A book signing seems an improbable location to spark an investigation that in turn ignites a firestorm of revelations, unearths serial murder, and uncovers heinous secrets, but that is how Dying Wish begins. Set in the south English countryside of the New Forest, James Raven’s latest novel is full of quaint destinations and quirky characters. Yet the forest holds the dark secrets of certain unknown individuals who frequent the supposedly tranquil location.
Nature author Grant Mason is signing books at a village bookshop when pain strikes. A heart attack. His dying wish leads Mason’s assistant to seek Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Temple’s advice. Temple agrees to look into Mason’s strange final request and visits Mason’s home in the New Forest. When Temple is attacked, an investigation begins bringing in Temple’s Hampshire Major Investigations Team. Further examination of Mason’s home explains the man’s desperate final request. If Temple hadn’t known it before, the case at the New Forest shows Temple that people are not always who they appear to be.
This is the second James Raven novel I have read featuring DCI Jeff Temple. Temple continues to intrigue me. He is a complex and well-rounded narrator. Temple has past pains and can be fallible at times, which makes him relatable, but he is also grounded and open to others around him making him likeable. The infrequent sidebar expositions tend to distract the reader momentarily from the main action of the ongoing story, but this also shows how DCI Temple’s mind is always working at many different angles. He is consciously aware of his digressions and pushes himself back to focusing on the task at hand.
I purposefully take my time reading. I want to savor the words and lose myself in the plot getting to know the characters. That went out the window with James Raven’s Dying Wish. I couldn’t put the novel down. I read it in a day. Yet I also savored the story and lost myself within it. I fell right into the rhythm of Dying Wish. The mystery was solid. The crimes were gruesome, yet I continued reading because I wanted to know the who, how, what, why, and when of the story. As I guessed ahead, I wanted to know if I was correct or why not. I wanted to get to the end of the novel to know the mystery yet I enjoyed the story and did not want it to end so quickly. All in all, I found Dying Wish an immersive story that captured and held my attention throughout.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review copy was provided by James Raven.