Al Pennyback learns that a cousin he hardly knew has died and left him property in his will. The problem is, he has to go to Houston, Texas, near where he grew up, to settle the matter. Along with the trauma of going back to a place he swore he'd never return to, he has to deal with the dead man's two greedy sons who want the property. As if he didn't have enough troubles, a beautiful young woman asks for his help to prove that her sister's drug overdose death was actually murder. Al finds himself up to his neck in Texas politics, with the rich and connected pitted against the working class.
Charles gives an overview of the book:
She was the kind of woman you couldn’t help noticing.
An oval face, with a smooth complexion the color of freshly brewed coffee, deep and dark, and inviting; slightly slanted eyes, betraying a mixed-race heritage, Asian or Native American – the high cheekbones made me think probably the latter – light brown, with golden flecks, and long lashes that fluttered when she blinked; her hair, frizzy curls that framed her face well, was black, with the reddish tints that probably came from having applied a hot come to it to straighten it now and then; breasts that strained against the white blouse she wore buttoned up to her long neck; a narrow waist that flared out into wide hips; long, dark brown legs, a little thick in the thigh, but slim in the calf, and a lot of her thighs were visible beneath the short blue skirt that hugged her hips.
Yes, she was the kind of woman a man would look at twice, and she was standing in my motel room. If I wasn’t already in a committed relationship, and the motel room was somewhere else, I would certainly given her a second and third look.
My name is Al Pennyback, actually Albert Einstein Pennyback; thanks to an old fashioned southern mother who followed the custom of our social class at the time I was born and named me after someone she admired. By the time I graduated from high school, and had attained my full growth, no one but my mother would dare call me anything but Al though. It had taken a lot of fights, beginning in first grade, for me to get that situation to apply, but, I’d become handy with my fists, and my full growth was six feet and just a few ounces shy of two hundred pounds. My mother and father had been washed away in a hurricane that hit Galveston when I was a young man; their bodies, along with the aunt they’d been visiting, had never been recovered.
I joined the army right out of high school, and thanks to high test scores and night school, had been sent to Officer Candidate School and commissioned my third year in uniform, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel; not bad for a country boy from a small town in East Texas. I hung up my uniform when my wife, Sara, and my son Ethan, were killed in an auto accident. Thanks to an army buddy, Quincy Chang, a JAG officer I’d served with when I was in a Special Forces unit in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who had left the army to make more money as a civilian lawyer, I’d become a private detective. My office is in Washington, DC, in what was once one of the poorest parts of the city, but is now becoming gentrified; all, that is, except the rundown building where I rent space, just off Fourth Street, not far from the army’s Fort McNair, and if it wasn’t for all the high-rise condos surrounding it, would give a good view of the ship channel and the Potomac River. Pennyback, Confidential Enquires, is a two-man operation. Well, one man and a woman. My assistant is Heather Bunche. I hired her right out of secretarial school when I needed someone to keep track of the paperwork – something I’ve never liked or been good at – and, she needed a job. Our arrangement, more than ten years old now, became more of a partnership and friendship than an employer-employee relationship, and I count her as one of my very few friends.
I gave up our little brownstone house in Georgetown; too many memories; and bought an old farm at an estate auction out in Montgomery County, Maryland, just off River Road. For a long time, I lived there alone.
A native of East Texas, I have been involved in leading organizations (particularly those in trouble) for over 40 years. I have written a number of articles on history, culture and leadership, and have written three books on leadership in addition to my fiction works. The Al...
kudos to Charlie for his terrific book "Things I Learned from my Grandmother about Leadership and Life ." I gobbled it up and it would be wonderful reading for whatever incarnation of leadership training...
Things I Learned From My Grandmother About Leadership and Life is a small book that makes a great impact. Charles Ray, the author blends his fond memories of his grandmother with his dual career as a...