Steven Dunne, ****
to believe that this self-published crime thriller has escaped the attention
of mainstream houses. Dunne has created a detective, Damen Brook, to equal
Rankinís Rebus and Dexterís Morse in his quirky world-weariness and
psychological credibility. Brook first encounters The Reaper Ė a serial
killer who dispatches whole families at once Ė when a rising star of the
Metís CID. He becomes totally consumed by the case, and knows exactly who
the culprit is; one Professor Sorensen, a meticulous, well-educated
vigilante. But Damen canít nail him. Brookís obsession cost him his wife and
daughter and very nearly his sanity. He moves to the relative backwater of
Derby and, over a decade after the Reaperís last attack, the killing starts
again. Gripping intelligent fare.
What's on in London
GRIM REAPER MAKES A KILLING
BY SHIRLEY BROOKS
A Book focusing on a series of
brutal killings on a Derby estate has become a best seller in the city, just
three weeks after it hit the shelves. Staff at Waterstones in
St Peter's Street have had to order
extra copies of Reaper, by local author Steven Dunne, as customers have
picked up more than 60 copies.
By comparison, this year's Costa Book Awards winner
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney sold 32 copies in the same three
weeks. Reaper is a gory whodunit about a serial
killer, set in Derby
and the Peak District.
Mr Dunne, who spent six years working on the
full-length novel, said he was delighted to hear that his book was proving
so popular. The 49-year-old said: "It's had a lot of interest, but becoming
a best seller is definitely beyond my expectations.
"The news is more pleasing because Reaper is
The novel is filled with descriptions of recognisable
places in Derby,
including the Evening Telegraph, Derbyshire Royal Infirmary and real place
names. However the
murders take place in the fictional Drayfin Estate.
Mr Dunne, who works as a supply teacher in
Derby, insists that the
area, described as Asbo-land, is not a reference to any real part of the
city. He said: "I
picked a name that didn't sound out of place, but it really is a fictional
place." Mr Dunne moved from
London to Derby with his wife, Carmel McKenna, when she
became head teacher at St Claire's Special School in Mickleover.
He added: "My wife has been
my sounding board as I wrote the various versions of it. She always said
that she thought it was a good thriller. "Reaper is an idea that came to me
a few years ago when I was seeing certain trends in society. I was
interested by the way law and order issues drove generally liberal people
into raving right-wing maniacs!
"And this is a struggle that the police detective in
my novel goes through."
Assistant manager Sarah Owen said: "We have already
put in an order for another 60 copies. It's proved really popular."
Manager Sean Heavens said that the success of the book
was rare, especially for a new author.Reaper
TEACHER'S THRILLER IS IN A
CLASS OF ITS OWN
By: Steven Dunne.
DERBY and the Peak District are the
backdrop to a new thriller just published by a local freelance writer and
Steven Dunne spent six years working on the
full-length novel, Reaper, a gory whodunit about a serial killer, who comes
back from the past to haunt the life of a misfit, down-at-heel police
detective. The career of Dunne, who left
London in the mid-90s for a quieter
life in the East Midlands, is mirrored in the entirely fictional and
tortured life of Detective Inspector Damen Brook.
Dunne left south
London and took up a job supply
teaching in Derby in 1996.
Brook leaves the Metropolitan Police under something
of a cloud after failing to catch the Reaper, who has struck twice with the
ritualised murder of two families in the capital. He moves to Derbyshire
police, hoping to put it all in the past in a grimy flat in the
Uttoxeter Road. But his
nightmare follows him up the M1 and the killer strikes again in the
fictional Derby suburb of Drayfin, leaving three bodies and a bloody message
on the wall for Brook, a loner resented by his new colleagues.
Dunne, 49, says he resisted any temptation to tweak
Brook's character with eccentricity, al la Morse, though he did give him a
beloved Frogeye Sprite with a dicky water pump. "He's a fairly flat, cold,
driven character, an outsider. I deliberately wanted to isolate him in
Derby so that the
plot became him versus the Reaper. He is trying to run away from the horror
of London and be somehow normal and forget the past.
So I chose to move him to
Derby. Because I live here,
I could give the plot some familiar touches. I knew there would be local
sales for the book, so that fitted too."
Dunne, who has also worked as a freelance journalist,
says he hopes the book works on several levels - the story of one man's
ghoulish tussle with a monster and as a psychological study of isolation,
the nature of evil and the compulsion to kill. The book flashes backwards
and forwards between past and present as it works towards a resolution of a
not completely original kind.
"I hope it keeps the reader guessing, not only as a
whodunit but a 'why-dunnit', said Dunne, who works part-time at
Murray Park secondary school
The Derby Telegraph
17 February 2007