“Gag Me: A Friday Harbor Novel” by Susan Wingate

Gag Me: A Friday Harbor Novel

Susan Wingate
Roberts Press (2022)
ISBN: 9798799713874
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (06/22)

It started at Lubos. The noxious smell, Winsey’s relentless chatter, and the gargoyle at the end of the bar who was eyeballing you. You’d politely asked Winsey to shut the eff up (you have Aspergers, and thus, no filter) because her complaining bordered on petulance, and you’d had enough. After saying goodbye, you fled the bar, looking forward to a quiet night at home, binge-watching Law & Order for the umpteenth time and snuggling with your overweight cat. The next thing you know, your phone is lit up by the sheriff, demanding that you come down to the station because Winsey is dead and you’re the number one suspect.

No effing way!

Next thing you know, you’re embroiled in a murder case, and the gargoyle from the bar keeps showing up, sniffing around, asking questions. You just want to be alone to grieve the loss of your friend, but he wants your help. Sigh. This isn’t going to be fun.

“Gag Me: A Friday Harbor Novel” is a cleverly crafted mystery penned for readers who like a little snarkiness with their crime. Because it is written from the second-person perspective, readers see the story through the eyes of the sarcastic, idiosyncratic main character, who you can’t help but cheer for. But beyond the protagonist, there is a motley group of characters who make the whodunit that much more intriguing—Connor, aka the gargoyle, your mother, Jane, aka the junkie-that’s-dating-your-ex, and Diggins, an anal-retentive sheriff that has it out for you. These heavily flawed, multidimensional personalities add intrigue to the story and buttress the central conflict.

I could sit here all day and applaud the character development, but then I would miss the opportunity to fangirl over the other praiseworthy elements like the storyline. The writing was clever and immersive, and I could have easily read “Gag Me: A Friday Harbor Novel” in one sitting if it wasn’t for silly necessities—like sleeping and eating—but such is life. Susan Wingate is a gifted writer who proves that timing—especially in crime and mystery— is everything, deftly appealing to the reader’s appetite by sprinkling tiny breadcrumbs of information throughout, just enough to keep them hungry for more. On several occasions, I thought, Aha! I know what happened to Winsey, only to be mistaken, and then I would furiously scour the pages, determined to find out once and for all.

Between the strength in character development and the unexpected twists and turns, the cheeky and adorably eccentric story deserves a spot on every mystery enthusiast’s bookshelf. So if you have a dark sense of humor and tend to root for the underdog, do yourself a favor and grab this book—it’s effing amazing!

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