Jackson Donne

Created by Dave White

JACKSON DONNE knows a few things about chances. The New Jersey eye’s had several. Once upon a time, he was a narcotics cop. That came in handy, since he was also a narcotics user. That came crashing down, leaving Donne on the outs with the police.

When we meet him in 2000’s “God Bless the Child,” he’s mourning the loss of Jeanne, the woman who turned his life around and cleaned him up. He’s got a problem with the bottle now, but manages it nicely — or at least thinks he does. His biggest problem, though, is that he doesn’t know what to do with his life. The instincts that made him a cop to begin with are still in full force. He turns on a client who lies about abusing a child (“God Bless the Child”), goes to bat for a drinking buddy facing eviction (“More Sinned Against”), watches in horror as the events of 9/11 claim two lives after the fact (“Closure”), and finds out he’s not the only one with a past that won’t leave him alone (“Get Miles Away”).

Set in New Brunswick, NJ, near Rutgers University, Donne is a small town eye with an urban feel. The setting is made all the more real by creator David White, Rutgers grad and New Brunswick resident. White began the series while working on a thesis, a novel called Borrowed Trouble, which he has since stripped apart to create his short stories. A solid series that has evolved into evolved into a series of equally powerful novels, Jackson Donne will be around for a long time to come.


The third Jackson Donne story, “Closure,” originally published printed right here, won the Derringer Award for Best Short Story of 2002, making Dave among the youngest winners of the Derringer Award.

More recently, Dave created another private eye, Matt Herrick, but in July 2006, it was announced that Dave had signed a two-book deal with Three Rivers Press. The first official Jackson Donne novel, When One Man Dies was published in 2007, and received an almost obscene amount of blurb action, and both it and its sequel, The Evil That Men Do (2008) have been nominated for Shamus Awards. Since then, there’ve been several other novels, and White has also contributed several short stories to various anthologies and collections, including The Adventure of the Missing Detective and Damn Near Dead.  In 20111, More Sinned Against, an ebook collection of his Donne stories, was released.

Dave currently lives in New Jersey, where he masquerades as a mild-mannered middle-school English teacher.


  • “Derringer Award–winner White’s engrossing, evocative debut novel will grab most readers from its opening sentences…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.”
    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “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..”
    — James Crumley
  • “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…White manages the neat trick of respecting the genre’s traditions while daring to nudge it toward something new and unexpected… Lots of promise here — in Donne and White. I’m rooting for both of them.”
    — Laura Lippman
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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
  • 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




  • More Sinned Against (2011) Kindle it!
    Collects the first seven stories and an intro by Ray Banks.



  • April 1, 2023
     Heartache spoken here. More than most, this Jersey eye has the right to sing the blues. Come back, Jackson. We’ve missed you.
Respectfully submitted by James R. Winter. Additional nitpicking and commentary by Kevin Burton Smith.

One thought on “Jackson Donne

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and photographing, Dave White at a few Noir At The Bars. I also worked in New Brunswick for almost 10 years, so I’d trodden those streets. I’ve yet to read this series but will rectify that this winter.

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