Colorado, 1919. Photographer Neal Stephens, home from the War, is blackmailed by the sheriff over his secret marriage to black woman in France. When the sheriff is murdered, Neal’s investigation—even as he himself is suspected in the murder—calls up memories of the trenches and his search for his dead wife, as he untangles the connections among the murder, the coalminers’ strike, and his mysterious anarchist father. Part World War I novel and part who-done-it Western with red herrings and femme fatales, The Trench Angel explores issues of the time that are once again important: an increasing concentration of wealth, a generation of young men who feel alienated after their experience at war, a fear of terrorism and confusion over how to respond to it.
"The novel's unfiltered lens reveals war's cost to the human psyche, the amorality of concentrated wealth, the cancer of racial and ethnic hatred, and the nearly unresolvable conflict between familial loyalty and moral responsibility."—Kirkus
"An inherently absorbing and exceptionally well crafted novel from beginning to end, "The Trench Angel" showcases the extraordinary storytelling talents of author Michael Keenan Gutierrez."--Midwest Book Review
"As Cormac McCarthy did with his Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian, Gutierrez is remapping the American West as a realm where easy dichotomies are nowhere to be found."--North Carolina Literary Review
“The Trench Angel is a vivid and engaging novel and it carries a doomed, bloody and wondrous vision of the World War I trenches and the American West in the years after The Great War. It's also a ripping good yarn.” —John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake
“In the Somme Valley a British soldier teaches his fellows to hid cigarette coals inside their mouths. Half a world away, a war-ruined photographer drinks in a bar beneath a Colorado butchery, blood dripping from the floorboards into ashtrays. Gutierrez writes with a metaphorical gift and fine hand of an age of war and upheaval where anarchists, coal barons, Pinkertons, corrupt police, broken idealists, and broken families fight to claim history’s muddied field… Like the best novelists, Gutierrez lifts his flawed and fallen, brilliantly illuminating them so we, too, are bathed in that bright light. The Trench Angel announces a great new talent set to shine for a long time.” —Alexander Parsons, author of Leaving Disneyland
“Breathes new, vivid life into the old wild west.” —Mat Johnson, author of Pym
“Gutierrez’s splendid debut bypasses the archives, whisking us straightaway into the seedy saloons, the twisting back alleys, and the trenches from which it no human being could possibly emerge unscathed. His characters do emerge, nonetheless, on the page, each striking and surprising, crackling with life, wounded yet undaunted. Like Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, this potent, lyrical novel unspools beyond its own time and lands squarely, unforgettably, in our own.” —Tim Horvath, author of Understories.
"The author [Gutierrez] pools these very complex issues and people together into a gripping story. The unraveling plot fills the novel with suspense. Be prepared to become immersed in the life of Neal Stephens as he tries to find himself while dealing with his dysfunctional family."—Historical Novel Society