Archive for September, 2011

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Eli and Charlie Sisters are notorious hired killers, working out of Oregon City for a man known as the Commodore in the 1850s. They are dispatched to California to kill a man named Hermann Warm. Eli, the narrator, dissatisfied with his new horse and disgruntled over Charlie’s role as “lead man” on the mission, begins to question not only their task, about which he knows little, but about the violent life he is leading. He envies the placid life of a storekeeper, and falls in love repeatedly. On their journey south they encounter a variety of odd characters and savage conflicts that increase Eli’s discomfort, without shaking his unwavering loyalty to his brother. As they near their goal and learn more about the reason for their assignment, even Charlie begins to waver, leading to an unexpected and ultimately poignant climax.

I do not read many Western novels, but this one caught my attention and grabbed me with the first paragraph. The language, the characters, the humor and the tall tale itself kept me fascinated from beginning to end. This is Patrick deWitt’s second novel; I will now have to find his first, Ablutions: Notes for a Novel. DeWitt is a seriously talented writer.