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and people along the way

Taylor Pensoneau emerged from the Norman Rockwell town of his Illinois youth to become a highly respected newspaper reporter, coal industry executive and well-known author.  He chronicles his journey in Reporting on Life—and people along the way, a memoir released for publication in the spring of 2014.  It is a revealing portrait of an Illinois insider replete with poignancy, humor and heartbreak.

Readers are taken behind the scenes in the Illinois Statehouse pressroom, the Watergate scandal and the writing of Pensoneau’s books.  His titles include two award-winning biographies of Illinois governors, best-selling sagas of downstate Illinois gangsters (including Brothers Notorious—The  Sheltons), and one work of fiction, the suspenseful Summer of ’50.

In reporting on life—and people along the way, the author relates his encounters with the famous and not as famous, and provides a detailed look at those who have greatly impacted his life. The 355 book contains more than 48 photographs.

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Dapper & Deadly: The True Story of Black Charlie Harris

Now from Taylor Pensoneau, the author of Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons, comes the long-awaited inside story of the last of Southern Illinois’ fabled lawbreakers. 

Pensoneau leaves no stone unturned in a complete portrait of the man credited for the downfall of the Sheltons, the legendary gangster brothers from Southern Illinois. And using FBI files, he covers from start to finish the sensational double murder that landed Harris on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" list before his conviction and imprisonment for the crime. Harris rose from an obscure farm boy to a holy terror in a lifetime of crime that made him a fixture in front page news. The chapters of his intriguing life are revealed in a detailed and fast-moving narrative that leaves readers wishing the saga never came to an end. 

(Click on cover to preview Chapter One)

Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons

Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons
is a well-written, thoroughly researched narrative of the rise and fall of the best known gangster brothers to come out of Southern Illinois in its long and colorful history. Carl, Bernie and Big Earl Shelton were household names, central figures in a dark saga that ran beyond a quarter of a century while enveloping Illinois from its humblest nooks to its pinnacle of power. The Sheltons may or may not have been "America's Bloodiest Gang," as The Saturday Evening Post contended in 1950, but it was astounding the way attention riveted on the brothers and their exploits from the Roaring Twenties through the heyday of illegal gambling in the 1940s. When the Sheltons rode highest in downstate Illinois, few would dare to spit on the sidewalks of towns where they held sway, such as East St. Louis and Peoria, without permission from a Shelton.

Like the James boys in the previous century, the Sheltons turned into the stuff of legends and lore. And if some who knew them had it right, the Sheltons displayed a Robin Hood touch here and there. Their reputation got so big that Hollywood once took an abbreviated interest in their deeds.

In Brothers Notorious, Taylor Pensoneau has given readers a long overdue book that traces the Shelton story from its unpretentious beginning in rural Wayne County to the headline-capturing violence at the tale's conclusion. Readers in the Prairie State will find the book informative and entertaining, a resurrection of a dramatic era in their state's history.

(Click on cover to preview Chapter One)

Summer of '50 - Pensoneau's First Fiction Book

As if the summer of 1950 was not hot enough in Illinois, public temperament became feverish as the result of several murders that everyone suspected were linked to thriving, but illegal, gambling in the state. As the weeks unfolded, stakes soared for the folks who loved to roll the dice, the gangsters and a politically ambitious governor.

Jake Brosky, the crack investigative reporter for the St. Louis World and an old hand in dealing with trouble in Illinois, was confident he could sort things out. Answers appeared easy enough at first, but Brosky started to suspicion there was more to the violence than met the eye. In order to get to the bottom of things, the crafty veteran discovered he needed to employ every reportorial trick in his book, and then some.

Brosky had been on the trail of many scandals, but was never involved in a chase with a more surprising conclusion.




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