1944, Germany. Ernst Beck’s new job marks an end to months of unemployment. Working for Erfurt’s most prestigious engineering firm, Topf & Sons, means he can finally make a contribution to the war effort, provide for his beautiful wife, Etta, and make his parents proud. But there is a price.
Ernst is assigned to the firm’s smallest team – the Special Ovens Department. Reporting directly to Berlin his role is to annotate plans for new crematoria that are deliberately designed to burn day and night. Their destination: the concentration camps. Topf’s new client: the SS.
As the true nature of his work dawns on him, Ernst has a terrible choice to make: turning a blind eye will keep him and Etta safe, but that’s little comfort if staying silent amounts to collusion in the death of thousands.
This bold and uncompromising work of literary fiction shines a light on the complex contradictions of human nature and examines how deeply complicit we can become in the face of fear.
About the author
Robert Lautner was born in Middlesex in 1970. Before becoming a writer he owned his own comic-book store, worked as a wine merchant, photographic consultant and recruitment consultant. He now lives on the Pembrokeshire coast in a wooden cabin with his wife and children.
Praise for THE DRAUGHTSMAN:
‘Absolutely exceptional. So beautifully written, with precision and wisdom and real emotional acuity. The horrors are illuminated and rendered on a human scale by Lautner’s wonderfully gripping narrative, drawing me in to the intimate story of Ernst and Etta, and their very affecting portrayal as individuals caught up in larger events. With outrage and tenderness he describes a moment in time most of us would say we knew too much about already – and sheds new light on it. A remarkable achievement.’ Stephen Kelman, author of PIGEON ENGLISH
‘Gripping from beginning to end, The Draughtsman is a highly accomplished second novel … one of The Draughtsman’s greatest strengths is in offering a human side to the instigators of oppression and suffering, making each character even more complex and fascinating to pore over … Lautner skilfully links history with the present, and offers a beautifully written, painful reminder that history is often bound to repeat itself’ IRISH INDEPENDENT
Praise for THE ROAD TO RECKONING:
‘It’s a thrilling, violent, dangerous piece of old-fashioned storytelling that is also humane and unshowily moving’ THE TIMES
‘A compelling read: wise, touching and with just the right amount of gun fights’
NATHAN FILER, author of The Shock of the Fall
‘As simply told tales go, this is one of the best. It shares with its hero a plain eloquence and a determination and a grace rare in the world and in books. Give The Road to Reckoning to every man you know and they’ll thank you for it’ JOSHUA FERRIS, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
‘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 Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories