Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not Even Past by, Dave White

When Jackson Donne saw the eight-year-old picture of himself, he thought the email was the weirdest form of spam he'd ever gotten.

With that sentence, Dave White's New Brunswick based private eye returns to print.  Not Even Past is White's first book in 4 years and the first to feature Jackson Donne in nearly 7.  It doesn't seem that long as White seamlessly brings us back into Donne's life.  In my review of When One Man Dies, I said "White rips Donne’s heart clear out of his chest and stomps on it with a size 13 boot covered in dog crap.". After this book, Donne must wish it was only dog crap.

Three years have passed since we last saw Donne.  He's closed up his private investigator's shop, returned to school, and gotten engaged to a woman named Kate Ellison.  In fact, he's about to graduate and his wedding with Kate is only a couple months away when the mysterious email arrives.  Donne clicks the link and sees a video of his former fiancee Jeanne Baker, who supposedly died in a car crash six years ago, very much alive and in peril. Donne believes the video is real and the only person he can turn to to save Jeanne is his old nemesis Bill Martin.  What starts out as a search for his long-thought-dead former flame eventually pulls Donne into the corrupt world of New Jersey politics.

The book is divided into three sections, each taking its name from a recent local slogan.  "Jersey Comeback" was the tagline for Governor Chris Christie's economic program, while "Restore the Shore" and "Stronger Than The Storm" were rallying cries after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.  Each could also be applied to the trials Donne goes through in the sections.  The first and third blow through at a breakneck pace, while the middle section gives the characters a little time to breathe.

As always, White has a good grasp of place. Donne moves around New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, and several other locations, and each time the reader feels he or she is really there.  His characters feel like people you'd want to hang out with at a diner at 3am (or in some cases, avoid at 3am).

Toward the last couple chapters of the book, I had a feeling of where White would leave Donne at the end of it and started cursing him for making me have to wait to the next novel for more Donne.

The whole series is Highly Recommended.

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