use about each other.
* FakingTheDead: [[spoiler: Sam Westing. TWICE.]]
* FlatCharacter:
** Mr. and Mrs. Theodorakis, who barely appear and, outside one {{Backstory}} conversation, have hardly any lines.
** Doug Hoo doesn't have much character either, aside from resenting his dad's constant nagging to "go study".
* GameBetweenHeirs: The main premise. Samuel W. Westing chose sixteen people apparently at random as his heirs; the book opens with them summoned to hear the reading of the will. He leaves everything to the winner of the puzzle he calls The Westing Game. Who will win?
* GenerationXerox[=/=]MistakenIdentity: Angela's ArrangedMarriage echoes [[spoiler:Violet Westing's]], which at one point causes TheOphelia [[spoiler:Crow]] to think [[spoiler:she ''is'' Violet]], and to treat her like a daughter all the same. [[spoiler:Considering Grace may actually be related to Westing after all, this may not be far from the truth.]]
* TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry: Subverted; Turtle and Angela seem to be the textbook Smart One and Popular One, respectively, but they're closer to each other and probably understand each other better than anyone else, and [[spoiler:Turtle probably has more friends than Angela, while Angela is very smart herself]].
** [[spoiler:Turtle is one of the few characters (along with Pulaski, Ford and Westing) who works out that Angela was the bomber after Angela pulls an about-to-explode bomb away from Turtle and towards her own face. Turtle then claims to be the bomber to protect Angela (which is what everyone else thought anyway), going as far as to plant the fourth bomb.]]
* TheGreatestStoryNeverTold: The winner never tells anyone else that the game was won, nor what the answer was.
* HauntedHouse: The Westing mansion, supposedly.
* HiddenDepths: Applies to nearly every character.
* HiddenPurposeTest: The entire will.
* InsufferableGenius: Dr. Deere starts off as one, insisting on diagnosing all the guests despite only being an intern. He gets better.
* {{Irony}}: For the entire book, Grace claims she is the only true heir of Sam Westing. [[spoiler:With her maiden/middle name having been "Windkloppel", the same as Westing's real name, it seems she, and by extension Angela and Turtle, ''are'' the only actual blood relatives among the heirs. (In fact, Westing/Sandy/Eastman calls Grace "my niece" during the epilogue.)]]
* ItAmusedMe: The entire plot amused Sam Westing. As just one example among many, although he chose sixteen people as his "heirs" who ([[OneDegreeOfSeparation seemingly]]) had nothing to do with him or each other, he rather tongue-in-cheekly calls them his [[BlatantLies "sixteen nieces and nephews"]] in the will...[[RefugeInAudacity even though most of them were the wrong age, or race]]!
** However, [[spoiler:Westing does call Grace "my niece" in the epilogue]].
* ItMakesSenseInContext: The "trial" conducted to prove [[spoiler:Crow]]'s innocence consists of a judge dressing in native African garb (because Ford had decided to let her hair down and be NotSoStoic) and a prosecuting attorney who is both [[BrattyHalfPint an annoying little girl]] and ([[TakingTheHeat it's believed]]) a confessed bomber, in a courtroom that's just an apartment. Lampshaded by [[SelfDeprecation Ford herself]].
* ItsTheJourneyThatCounts: Although no one wins the game or inherits the fortune [[spoiler:(except Turtle)]], everyone's lives become better for having been part of it and the CharacterDevelopment they gained from it. As Chris said of the OddCouple pairings, "Everyone was paired with the perfect partner, given exactly who they needed" though they didn't know it at the start.
* TheJudge: Josie-Jo Ford, who in the book is identified as the first female and/or black person elected to a judgeship in the state.
** And possibly the first black woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, according to the epilogue.
* KarmicJackpot: [[spoiler:Westing set up the game to give this to all the players.]]
* LamePunReaction: Grace Wexler provokes one when she decides to rename James Hoo's restaurant "[[WhosOnFirst Hoo's On First]]". James understandably complains that his restaurant is on the ''top'' floor of the tower, and that people who come looking for Hoo's On First might just assume that the Theodorakis coffee shop (which actually ''is'' in the lobby) is it.
