OTTO WHEELER IS not from Georgia, but he once heard a story about a scorned woman in Buckhead going through a divorce who broke into her former home where her ex-husband and his new wife were living and rearranged all of the furniture. It provided the inspiration he needed to pen his second book, “Charitable Injustice.” A retired certified public accountant living in Austin, Texas, Wheeler’s visits to Atlanta contributed to the setting of his book. “I live in Austin and I don’t like to write about Austin. I find it boring not to get outside of Travis County, Texas,” he says. And so he decided to submerge himself into the lifestyle of Buckhead, where old money and big mansions set the stage.
It was a lifelong dream of Wheeler’s to write fiction. He began working on a potential novel in 1985 but it wasn’t until retirement that he had the time to complete it. His first novel, “The Greatest Game Ever Played… Maybe,” took a play-by-play of the 1958 Baltimore Colts and New York Giants game from the perspective of the announcers and the officials.
But “Charitable Injustice” is Wheeler’s real work of fiction. “I took inspiration from the lady who went back to her former home, rearranged the furniture and got thrown in jail. My story is a mix of ‘My Fair Lady’ that turns into ‘Fatal Attraction,’” he says. Although he promises he’s not giving anything away. “A lot of things take place between A and Z you won’t expect. There is intrigue but this is not a mystery. It’s a divergent plot that can be followed. I don’t push you out in a corner and bring you back four chapters in.”
I found this to be an accurate description as I dove into Wheeler’s book about Atlanta philanthropist Anne Wentworth, who takes in a distressed young woman named Lynn. Covered in wild and unruly red hair, Lynn has escaped an abusive home in Alabama and found herself on Anne’s doorway. Anne decides to take her under her wing, investing much of her time and a whole lot of money on making her over, helping her find work and getting her established. Admittedly, Wheeler’s book often reads like an early author — sometimes a bit too descriptive in some areas and glossing too quickly over descriptions in others. Still, it is as he describes: Intriguing and easy to follow. Enjoying the novel while on the beach for the 4th of July weekend, I found it a page-turner and completed it in a day. Could it be predictable? Sometimes. But that didn’t take the fun out of reading it.
Wheeler hopes people like it but was so sure I would he promised me my money back if I didn’t. He’s already at work on his third novel, as well. This one will be set in West Texas and focus on a family of cattle ranchers who find oil on their land – and all the trouble that comes with money.
“I’m a storyteller,” he says. “I have heard that people who start to read ‘Charitable Injustice’ can’t put it down. This isn’t Hemingway. I don’t profess to be a literary person. But I tell good stories.”
That he does.
“Charitable Injustice” can be purchased on Amazon.com in paperback ($15.99) or Kindle.