Al and Sandra

Al Pennyback Mystery Series

The Characters in this series

Albert Einstein ‘Al’ Pennyback was born in 1951 in a small East Texas town north of Houston.  His father, Hiram, was a schoolteacher who was a World War II veteran; a tanker in an all-black tank unit.  His mother, Rachael, a housewife, was a pacifist.  She was also a great fan of the scientist Albert Einstein, thus his name.  Because of the name, he learned at an early age to use his fists and his wits.  Upon graduation from high school in 1968, instead of going to college as his mother wanted, Al joined the army.  During the early years of his military service his parents were swept away in a hurricane that struck the Galveston coast, where they were visiting a relative’s beach cottage.

Al devoted himself to his army duties; rising fast through the ranks to sergeant major, and in 1980 received a battlefield promotion to captain in combat in an unnamed country in one of America’s secret wars.  In 1981, while on duty in the the Philippines, he met and married his wife Sarah, the daughter of a Philippine army general.  Their son Ethan was born the following year.

In 1987, Al, who by now was a lieutenant colonel in charge of a special operations team, was sent on a mission to capture or kill a clan leader in Somalia who had slaughtered foreign aid workers, including two Americans, because of faulty intelligence, Al’s team ended up killing the man and his entire family.  Feeling guilty and disgusted, Al left special operations and swore never to use a gun again.

He was reassigned to duty in the Pentagon.  In 1988, Sarah and Ethan were killed in an auto accident.  Distraught, Al retired from the army, but his friend Quincy Chang, a former JAG officer now partner in a DC law firm, talks him into becoming a private detective, and has his firm put him on retainer.  He hires Heather Bunche, a new secretarial school graduate to help him do paperwork and keep track of cases.

The series starts in 1998, ten years after he becomes a PI, with the investigation of the murder of a high school student (Color Me Dead).  During the investigation, Al meets and eventually falls in love with Sandra Winter, a teacher at Cabot High School, a mostly minority school in DC’s northeast area.

One of his best friends is Buster Mayweather, a DC police detective, who is the person who notified him of his family’s death.  Buster is occasionally pulled into Al’s cases, often over the objections of his wife Alma.  The Mayweathers have two children, twins, named Albert and Sandra, and Al and Sandra are the god parents.

A recurring character who appeared in the first story and crops up occasionally is Lucinda 'Lucy' Garcia Mendez, a reporter for the Washington Post, who often writes about Al's exploits, and has dubbed him the 'Brown Knight.'

In the first book of the series, mention is made of Al retiring from the army as a captain.  But, as the series progressed, it seemed to make sense that he would have risen higher, so in Dead Men Don’t Answer, which is due for release in December 2012, he’s made a lieutenant colonel, and the discrepancy in the grades is explained – the army bureaucracy pulled a boner and retired him at the rank that he’d won a battlefield promotion to, but over ten years later discover their error and make the correction, with the resultant windfall check for the back pay.

Al is six feet tall, weighs just under two hundred pounds, and is proficient in a number of martial arts.  He jogs regularly and meditates every day.  He’s reached an age, though, where he has to watch his weight.  He likes to cook, but often just stops at the nearest fast food place and pigs out.  When he and Sandra eat out, their favorite is Korean, and occasionally Thai or Chinese.

Books in this series

Color Me Dead:  Kindle  Paperback
Memorial to the Dead: Kindle  Paperback
Deadline:  Kindle  Paperback
Dead, White, and Blue:  Kindle  Paperback
The Day the Music Died:  Kindle  Paperback
If I Should Die Before I Wake:  Kindle  Paperback
Die, Sinner:  Kindle  Paperback
Death by Design:  Kindle  Paperback
Deadly Intentions:  Kindle  Paperback
Till Death Do Us Part:  Kindle  Paperback
Deadly Dose:  Kindle  Paperback
Dead Men Don’t Answer:  In progress, due out December 2012

Art work related to the series

I occasionally do pen and ink or watercolor sketches to jog my mind about a particular story.  Here is one of them; another is shown at the head of the entry along with a few of the covers:

Al and the ladies, from l to r, Lucy Mendez, Heather
Bunche, and Sandra Winter.

My other Books

In addition to the Al Pennyback mystery series, I do the following series:

Buffalo Soldier
The Chronicle of Pip of Pandara
Wallace in Underland

From time to time, I'll post stuff relating to one of these series here.  Video trailer for Buffalo Soldier: Peacekeepers

My best-selling book is a fictionalized account of famous deputy US Marshal, Bass Reeves.

And, I started a new mystery series, cozy mysteries set in a retirement community. As of Jan. 6, 2017, I've
done three in this series.