* LittleGirlsKickShins: Kicking shins is a major emotional defense mechanism for Turtle, which becomes important to the plot because several clues involve people limping.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: ''Every'' character has a role to play.
* LocationThemeNaming: [[spoiler:Windy Windkloppel and his various aliases scattering to the four winds... [=WESTing, NORTHrup, EASTman, and McSOUTHers=].]]
* LostInTranslation: "The heir who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the..."
* MadnessMantra: "purple waves" supposedly was for the ghost story told at the start of the book.
* MeaningfulName: [[spoiler: "I am Berthe Erica Crow. I am the answer and I am the winner."]]
* MissedTheCall: [[spoiler: It's revealed that Sydelle Pulaski was the "mistake". The intended heir was a person named Sybil Pulaski, but the PI screwed up and found Sydelle instead.]]
* NeverOneMurder: Westing's suspicious death kicks the plot into action, followed by [[spoiler:Sandy's death]] later. [[spoiler:Subverted, as there was really only one "victim", and he didn't actually die either time: both deaths were staged as part of the Game]].
* NonindicativeName: The windows of Sunset Towers face east, the direction in which the sun ''rises''. Lampshaded in the very first sentence.
* NotSoStoic: J.J. Ford deliberately embraces this trope so people will take her seriously.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: [[spoiler:Otis Amber, Sandy]]
* OddCouple: The players are paired up, usually with someone they seemingly have nothing in common with.
* OddFriendship: The result of several OddCouple teams.
* OneDegreeOfSeparation: While at first it seems none of the heirs have anything in common, or even a reason to be heirs, it turns out every character or their family does have a connection to the Westings. [[spoiler:Grace and her family are actually related; Theo and Chris's father dated Violet Westing; Flora Baumbach made Violet's wedding dress; Ford's family worked for Westing and he put her through school; Hoo was a competitor who blamed Westing for stealing his invention; Crow was Westing's wife; Amber had worked for Westing as a detective; and Sandy supposedly worked at the Westing factory; The lone exception is Sydelle Pulaski, and that is because she was confused for a friend of Crow's named Sybil Pulaski.]]
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: Applies to most of the heirs at the start (once they find out why they have been summoned, that is). By the end, most of them [[CharacterDevelopment have realized]] [[ItsTheJourneyThatCounts other things are more important]], to the point that very few are that upset they lost the game. It doesn't hurt that each pair receives $10,000 at the beginning and end of the game just for playing.
* OnlySaneMan: Ed Plum seems to think he's this when compared to the heirs, particularly when Ford and Turtle call their gathering a "court" to which he must submit the rest of the will before fleeing Sunset Towers. Among the heirs, Dr. Deere often acts like he's this; if anyone actually is, though, it's Judge Ford.
* PlayingSick: Sydelle Pulaski and her "wasting disease."
* PrettyInMink: Grace Wexler during the reading of the will.
* PrivateDetective: Judge Ford hires one to investigate the other heirs, in hope of figuring out what Westing was up to. [[spoiler:The detective is Otis Amber, who's secretly been working for Westing (under two names) as well as Judge Ford.]]
* RearWindowWitness: Not a crime, but Chris is a witness to [[spoiler:Sikes]] going into the Westing House just before Westing's body is discovered, thanks to his bird-watching.
* RedHerring: A number of them [[spoiler:many planted by Sandy/Westing himself]].
* RunningGag: Many, such as Dr. Deere incorrectly and/or [[DelusionsOfEloquence sententiously]] diagnosing people's illnesses, Sydelle's crutches, "Boom!", Turtle kicking shins, "Windkloppel"...and almost every one ended up being relevant and important!
* ScareDare: Turtle accepts one to stay overnight in the Westing mansion.
* ScarsAreForever: Angela keeps the scar she gets from [[spoiler:shielding Turtle from the third bomb]].
* SmallNameBigEgo: Grace Wexler, probably others too.
