Harper Collins was so impressed the firm bought the rights and published the book worldwide two years later.
Since then the Derby author has written another four novels and built up a loyal following.
Each of his books, now published by Headline, is based around the lead character, Detective Inspector Damen Brook, a former high-flying Metropolitan Police officer who is haunted by his failure to catch a brutal serial killer. He is based in the Peak District and Steven always references places with which Derbyshire people will be familiar.
In his latest book The Killing Moon DI Brooks is confronted with kidnap, torture and murder.
He has to trawl his way through the murky world of cheap migrant labour in his bid to find missing Caitlin Kinnear who was kidnapped on her way home from the pub.
Steven Dunne was born in Bradford, and after university became a freelance journalist writing for The Times and the Independent.
He began teaching in Croydon in 1988 but it was when he moved to Derby in 1996 that he started to think about writing a novel.
He self-published The Reaper after spending two fruitless years trying to get it published.
The author is also a part-time teacher at Murray Park School in Derby.
He will be signing copies of his book at Scarthin Books, Cromford on August 14 between 4pm and 6pm.