Not Even Past: A Jackson Donne Novel by Dave White (Polis Books, February 24, 2015) It can be tough to jump into a series book without having read the books that came before. While it’s never been my opinion that the author must always do whatever they can to catch the reader up (especially when series novels can be taken as standalone pieces), I’m always impressed when a writer can not only put together an extremely strong entry in a series, but keep the reader informed without sledgehammering character or plot history into the narrative. Dave White accomplishes this deftly in the third Jackson Donne novel, Not Even Past.
Jackson Donne has his life together—for the most part. Down to single digit beer totals on nights out (mostly in now), back at school, and navigating his way towards marital bliss, Donne’s achieved something close to a normal life. A single email with a link to a video will change all that and send Donne headfirst into a world he thought he escaped and right into the arms of old enemies, friends, and a fiancé he thought died six years ago.
As a complete newbie to Dave White’s writing, I came into Not Even Past cold. There was never a time I regret that and by the end of the book, I knew—even with spoilers—I’d be pulling up the other two Jackson Donne novels to read as soon as I can. White’s not only got a vicious, mile-a-minute flow (I devoured this book over a single two-hour flight), but he’s got a gift when it comes to providing the dreaded info-dump. It’s almost always short, sharp, and worth the reader’s time. It also doesn’t hurt that White sure knows how to keep the stakes raised and a reader guessing for all the right reasons.
Credit is due to White’s character work. Donne is likeable and flawed but doesn’t feel like the typical PI protagonist. It’s not hard to believe in his baggage and there weren’t many times I questioned his actions. Other characters follow suit, and many of their own choices are equally believable, even if the reader won’t agree with them. The world White’s crafted feels real, interesting, and most of all, authentically ‘New Jersey’. A lot of great effort goes into ensuring the reader is as familiar with the nooks, crannies, and never-ending highways that are the Garden State. As a fellow Jersey resident (or exile) this level of attention to detail is engrossing, but non-residents shouldn’t worry; they’ll learn enough to maybe reroute their drives through the state (I kid…not really).
Jersey jokes aside, Dave White impresses thoroughly with this effort. I’m looking forward to what he has planned for Jackson Donne next and definitely look forward to reading the previous novels, When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do and his standalone efforts. Based on the strength of Not Even Past, I recommend crime fiction fans pick up the Jackson Donne series and enjoy it from start to end.
Some credit to White’s publisher, Polis Books. They’ve been on an absolute tear lately with not only White’s latest, but quite a few highly anticipated novels coming in the next few months.