* SmallReferencePools: Used by the characters; except for one joke vote, everyone thinks the quote "May God thy gold refine" comes from either Shakespeare or the Bible. [[spoiler:It's actually from a lesser-known verse of "America the Beautiful", and is a clue.]]
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Sam Westing, Judge Ford, and [[spoiler:T.R. Wexler, the only person ever to beat Westing at his own game]].
* SnowedIn: The inhabitants of Sunset Towers are snowed in for several days early in the Game, leaving them with a lot of time on their hands to ponder the clues and get paranoid about each other.
* SolveTheSoupCans: The closest thing to a pure literature example.
* SpottingTheThread:
** Sandy's limp, when Turtle knew she had never kicked him [[spoiler:gave away he was actually Barney Northrup]].
** Also, when Theo has Doug spy on the chessboard for him to learn that his secret opponent is actually [[spoiler:Sandy]]. Not only is this fact in and of itself strange since [[spoiler:Sandy]] had claimed not to know how to play the game, but Theo's supposed winning move is actually Westing's classic "Queen's Sacrifice", thus letting Ford realize who [[spoiler:Sandy]] was.
* StepfordSmiler: Angela Wexler and Flora Baumbach
* StickyFingers: [[spoiler:Madame Hoo steals random objects from other heirs in hopes of raising money for a return to China. She confesses in the middle of Turtle's trial (she thought the meeting had to do with plans to capture her) and returns the things she stole.]]
* TakingTheHeat: The bomber was [[spoiler:Angela, but Turtle willingly takes the blame to protect her sister]].
* TheTapeKnewYouWouldSayThat: At several points during the will reading, the will responds to the reactions of the heirs. Apart from a couple of interruptions that [[spoiler:were staged by Westing himself in the role of Sandy]], no explanation is given beyond the implication that Westing had studied them all closely enough to predict their reactions.
** "Sit down, Grace Windsor Wexler!"
** "Sit down, your honor, and read the letter this brilliant young attorney will now hand over to you."
* TechMarchesOn: Westing's game simply wouldn't have been workable in the internet era. Most teams' sets of clues would cough up the right [[spoiler: song title]] on page one of a Google search.
* ThemedAliases: The big reveal surrounds someone's aliases selected by this trope: [[spoiler: the eponymous Mr. Westing was one of four aliases all with names containing a cardinal direction.]]
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Turtle and Angela Wexler, respectively.
* TooCleverByHalf:
** Turtle. Including when she outsmarts herself, such as assuming the clues are stock options and the will's directive to "[[ProductPlacement Buy Westing Paper Products]]!" is to be taken literally.
** Sydelle makes similar mistakes at times.
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: James Hoo eats plenty of chocolate bars during the course of the novel, because of his ulcer.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: The back cover proclaims that only two people have all the clues to the mystery: a Westing heir and you (the reader). This gives away the fact that one of the heirs is secretly [[spoiler: Sam Westing himself]].
* TwoAliasesOneCharacter: Zig-zagged [[spoiler: with ''four'' aliases]].
* TheUnchosenOne: Literal example: Sydelle Pulaski is only included among the heirs ''by accident'', yet she's also the one who [[spoiler: figures out the clues are song lyrics]].
* TheUnfavorite: Turtle is ignored and insulted by her mother because she's not an obedient girly girl like Angela.
* UnfortunateName: ''Windkloppel'', which neither Grace Wexler nor [[spoiler:Sam Westing]] cared to admit to. Ed Plum's otherwise-inoffensive name gets him singled out as a suspect by one of the teams.
* TheUnreveal:
** During the reading of the will, Sandy [=McSouthers=] makes a joke, cutting off the lawyer before the last word in the third section is read. We never do find out what the last word is... [[spoiler:because there is no last word; the will only reads, "The one who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the... FOURTH;" referring to the fourth identity of Westing himself.]]
** A more minor one: the cross necklace Turtle takes with her to ward away vampires when she explores the Westing House gets lost and left behind; as a result it's later assumed to be one of the items [[StickyFingers stolen by]] [[spoiler:Madame Hoo]]. Turtle sees it, inexplicably, held in the hands of Westing's corpse at the reading of the will, but no one else notices it. It's never mentioned in the article about the discovery of Westing's body, and after it being noted as not among the returned items, it's forgotten about completely.
