One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin #BookReview #BlogTour

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 changes him forever?

I'm delighted to be hosting One Last Prayer for the Rays alongside two of my fellow bloggers, Claire at  A Story About A Girl and Rainne at Just Books. Many thanks to Wes Markin and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I always look forward to discovering a new crime series so I couldn't resist One Last Prayer for the Rays, particularly as it's set in Salisbury, which is the nearest city to my home town and an area I know quite well. If last year's Novichok poisonings and then the attempted theft of the Magna Carta weren't bad enough, it turns out that Salisbury has also been home to the Ray family for generations. There are dysfunctional families everywhere but few can have wreaked quite as much devastation as the Rays. Most of the story is set in the present but the opening scene takes place eight years previously and helps explain just why DCI Michael Yorke's heart sinks when he is called to a school to investigate the disappearance of a pupil and discovers the boy's name is Paul Ray. The boy was given permission to go to the toilet during a lesson but when he failed to return, his teacher went to find him and instead discovered a pool of blood. When Yorke goes to check the area, he spots a sinister message written in blood on the wall above the toilet, 'In the Blood'.
 One Last Prayer for the Rays switches between a traditional police procedural which follows Yorke and his fellow officers as they try to discover who took Paul and where he is now and a psychological thriller which follows a number of different perspectives, including Paul's and arguably most intriguingly, Lacey Ray's. Lacey is Paul's aunt and without giving too much away, it's fair to say she's a memorable character who definitely leaves her mark on the proceedings. There's another character whose actions are terrifyingly demented and I'll never be able to look at the pigs who live by Stonehenge in quite the same way again ...
As the first novel in a new series, One Last Prayer to the Rays has to introduce a number of characters, including Yorke's colleagues and the victims and suspects involved with this particular case. My initial impressions of Michael Yorke and his team are favourable and while I feel that there is still much to learn about their lives, there was enough here to grab my attention and make me want to read further books featuring them. It's the Ray family members who are the most significant characters here, however, and as despicable as many of them are, I loved the scenes they appear in. Whether it's reading about the devastating effect of Paul's disappearance on his parents, Joe and Sarah - and how it impacts on their marriage, seeing how young Paul himself reacts to the awful realisation that he has been kidnapped, learning more about what the aforementioned Lacey is capable of, or the glimpses into the past atrocities perpetrated by Thomas Ray and his predecessors, their actions are frequently shocking but I couldn't tear my eyes from the page. Their macabre history is horrifying and raises the question as to whether evil such as this is in the blood or passed down through the generations as learned behaviour.
The truth behind Paul's disappearance is gradually revealed, with little clues along the way but there are still surprises in store and I was never quite sure what was going to happen next in a novel which kept me guessing right up until the end. The twisted, visceral brutality of the violence means that One Last Prayer for the Rays isn't a book for the squeamish but for those of us who like our crime thrillers to be gory, this well-plotted, gripping thriller is a fabulous introduction to the DCI Michael Yorke series  - I can't wait to read more!

One Last Prayer for the Rays can be purchased from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour for more reviews, extracts and guest posts.

About the Author

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.
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