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Road to reckoning
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When his traveling salesman father is murdered in 19th-century Pennsylvania, spirited 12-year-old Thomas forges an unlikely partnership with surly ex-ranger, Henry, who embarks on a perilous quest for vengeance that is challenged by dangerous thieves. - (Baker & Taylor)

When his traveling salesman father is murdered in nineteenth-century Pennsylvania, spirited twelve-year-old Thomas Walker forges an unlikely partnership with surly ex-ranger Henry Stands, who embarks on a perilous quest for vengeance. - (Baker & Taylor)

One does not travel the path to vengeance alone

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.

Thomas soon finds himself alone, and 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—and who have already stolen so much from Thomas.

In the spirit of The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, this spare, elegant, and emotionally resonant story conveys, through a boy’s eyes, a beautiful father-son story, 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. - (Simon and Schuster)

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Booklist Reviews

The year is 1837, when 12-year-old Thomas and his widower father head west, planning to sell the newly invented Colt "Improved Revolving Gun" on commission. They get no farther than Pennsylvania, however, before they are ambushed and the father killed, leaving Thomas an orphan. That's when he meets Henry Stands, a former Indiana Ranger, who reluctantly takes him under his wing. "He had a great belly," Thomas says of Stands, "and broad limbs that looked like they could carry anything he cared to." Stands is larger than life in his intimidating presence, too, a good man to have at your back when you're 12, your father's murderers may be on your trail, and home is your desire and destination. But evil men are crafty; home is far away; and Thomas' troubles have only begun. Lautner's is a tale of guns and grit that will remind most readers of Charles Portis' modern classic True Grit, with Henry Stands a stand-in for Rooster Cogburn. None of this is to discount the frontier charm of Road to Reckoning or the appealing voice of its protagonist, Thomas, a worthy successor to Mattie Ross. For a great double feature, read both books. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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