Road to Reckoning by Harper Collins Borough Press in the UK and Simon & Schuster Touchstone in the US. Publication Jan/Feb 2014.

With a spare elegance reminiscent of early novels of Cormac McCarthy, Road to Reckoning is a Literary Western that entertains while exploring life lessons about duty, death, loyalty, and trust.  With the most compelling of plots and driven by unforgettable characters, Road to Reckoning merits comparison to recent publishing and cinema hits – think of it as COLD MOUNTAIN meets TRUE GRIT as if remade by the Coen Brothers, or OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU meets THE SISTERS BROTHERS.
The story is narrated by Thomas Walker of New York City as he looks back on his first journey away from home across 1830s Pennsylvania at the age of twelve, events which are to change his life forever.  His father, a travelling spectacle salesman who has decided to earn extra money by selling an “Improved Revolving Gun” recently invented by Samuel Colt, takes young Thomas with him on the road west.  But even the possession of the world’s first true revolver cannot save them from danger; and what starts as an adventure and a precious chance for Thomas to spend time alone with his father soon turns into a nightmare.  For Thomas to have any hope of returning home, he must rely on his own wits, courage, and determination, as well as a wooden replica of a gun and the help of a surly ex-ranger, Henry Stands.
At the heart of this novel is the relationship between two unwilling companions, and the seemingly effortless ease with which it plays out in Robert Lautner’s hands.  It’s about the world’s first true revolver, and it’s about a moment of transition in a nation and in a boy’s life.  Yet on a more universal level, Road to Reckoning is about fatherhood and son-ship and the need we have for it.  It’s immersive, and thrilling – but it’s also deeply moving and genuinely affecting.

‘It’s a thrilling, violent, dangerous piece of old-fashioned storytelling that is also humane and unshowily moving’ THE TIMES

‘Has a very real chance of becoming a cult classic’ SIMON WINCHESTER, author of Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

‘A twisty, gripping first novel from British author Lautner…a robust debut that wears its meticulous research lightly’ KIRKUS REVIEWS

"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."
– Simon Winchester, author of The Men Who United the States and The Professor and the Madman

"Robert Lautner has written a compelling, poetic page-turner that really impresses with its precision and heart. . . . In Thomas Walker and Henry Stands he has created characters who live in the memory long after the book is closed. In their relationship I read hope, and honor: a boy seeking his father and a man finding the father within him."– Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English

"Not a single needless word in Road to Reckoning, a beautiful gem of a novel, exquisitely written and swiftly plotted. Featuring an unforgettable character on a hero's journey, it packs an old-fashioned emotional wallop."– Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House

"Road to Reckoning is a rare feat of storytelling. Robert Lautner has created something truly wonderful in the character 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."– Silas House, author of A Parchment of Leaves and Clay's Quilt

"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."– Michael Korda, author of Hero

Robert Lautner can be contacted at:


  1. I picked this book up at the library the other day. I just assumed that the story would take place in the American west. I was surprised when Thomas didn't make it further west than Lewisburg. The early history portrayal of these towns in central and northeast Pennsylvania is very interesting. I grew up in the area in Williamsport. I look forward to finishing the book.

  2. Robert, I really enjoyed this book. I read it over the course of a day or so and have gone back and reread parts of it since. Reminds me of one of my favorite books, True Grit. I look forward to reading more of your stuff. If you have published any short stories or other works, let us know on your website. Thanks, Tom K

  3. I am enjoying this book so much. Incredibly beautiful and elegant writing. Look forward to more. Thanks