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The Reaper, Steven Dunne,  ****


Itís difficult 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




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 self-published."

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


Derby Telegraph

23 February 2007






By: Steven Dunne.


DERBY and the Peak District are the backdrop to a new thriller just published by a local freelance writer and teacher.

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 in Mickleover.


The Derby Telegraph

17 February 2007