* WhamLine: "Please [[spoiler: place your gun in the custody of the court]]."
* WhatAnIdiot: Invoked in-story, and self-inflicted, when Ford realizes that she (and everyone but Turtle) had fallen for Westing's "Queen's Sacrifice" again, this time in a non-chess setting.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: The last three chapters detail significant events the heirs experienced during the twenty years after the solution.
* WhyWasteAWedding: Grace Wexler spends a large part of the story making elaborate preparations for the wedding of her daughter Angela, unaware that Angela is having major second thoughts. In the end, the preparations are instead used for the wedding of [[spoiler:Crow and Otis Amber]].
* TheWindyCity: Sandy's file on the Hoo family says that James hails from Chicago.
* XanatosSpeedChess: Bordering on GambitRoulette. [[spoiler: Westing pretty much manipulated everyone,]] but as Sandy points out [[spoiler: he did make at least one mistake by including Sydelle Pulaski. Of course, [[SelfDeprecation Westing is Sandy...]]]]
** Turtle's "trial" suggests she's developing a talent for this trope, too.

!!Tropes unique to the 1997 TV movie include:

* AdaptationNameChange:
** Mr. Hoo's first name changed from "James" to "George".
** Grace's maiden name has changed from "Windkloppel" to "Klopplehoff". She also doesn't use a fake maiden name, [[spoiler:and admits to Turtle that she felt disgusted when Sam Westing dropped that name.]]
* AdaptationPersonalityChange: Otis doesn't act as naïve as he did in the book. [[spoiler:He also has a grudge against Sam Westing for taking credit for one of his inventions, similar to James Hoo's reason in the book for mistrusting Westing.]]
* AdaptationalHeroism: Grace doesn't treat Turtle as TheUnfavorite.
* AdaptationalVillainy: Slight examples for Sandy [=McSouthers=] and Sam Westing. The former less acts innocent in this version-as one example, note how more certain he sounds that the will means one of the players murdered Westing. [[spoiler:Additionally, Westing forced his and Crow's daughter into the ArrangedMarriage, and made Crow the prime suspect of the game because he felt bitter at her, for not trying to cancel the marriage before their child became DrivenToSuicide.]]
* AdaptedOut: The movie lacks Madame Hoo, Theo Theodorakis, and Flora Baumbach (pairing Turtle with Chris as a result). It also changed some of the remaining heirs' personalities and motivations.
* AscendedExtra: Ed Plum replaces Dr. Deere as Angela's fiancée.
* DemotedToExtra: The increased focus on Turtle and Chris makes this affect all the other heirs to a degree, but Jake Wexler, Doug Hoo, and Dr. Deere in particular don't even get to play the game. The doctor only appears once in the whole movie.
* EurekaMoment: [[spoiler:Turtle realizes that the clues could form a song by putting "fruited" and "plain" together.]]
* FamousLastWords: [[spoiler:When Sandy "[[FakingTheDead drops dead]]" after the reading of the second half of the will, he whispers to Turtle, "You've been playing the wrong game." This prompts Turtle to read the will herself, and discover the ''real'' goal: "The heir who wins the windfall will be the one who finds the fourth."]]
* FlashForward: [[spoiler:As Turtle and Mr. Eastman discuss how positively the game seems to have impacted the heirs' lives and relationships, Eastman lets Turtle know what bright futures he hopes they will all have (eg, Angela graduating medical school, Chris becoming a champion chess player, Otis and Crow getting married), and asks Turtle to tell him when they come true.]]
* MarketBasedTitle: The home video release was renamed ''Get a Clue!''.
* TheSummation: [[spoiler:Turtle gives one to Julian Eastman as she explains how she figured out his alter egos, with clips of the movie illustrating for the viewers.]]
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Chris' main hobby has changed from birdwatching to computing. He and Turtle have a special program for compiling out the clues they collect, and some of the book's ChessMotifs become incorporated in a virtual chess game between Chris and [[spoiler:Sam Westing]].
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