Dunne, Steven - 'The Reaper'
THE REAPER is the first book from Steven Dunne who introduces the reader to DI Damen Brook (formerly with the Metropolitan Police) but now working in Derby following his work trying to find a serial killer that destroyed his marriage and very nearly his sanity. THE REAPER was previously self published but has been re-issued by HarperCollins under its Avon division.
DI Brook is called to the murder scene of a family after his on-duty colleague is tied-up on the murder of an old woman. The scene that greets Brook is strangely familiar - a family murdered in their home by a killer who has disappeared without leaving a trace. When he inspects the crime scene, there are the bodies of the father (a petty criminal), his wife, daughter Kylie and a baby. The parents were sat on the sofa with their throats cut and the daughter had the words SAVED carved into her back along with the words SAVED daubed in blood on the wall. The Reaper was back (the name given because the killer seemed to have just taken the families he killed like the grim reaper). The only survivor in this case was son Jason (a young lad intent on following in his father's criminal footsteps).
So with the past coming back to haunt him (and the local police not really liking a former Met officer being dropped on them), Brook needs to find the killer. Having been involved in the original murders (Harlesden in 1990 and Brixton in 1991) when he was a DS, this is a continuation of the case that nearly destroyed him. Will he be able to solve the case, unlike last time, or will the killer get away with it again?
DI Brook goes to see his old boss in the Met only to be told that the man suspected of being the killer is dead – Brook can't understand how accurately these new murders mimic the previous cases. Brook tries to reconcile his feelings for PC Wendy Jones after a one night stand, although she seems to be the only one who believes in him.
Steven Dunne's book is a superb first novel, very well written with a plot that grabs you right from the start. The book is fairly graphic in its content as it deals with the murder of young children, but the complexities of the case make it a great book to stick with. The story runs through many twists and turns until the somewhat shocking end. The second book in the Reaper series, THE DISCIPLE, will certainly be a book to look out for.
Paul Blackburn, Scotland