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Ellen Raskin's all-American mystery

Milwaukee native Ellen Raskin (1928-'84) became a novelist from the outside in.

She started in publishing as a book cover designer and illustrator, including the original cover illustration for Madeleine L’Engle’s classic "A Wrinkle in Time "(1963). Then Raskin created children’s picture books. Later in her life, she turned to novels for young readers, culminating in "The Westing Game," which won the Newbery Medal in 1979 for the year’s best children’s book.

Ostensibly a novel for children, "The Westing Game" has acquired a strong following among adult readers, caught up in this story of 16 characters deciphering clues in a competition to inherit a rich man’s fortune. In a 2014 New York Times interview, actor Neil Patrick Harris confessed to being “a bit obsessed” with the novel and expressed his desire to “direct a really dark, moody version of it.”

Gillian Flynn, author of the bestseller "Gone Girl," wrote in a recent essay that she rereads "The Westing Game" once a year. “It sucked me in when I read it for the first time as a kid, and it has influenced all my novels in some small way,” Flynn wrote.

Read this excerpt from Wisconsin Literary Luminaries at

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