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The Trench Angel by Michael Keenan Gutierrez
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The Trench Angel

by Michael Keenan Gutierrez

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This is a hard hitting, gritty novel. The characters have very distinct voices accentuated with vernacular appropriate to the period and setting of the novel. It has plenty of action, yet is also very thought provoking. Neal Stephens was a photographer during the first years of the Great War. He recorded the faces of the soldiers who were about to go over the top into no-mans land. Most would not return. Though he never picked up a weapon, he suffered the same privations as those who did. He endured the constant shelling, the rats, the vermin, the sleeplessness, the bad food, the trench rot that took one of his toes, the ever present mud and filth, and the death of his comrades whose images were captured forever by his camera. In this crazy time he met and fell in love with a Negro woman, who had fled the prejudices of the United States in order to create a new life for herself in Paris. He wed her, but soon lost her to an errant shell fired from a German gun miles away. Neal returned to the U. S., but found the people of 1919 Colorado no more forgiving than the guns of the enemy. He lied to his friends about his marriage, saying the wife he lost was a beautiful blonde woman. The only thing he could cling to was his ability to take pictures. Neal finds the situation in the coal town he calls home is no better than before the war, possibly worse. The miners are about to go on strike for better wages and living conditions, while the mine owner, Neal’s uncle, has called in the Pinkerton's to break the strike no matter what the cost. Neal’s father, who deserted his family years ago, is a ruthless anarchist willing to tear down the establishment regardless of the cost to life or limb. Neal is torn between the two sides of the battle for the town, while he tries to drown in booze, his guilt not only over losing his wife, but of being afraid to admit his love for her and who she was. ( )
  Ronrose1 | Dec 15, 2015 |
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"Colorado, 1919. Photographer Neal Stephens, home from the war, is blackmailed by the sheriff over his secret marriage to a black woman in France. When the sheriff is murdered and both Neal and his sister are named suspects, Neal's own investigation calls up memories of the trenches and his long search across war-ravaged France for his dead wife, as he untangles the connections among the murder, the coalminers' strike, and his mysterious anarchist father"--Publisher description.… (more)

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