Authors: Dave White
The following is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in an entirely fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2007 by Dave White
Cover design by Adrijus Guscia
First published in 2007 by Three Rivers Press
Reissued in 2013 by Polis Books, LLC
60 West 23
New York, NY 10010
Praise for Dave White and
When One Man Dies
“Dave White is everything you hope for in a crime novelist, delivering both white knuckle suspense and nuanced characters, propulsive action and an emotional wallop. These are books that both invigorate the genre and are also, truly, built to last.”
—Megan Abbott, award-winning author of
“White has written a PI novel that is both traditional and fresh, one of the few new talents to join this much-plowed field with something interesting and original to say. Fans of detective novels will, we hope, be enjoying his work for years to come.”
“Will grab most readers from its opening sentences. Fans of hard-hitting, uncompromising private investigators will hope that Donne ditches his college dreams and continues to pound the pavement.”
“A terrific novel, a unique and artful blend of the PI and the Police Procedural in a plot as nicely tangled and sexually violent as a cat fight, a story as deceptively simple as your first love and as fatal as your last car wreck. It’s a great read.”
—James Crumley, Dashiell Hammett Award-winning author of
The Last Good Kiss
“Everybody wins when a classic form, such as the private-eye novel, meets up with a class act, such as Dave White. In his remarkable debut novel, WHEN ONE MAN DIES, White manages the neat trick of respecting the genre’s traditions while daring to nudge it toward something new and unexpected. And Jackson Donne is a wonderful character, someone with whom readers will happily share many beers in the Olde Towne Tavern for years to come. Lots of promise here -- in Donne and White. I’m rooting for both of them.”
—Laura Lippman, Edgar Award-winning author of
What The Dead Know
“Every now and then you find a debut novel that carries the clear promise of big things to come. WHEN ONE MAN DIES is one of those. Fast and funny, with plenty of classic action but a setting and character that are entirely new, Dave White is creating a winner with Jackson Donne. Always good to get in on the ground floor.”
Book Prize-winning author of
“Jackson Donne takes his place alongside the grim and battered P.I.s of yore -- your Archers, your Spades -- uncovering painful truths and doling out what passes in this tarnished world for justice. Bracing stuff.”
—Charles Ardai, Edgar Award-winning writer and publisher of Hard Case Crime
“When I read my first Dave White story, I knew that he was going to be huge someday–like, Robert Parker huge. When One Man Dies is the first bold step in fulfilling that promise. It’s the great American private eye novel reborn for the 21st
century, with a fast-moving, spare style that punches you in the gut at the same time it squeezes your heart.”
—Duane Swierczynski, author of
Hell And Gone
“WHEN ONE MAN DIES heralds the introduction of two astonishing new figures in the crime fiction world: New Jersey PI Jackson Donne, whose emotional journey will break your heart, and author Dave White, whose voice has the confidence and assurance many more established writers would kill for.”
—Sarah Weinman, editor of
Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives
Jackson Donne novels
The Evil That Men Do
Not Even Past
Witness to Death
To Mom, Dad, and Tom
For their love and support
When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.
—John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
I’ve killed three men in my life. One the police know about, two that I’ve kept to myself. For the fourth time in three months, I had blood on my hands, and all the forgotten images of the dead were swirling back to me.
This time, however, I wasn’t doing the killing. I was in the middle of Easton Ave., trying to pump life back into a man I used to drink with for hours on end.
He was bleeding from the nose and mouth. He wasn’t breathing. I could feel his ribs crunch with every compress of my hands on his chest.
I couldn’t yet hear the ambulances and Robert Wood Johnson Hospital was right down the street.
I yelled, “Someone call nine-one-one!”
But I knew it was too late, and Gerry was gone. Dead bodies look different from live ones. I should know.
The Olde Towne Tavern was pretty crowded for a late Monday afternoon. Standing in the back, under a dimming Budweiser neon light, two college kids played pool. To my left, leaning against the stained wooden wall, two guys discussed baseball and the greatest American rock and roll band at the same time. It was impressive. A young couple sat at a dirty table finishing their lunch. Gerry sat next to me, and bought me a Heineken. He had his cup of coffee, and the breath to go with it.
We were celebrating.
“Accepted, huh? Gonna be a freshman at twenty-seven years old?”
“Whatever. It’s still old to go to college. But I’m proud of ya. Can’t keep this private eye stuff up all your life.”
“Hey, I have to pay tuition somehow.” Not that I was getting many cases lately. When your face is plastered all over the news and most of it isn’t good, the clients aren’t exactly knocking down your door.
I decided to come to the tavern for lunch today after getting my mail. I pulled out one of those big envelopes that high school seniors pray for. Opening it up, I found a letter that began, “Dear Mr. Donne, We are pleased to announce your acceptance to Rutgers University . . .” Best news I’d had in two months.
I drank my beer and Gerry blathered. Eventually, my burger would show, I could eat and get out of here. Gerry’s a nice guy, but grating when he starts to get a rant on.
“Never went to college myself. Had a war to fight. Fucking Korea.”
“I remember, Gerry.” Gerry talked about two things. Korea and his former life as an actor.
“So, tell me about this college thing. What are you going to do? When are you going to start?”
I finished my beer, still waiting for Artie to bring me my burger. “Probably start next fall. In September, once I get all of the tests out of the way.”