This was around the time that the phrase, ‘Pray for the Rays’ became commonplace
I don’t really know how to put into coherent words how I felt about this novel, because I don’t actually know how I feel! Although a good solid crime fiction novel, One Last Prayer for the Rays was lacking something that would have made this great.
Before I delve in, though, here is the synopsis of the novel from Goodreads:
“A pool of blood, an abduction, swirling blizzards, a haunting mystery, yes, Wes Markin’s One Last Prayer for the Rays has all the makings of an absorbing thriller. I recommend that you give it a go.” –Bestselling Author Alan Gibbons
School should be the safest place in the world. Not this winter.
DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.
When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.
But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers change him forever?
One Last Prayer for the Rays, introducing DCI Michael Yorke.
Thoughts on the Narrative…
There is no doubt that Wes Markin is going to be a contender for well-written crime procedural thrillers. The writing within this novel attests to Markin’s growing ability and his creativity as well as his attention to detail and understanding of the intricacies of crime fiction.
One Last Prayer for the Rays is a novel which speaks of the complexities of familial connections. It concentrates upon the family of the Rays, a renown family of cruelty, neglect and murder. The readers are introduced to the Rays through the character of Thomas Ray, a man who murders a police officer’s wife (who was his check-at-home nurse) because of a delusion eight years before. Fast forward to the present, Joe Ray, cousin to Thomas, is told that his son Paul has been kidnapped from his private secondary college.
This is the context in which the readers first meet the protagonist this series is named after, and that is Detective Inspector Michael Yorke. I have to be honest, he has a pretty legendary name for a detective.
Yorke. Michael Yorke.
See, it flows off the tongue.
What follows is a race to find the links between Paul and a reason for his kidnapping. Yorke, alongside a team of characters, work extremely hard in connecting any sort of leads to save the young boy’s life. It is a harrowing game of chess; an attempt to be one step forward of the kidnapper and murderer. But most importantly, who is the kidnapper and what do they want? As you read, you quickly come to the understanding that there is more to this entire situation than meets the eye and that is when shit gets real.
And I mean real.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have been on such an obsessive period of reading crime fiction recently, and so I was excited to get into this. The premise is one that is not surprising in the crime fiction genre, and its popularity speaks to its likeability and the complexities that the authors can further formulate. What I found interesting is the fact that the novel is not a single perspective; rather, the reader is placed within various character perspectives throughout the novel. To the point that a single chapter is not limited to one perspective, but to many. This was so that the reader was given a full purview of the situation through the eyes of the detectives, the victim’s family and the perpetrators. This way, you are able to get a sense of the various ways in which kidnapping and murder, can impact all those involved in differing and startling ways.
Thoughts on the Characters…
There is an implication that Michael Yorke is meant to be the Detective Columbo of the book. The one who gets into the grittiness of human emotion, motivation and action; Yorke is at the forefront of connecting the pieces together to solve the puzzle; his character is the Leader, the one who gets it done. However, although Yorke was meant to be a powerhouse character, I wasn’t able to really delve into his personality. I felt a disconnect with his character that I don’t usually feel with crime fiction. I believe this is because other crime fiction allows the perspective of the lead Detective or Investigator to be the main point of view. This way, the readers are more able to emotionally invest in the character which then results in a more three-dimensional characterisation. Unfortunately, I did not find Yorke to be three-dimensional, I feel as though that because this novel is the first in a series, the foundations were being laid of the cast; so I’m hopeful that the future books within this series will have more of a solid characterisation of Yorke.
Though we get a variety of character perspectives, we are not given enough time to really understand the characters. They’re not fleshed out enough for me to really understand nor care for them. However, this is the first in a series so further development could be in the works for future novels.
The character that did have a significant portion of the book, and is also the character the readers are left with the cliff-hanger, is Lacey Ray. Lacey Ray is the aunt of Paul Ray, the boy who was kidnapped, and thus the sister of Joe Ray, the father of Paul. In the beginning, I quite enjoyed the psychopathy of Lacey. She was written with such rawness that was not meant to sugarcoat the horror of her character. She was written quite well and I feel was given more time in the spotlight than the character of Yorke. Though she was definitely an intriguing character – more so because she terrified me – I did not understand her purpose. I did not understand why her character was significant, I also don’t understand the minor plot points that she was the instigator of – I could not put my head around her character and why she was there. I would ask myself was it to show how gosh-darn psychopathic she was that we were shown when she would have sex with men and kill them, or when she would harras Jake, another detective, whom she used to date? Was her character only a way to foreground the sequel, which will most likely be the case because of how this novel ended?
Her purpose was beyond me, so maybe the next book will help with that. What I also don’t understand was the ‘Blue Room. Every time Lacey would kill, she would enter the ‘Blue Room’ because it allowed her the detachment and the instincts to murder her male victims. In this sense, I think Lacey would be classified as a sort of ‘Black Widow’ serial killer, in that she sleeps with her victims and then kills them. I wanted to so badly understand the Blue Room because it was so pivotal to Lacey’s characterisation, but the mystique that surrounded it and the fact that the reader is left in the dark does not make it suspenseful, just frustrating. On some level, I think that the Blue Room is a sort of severe compartmentalisation but also a second ‘personality’ as the Blue Room talks to Lacey, but again, I feel as though it’s beyond me, at this point.
In saying that though, this novel is a solid crime thriller. Markin has made a mark and I look forward to reading the subsequent novels within this series, so I can have my questions answered and I can see some character insights into Yorke. I rate this novel a 3.5 stars out of 5. If you are an aficionado of crime fiction or would like to dip your toes into it, I do recommend reading Wes Markin’s One Last Prayer for the Rays as it is a good start to what I think will be a great crime series.
Also, One Last Prayer For The Rays is at 99p for one day only and that the price will rise on the 12th! So, if you want to have a go, why not do it now!
I hope you enjoyed this review! Make sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! That’s it for today, friends. Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,
Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.
Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.
Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.
NOTE: I just want to extend my gratitude to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.