Entertainment writer Austin Fuller sat down with News-Journal Managing Editor Derek Catron to discuss the publication of his second novel, “Angel Falls,” which comes out this week. In a pre-publication review, the Historical Novel Society said, “This well-written western has suspense in every chapter. … A page-turner that is difficult to put down.”

The book ($25.95 from Five Star Publishing) is a follow up to last year’s “Trail Angel” and is available locally at Barnes & Noble as well as online retailers…(Read the full interview and listen to my Angel Falls Podcast Here.)


By Austin Fuller, November 10, 2017


A classic Western is rare these days.There are books and movies and television shows that spoof Westerns, or meditate on the genre or use it in a modern setting. But rare nowadays are the gunslingers, rowdy saloons and long winters set in a remote place.

“Angel Falls” takes the genre and creates a classic yet refreshing story. Written by Derek Catron, who serves as the managing editor at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the book is a sequel but also a stand-alone take on life in the early days of the West…(READ the rest of the story Here).


By Isa Jones, November 22, 2017


When readers were first introduced to Josey Angel, the marquee character in the 2016 novel “Trail Angel,” he was a taciturn gunslinger in the aftermath of the Civil War, famous for his speedy draw with a rifle or pistol.

That trait remains a defining characteristic in the new “Angel Falls” ($25.95, Five Star, 328 pages), a historical western by Derek Catron that picks up the tale of the title character and the woman he loves, the independent-minded Southern war widow Annabelle Rutledge…(Read the rest of the story Here).


By Jim Abbott, November 16, 2017


About four years ago, Derek Catron was unsure about diving into the whole book-writing thing for real.

The News-Journal managing editor had an idea for a novel. He had a compelling main character. And telling stories to pass the time while traveling in Spain, his wife told him he should write a book.

Catron took her up on it, but not before warning her that she’d become “a book widow.” What followed were seven drafts and two years of weekends spent at the keyboard.

The result, published Aug. 17, was “Trail Angel,” (Five Star Publishing, 357 pages, $25.95 hardback), a novel of the old West. Kirkus Reviews called it “an unsentimental but moving tale, composed with emotional intelligence and historical insight” and “a timeless tale of love and adventure on the American frontier.” … (Read the rest of the story here.)


This feature story appeared in the Daytona Beach News-Journal on Oct. 2, 2016. The story includes the news that a sequel, Angel Falls, is scheduled for next fall.


The Daytona Beach News-Journal called Trail Angel “a fast read with lively writing and a gripping plot.” Here’s the opening of the review:

The Civil War left Annabelle Holcombe a widow, devastated her beloved hometown of Charleston and ruined her family business. She and her parents become swept into a tide of people heading West after the war to find gold and make their fortunes in Montana.

This is the setting for New-Journal Managing Editor Derek Catron’s first novel, “Trail Angel,” released last month. Catron is a good storyteller. This is a fast read with lively writing and a gripping plot.

It’s a fertile time period for a historical novel and love story. The scars of the Civil War lie just beneath the surface as Southerners and Northerners intermingle in the caravan of wagons making the dangerous, months-long trek on the Bozeman Trail. …

Catron artfully describes the characters’ inner worlds and uses colorful writing to set these scenes.

“So many things weren’t the way she imagined them when she lived on a cobblestone street lined with houses, a place where Indians seemed no more real than Amazons or centaurs,” Catron writes of Annabelle. “The world seemed small then. Now she lived in a place where the sky stretched forever, where it seemed she could walk in any direction and never reach an end, where even the most fantastical story sounded more real than the news in the papers at home. Anything could happen.” (Read the full review here.)


More nice feedback, this time from Kirkus Reviews, which called Trail Angel “A timeless tale of love and adventure on the American frontier.”

In the immediate wake of the Civil War, a family heads to Montana in search of gold.
Annabelle loses her husband in the Civil War, and all her brothers die fighting for the Confederate side as well. Federal tax collectors ravage her considerable inheritance, and she decides to leave Charleston, South Carolina, for Montana with her family to start a new life. Her clan is led to Montana by a former Union colonel and Josey Angel, a Union soldier infamous for his proficiency in killing his adversaries. The colonel decides to lead the wagon train along the Bozeman Trail, a passage that counts as a shortcut, but remains notoriously dangerous. They risk encountering deadly snakes, hostile Native Americans, and vicious bandits–Josey’s primary task is to keep the group safe. At first, Annabelle is intimidated by his dark reputation and aloofness, but is overwhelmed by curiosity; there seems to be more to this man than a knack for violence. He can be not only gentlemanly, but thoughtful as well, and is clearly burdened by the memories of savage conflict, of things seen and done. Debut novelist and career journalist Catron poignantly captures Josey’s wounded soul that resists a full plunge into cynicism: “Josey never much questioned the morality of the killing because he never expected to outlive the war. The way he saw things, a number needed to die before both sides lost their taste for it.” Annabelle is haunted by her own loss, and gradually she and Josey develop a bond that flirts with romance. And Josey’s skills as a soldier are sure to be tested soon–a band of mysterious horsemen furtively tracks the group, promising an imminent confrontation. The story takes place in 1866, barely a year after the end of the Civil War, and the resentment that remains is palpable. Annabelle is bitterly unforgiving of the sacrifice of her husband and brothers, and at the destruction caused by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s ferocious march through the South. Affectingly written, the bond between Annabelle and Josey is a first gesture toward forgiveness, and a hopeful sign of the possible reconciliation of the two battle-weary halves of the nation. This is an unsentimental but moving tale, composed with emotional intelligence and historical insight.
A timeless tale of love and adventure on the American frontier.


The first review for “Trail Angel” comes from Booklist, and I don’t think I could be happier with it. Booklist is one of four trade magazines that do pre-publication reviews for libraries, bookstores and others looking for guidance in what titles they order. The reviews are necessarily short, but I thought the reviewer included a great plot synopsis. Here’s the full review:

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof Booklist Online Exclusive: July 21, 2016
Trail Angel. Catron, Derek (Author) Aug 2016. 358 p. Five Star, hardcover, $25.95. (9781432832803).

Drink in this opening sentence: “From the banks of the flat, broad river, Annabelle Rutledge Holcombe looked east toward everything she had known.” Who is Annabelle? She’s a Civil War widow who’s staking everything—her life, her family’s lives—on a dangerous journey to Montana and the slim prospect of finding prosperity in the gold fields. She’s guided on her trek by Josey Angel, an ex-cavalryman whose past is littered with dead bodies and caked in blood. Each sees in the other a way to start looking forward and to stop dwelling on the past. Catron uses a real historical event as his backdrop (the story is set during the run-up to the violent war between the U.S. and the Sioux), and he throws in some immediate danger in the form of some nasties who are following Annabelle’s wagon train. Beyond that, though, this is a story of two lost people who find each other and a way to keep on living. A finely constructed, well-told western.
— David Pitt

Don’t forget: You can order Trail Angel and Angel Falls at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Use these links:

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