Daniel has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school.He has published stories and articles in such magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals, Spindrift, Zygote in my Coffee, and Leading Edge Science Fiction. He has written four books: The Sage and the Scarecrow (a novel), the Lexical Funk (a short story collection), Reejecttion (short story/ essay collection), and The Ghosts of Nagasaki (a novel).
Trench Angel is a novel of early 1900s mayhem and upheaval -- a lone war photographer struggling with the memories of his past, a twisted family history, and a landscape of hardnosed Pinkerton detectives, class warfare, anarchists, and death.
The author has a clear talent for using historical details and recreating the mood of the early 1900s. We get each scene in a clear and engaging style. The sentences were beautifully written and a pleasure to read. The tone of the book is at times hard-boiled, at times romantic, and at times tongue-in-cheek black comedy. For the most part, these varying tones work to create an entertaining period piece. Though, occasionally, the varying tones don't always balance.
There are two main stories going on at once: one that takes place in the post-WWI period when the main character has returned from abroad and must unwind a tangled knot of family history, personal failures, labor tension, and a murder mystery; and a second one that takes place in the past that involves a love story set in the early days of the WWI.
For me, my heart was set in the WWI story. That story was simpler and more beautiful. However, it also had much more unexplored territory. Unfortunately, this story comprises much less of the book than I hoped. It's entirely possible that they are two separate stories that could have been told in two separate novels.
At times, too, I struggled to understand the protagonist's motivation. Since he is in a state of depression and alcoholism when we meet him after WWI, it's hard to know exactly what his internal motivation is (other than to get another drink). If I read the book a second time, I might pick up on this more.
One last note about this book. I was able to finish it in a few days on top of a busy schedule. Thus, in addition to being a solidly written work of fiction, it was also highly engaging.