Dave White on BLIND TO SIN
The Jackson Donne series has come a long way. From its early days, where Donne was the typical hard drinking private investigator until the end of the last book An Empty Hell, where he became a convicted felon, some of the journey has been surprising to me and some of it has been planned.
But with the latest novel, Blind to Sin, the important beats were always there.
The guiding theme to An Empty Hell was the Bruce Springsteen song, “It’s Hard to be a Saint in theCity.” In the book, Donne—and his sometimes colleague Matt Herrick—really struggle through a lot of violence to try and remain good people. They try to be saints.
But when it came time to write Blind to Sin, I was caught by a quote. When Dennis Lehane took a break from writing the Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro novels, he said something like (and I’m paraphrasing here), “If I kept writing these characters, kept pushing them, they’d become psychopaths.”
But I wasn’t ready to take a break from Donne, like Lehane with Patrick and Angie. Instead, I wanted to push Donne. And see if he would break.
Here is where I had my nugget for Donne—that moment of inspiration. He’s content to be in prison. In jail, he’s paying penance for all the trouble he’s caused other people. So, what happens if he’s sprung early by some pretty evil people?
What does Donne do next?
Ultimately, all the books in the series put Donne through the grinder. It’s the kind of book I love to read, a character on the worst days of their lives. You see that character being resilient or breaking down completely. Either way, it’s usually compelling.
The inspiration for this book asks came from that idea. What will a man just released from prison—essentially poor and homeless and faced with a deadly moral decision do? I love heist novels, so I put Donne in the middle of a heist and in the middle of a family drama as well. Everything is pulling at him until he only sees two ways out.
And he has to choose.
I wanted to find out if Donne would become the psychopath Lehane refers to or be the hero readers of private investigator novels expect.
The entire book came out of that conundrum, and I have to say, I was surprised at the answer.
BLIND TO SIN by Dave White
is available now in trade paperback and ebook