With taut prose and a swift plot, this literary crime novel set in 1800s Pennsylvania captures the unlikely friendship between a spirited young boy and a gruff ex-ranger on a shared quest for vengeance.
Twelve-year-old Thomas Walker has never left New York City. His father, a traveling salesman hoping to earn money by selling Samuel Colt’s recent invention, the “Improved Revolving Gun,” takes young Thomas with him on the road. But even the world’s first true revolver cannot save them from danger, and what starts as an adventure soon turns into a nightmare.
When his father is murdered, Thomas must rely on his own wits, courage, and determination, as well as a wooden replica of the Colt revolver, to protect himself. Luckily, an encounter with a surly ex-ranger, Henry Stands, leads to an improbable partnership, and the two set out in perilous pursuit of vengeance—that is, if they can escape the thieves who lurk around each trail, river, and road.
In the spirit of The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, this spare, elegant, and emotionally resonant story conveys, through a boy’s eyes, the pain of losing a father as well as the fascinating history of how the birth of the revolver changed the course of violence in America. Road to Reckoning offers a window into the history of the American West and the heart of a boy yearning for love.
"Road to Reckoning is a rare feat of storytelling. Robert Lautner has created something truly wonderful in the caracter of Thomas Walker—whose steady, strong voice I won't soon forget—and the vivid world he inhabits. This is a literary thriller in the best sense, simultaneously gritty and tender, rousing and lyrical."
"Not a single needless word in Road to Reckoning, a beautiful gem of a novel, exquisitely written and swiftly plotted. Set against a fascinating American landscape, with a heartbreakingly unforgettable character on a hero's journey---it packs an old-fashioned emotional wallop."
"This quiet triumph of a novel, a sad and impeccably nuanced tale set against a finely drawn landscape of early pioneer America, left me just amazed and delighted; it will surely establish Robert Lautner as a storyteller of the first order."
“Remarkable … A novel about a young man reaching for manhood after the killing of his father and about the invention and selling of Col. Samuel Colt's revolving pistol, and the way it changed the West. Those who love True Grit will love this."