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When One Man Dies (Jackson Donne Mysteries) Paperback – September 25, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Jackson Donne Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Derringer Award–winner White's engrossing, evocative debut novel will grab most readers from its opening sentences: I've killed three men in my life. One the police know about, two that I've kept to myself. New Jersey ex-cop Jackson Donne is about to use profits from his PI business to fund a bachelor's degree when his closest friend, Korean War vet Gerry Figuroa, is killed in a hit-and-run. Reluctantly investigating the accident, Donne finds evidence that Figuroa may have been supplementing his actor's income by manufacturing crystal meth, and soon suspicious ties appear to an apparently unrelated adultery and divorce case. White manages to make improbable plot twists seem plausible, and his choice to alternate Donne's slightly unhinged first-person narration with the third-person perspective of New Brunswick Police Det. Bill Martin, Donne's despicably corrupt former partner and nemesis, works surprisingly well. Fans of hard-hitting, uncompromising private investigators will hope that Donne ditches his college dreams and continues to pound the pavement. (Sept.)
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“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 and The Right Madness

"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 Every Secret Thing

"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."
-Michael Koryta, Edgar-nominated author of A WELCOME GRAVE

"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 The Blonde and The Wheelman

"Every new crew of crime writers has one standout, and true to form here comes Dave White, an author who made his bones in short story form before most writers ever find their legs. WHEN ONE MAN DIES steps him up as a made man in the genre …an awesome debut … forgetaboutit."
-Charlie Stella, author of Cheapskates and Charlie Opera

"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 "Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind"

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Product Details

  • Series: Jackson Donne Mysteries
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382788
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. J. Hayes on April 1, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
or the Bosnian Mob or stolen rocket plans or deadly nukes trucking around the country or secret societies with anti-matter and a grudge against Catholic goldfish or crotchety doctors with a limp for crissakes!
If you need any or all of the above then, When One Man Dies, is not for you. It has an interesting, well written plot and believable characters who are up to their own forms of No Good -- including the main guy, PI John Donne.
There's not a lot of constantly rising, cliffhanging action but the pace is brisk and the separate events are well placed to keep the reader going. The PI wants what his honor demands. The bad guy does what he has to to get even with the PI. The other characters good, bad, and some of both, do what they do. The conclusion makes sense. Great book to settle back with. A cup of coffee, a pack of smokes and this book on a spring going into summer afternoon and you got a great way to spend a few hours. Yeah.
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Format: Paperback
I got an unexpected ARC in the mail in September: Dave White's When One Man Dies. Intrigued by the quotes on the back, I started it right away. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past page 10. This is a good example of how a distracting "surface" (an author's style) can get in the way of the appreciation of deeper matters like character and story.

I have a few pet peeves in fiction, and one of them is long-windedness. Stating the same thing, reworded, in two (or three) consecutive sentences. Or letting characters spend five paragraphs talking about what's on the jukebox if they do nothing but agree with each other -- that doesn't tell me anything more about them than I already knew.

Another thing that has unfortunately become very popular is an author's thinking that real-world dialogue is the same as realistic fiction dialogue. People in real life mutter and "um" and take forever to get to the point, but this is grating in a novel. If your characters state everything I need to know in two sentences of a conversation, the rest can safely be cut. I like a little color in my characters as much as anybody, but it needs to be carefully folded into an already tight text.

Style and voice are subjective things that we react to individually. Obviously, based on the blurbs, other people really enjoyed this book, so your experience may be different from mine. But I won't be going any further with this book. And this is unfortunate, because the relationship between the young P.I. and the older gent intrigued me.
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Format: Paperback
"I've killed three men in my life. One the police know about, two that I've kept to myself."

From the killer opening line, When One Man Dies is off to the races. Dave White's first novel-length Jackson Donne adventure follows up on the already solid series of short stories he's published over the past several years. White brings back some old familiar faces (Gerry Figuroa, Bill Martin) and introduces some new characters along the way.

New Jersey PI Jackson Donne is about to go back to college when his friend, the aging actor Gerry Figuroa (first seen in "More Sinned Against") is killed in a hit-and-run. At the same time, he's starting to investigate an adultery and divorce case: supposedly his last before returning to school. As with any good noir, the two seemly distinct cases are actually related. I'm not going to say much about the plot except that it follows the framework of the genre while putting a new twist on it.

One of the great things about White's writing is how he has imbued Donne with a big heart. That's one of the keys to the success of the Donne stories. We care about Donne and Donne cares about his clients. A lot of the predecessors in the genre are the typical white knight who comes in and does the right thing, but sometimes it feels like they're doing it because it is "the right thing" and not because they actually care about their clients. And while lots of modern authors inflict physical punishment on their characters, White inflicts a lot of emotional punishment. Just when we think Donne can't take any more, White rips Donne's heart clear out of his chest and stomps on it with a size 13 boot covered in dog crap. (You can probably tell the scene I'm talking about if you've read the book).
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By Hector on December 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
WHEN ONE MAN DIES was my first introduction to Jackson Donne, and it proved to be a good one, as after finishing the book, I immediately wanted to move on to the second book.

In many ways, this is a standard P.I novel- In Donne we have a private eye who generally takes more beatings than the ones he hands out, and ends up making as many mistakes as the ones he rights. But a few things elevate it. The first is the story, which while starting a bit slow, begins to ramp up as two cases Donne takes on begin to intertwine together, to the point that the end is as climatic and full of revelations as an ending should be. Then we have the setting itself. Maybe it's because I'm a recent East Coast transplant, but I thought Jersey was a great backdrop, full of bars, bad people, and the shore.

There's a couple of small things which I hope get hashed out as the series continue. The first is the formatting, which as some have pointed out is a bit weird on the kindle. Occasionally a paragraph will include dialogue for multiple characters, and it did caused me to reread some passages over again. I will also admit that it occasionally felt as if I was jumping into the second book of a series, as a lot of characters seemed lived in, and there are mentions to important past events. I now realize there are multiple short stories, which I'll seek out to see if they paint a fuller picture of Donne's world.
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