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The Sisters Brothers

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  43,755 ratings  ·  5,615 reviews
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Orego
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Ecco (first published 2011)
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Mike Grant That doesn't sound too bad to me, but then I guess everyone has their own idea of how characters look.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern1Q84 by Haruki MurakamiThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittThe Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison AllenThe American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Best Cover Art 2011 (Non-YA)
3rd out of 277 books — 1,592 voters
The Art of Fielding by Chad HarbachThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittThe Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
2012 Tournament of Books
2nd out of 16 books — 268 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This book has the coolest cover ever. What’s great, though, is that the coolness doesn’t end there.

Charlie and Eli sisters are Gold Rush–era contract killers. They’re hired for what Eli hopes to be their last job, as he’d much prefer to hang his holster and settle down with a nice girl—or failing that, the first trollop that crosses his path. It makes no difference to him, really (dude is such a sweetheart). Charlie, on the other hand, is the less sensitive one. It’d be tougher to convince him t
I wanted to love this book. It jumped off of my pile of shortlisted Booker Prize nominees and demanded to be read first. Everything about it shouted "Yes, it's literature, but IT's FUN." The premise is that of a classic picaresque novel -- Charlie and Eli Sisters, two professional assassins in 1850 are sent by their employer to hunt down and kill Herman Kermit Warm who may, or may not, have stolen something. In the course of their journey from Oregon to California, at the height of the gold rush ...more
Dan 1.0
When the Commodore orders the Sisters brothers to kill Herman Kermit Warm and take his mysterious formula, they have no idea the series of misadventures they will endure in the undertaking.

I've been interested in this book forever and nabbed it on the cheap when it popped up on one of my ebook newsletter things. It may have been that my expectations were too high but this didn't live up to the hype for me.

I liked the characters of Eli and Charlie Sister, natural born killers in the old west. The
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Nov 23, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hooked by the title and cover
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: michael edwards
What the....really not sure what I just read. Yippie-yi-yo-kaye?
Like the *cover it's edgy, aptly tagged as 'cowboy noir'. Avoid it if you’re looking for a traditional western, no white hats, no riding happily off into the sunset. Same thing if you look for nice characters to bond with. A couple of hired guns Eli and brother Charlie Sisters aren’t particularly likeable unless you have a soft spot for psychopaths, Eli’s border-line and brother Charlie full-blown. Hey, they had a tough childhood.

Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This ho-hum review of a ho-hum book got tricked up a bit and stuffed in a corner at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Oh, and if for some odd reason you have an opinion about my moving reviews off Goodreads, do feel free to keep it to yourself.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
I am so not the target audience for this story.
I mean it’s a western.
Still the cover art kept pulling at me

It’s the 1850’s, gold rush, California
And the Sisters Brothers are two killers for hire,
on the trail; on a job.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it, from the get go.

Charlie Sisters has the lead here, but it is Eli that will take you there.
And tell you all about his horse, poor Tub, and the women he meets along the way.
How he feels; what he wants; how he sees things, love and some alarmingly, g
Oct 11, 2013 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: blog
I like reading about bad people in fiction. And, lest we jump to conclusions, it's not because I'm a bad person myself (at least not in the torture or kill people kind of way; no, the sins in which I dabble are much more pedestrian than that), but it's because I like peering into those dark little corners of their brains. And, what is often the most frightening and fascinating is when I find that, really, they're much more like me than I care to admit.

Take Pulp Fiction, for example, which may b
A novel that is as whip-snap sharp and original as the artwork on the cover. Well, I say original, but who am I to judge, as I don't read Westerns and have never read any of the stuff that Mr de Witt is being compared to. I've not read Charles Portis (maybe I should?), although I did sit through the recent Coen Brothers film of True Grit, desperately trying to make out what on earth Jeff Bridges was mumbling about, and not succeeding most of the time. (How a man can win an Oscar for Best Actor w ...more
Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers reads like a novel written by a guy under Faulker and Cormac McCarthy's influence but who dispenses, wisely, with 95% of the deep meaning and sticks with a solid, cinematic storyline instead. That's a good decision. Trust me.

The Sisters Brothers proceeds as if the book should have a whistle-heavy soundtrack for the inevitable film, with the lead roles played by up and coming actors of whom we haven't yet heard. Eli and Charlie Sisters, feared killers for hir
Apr 04, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of david milch
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: booker prize nominee
De Witt's offering for the Man Booker 2011 nominations. I've now read nearly all the nominations and am convinced he should have won. This book was placed against Snowdrops, Jamrach's Menagerie, Half Blood Blues, The Sense of an Endingand Pigeon English. The prize went to Barnes for his "not the Turning of the Screw" The Sense of an Ending. It's very difficult to directly compare and contrast such a widely varied set of novels and then pick the best... a bit like arguing which is best, legs or a ...more
This is a deceptively simple book. The writing is simple, the chapters are short, on the surface of it the story itself is quite simple. But there are ideas here that run much deeper than what you see on the surface.

Charlie and Eli Sisters are killers, so famous that simply stating their names makes people shake with fear. Charlie is brash and ruthless. Eli, who narrates their tale, is introspective and soft hearted. He's been drawn into this life by his feelings of loyalty and protectiveness t
I get the McCarthy comparisons, but this book has an additional (disturbing) Kill Bill element, with a totally unique narrator who makes the story his own. I guess the "cowboy noir" description is pretty apt. The Sisters Brothers are some badass fabled assassins, but Sister Brother #2 Eli is no hot and gritty cowboy (a la Daniel Craig); rather he is the pudgy sidekick with a conscience who lends his melancholy, earthy-poetic voice to the tale. The writing is terse, and the characters are compell ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Quite an amazing journey of a book. Prior to (or, perhaps, instead of) a review, I point to the cover: it's fantastic. The moon, with the Sisters brothers' heads like dark eyes in a skull - and whose skull is that? Why, it's Shakespeare's, is it not?


Indeed, there is something Shakespearean about this book - in its primal motivations; its themes of guilt, blame and remorse; the thickness of family ties; the inevitable playing out of fate. A tragi-comic morality play - although I have to confess,
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 22, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: Booker 2011 Shortlist
Shelves: booker, noir, western, humour
I just heard that Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel won the 2012 Booker. In the next few weeks, that book along with the nominees will start showing up in our bookstores here in Manila. I'd seen Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil already prior to the announcement but it is still hardcover so it is quite pricey so I resisted. I also thought I'd like to start with the winner and then the runner-ups.

Just like what I did for last year's Booker shortlisted novels and the eventual winner. In fact, last year
Masterful storytelling highlights this deceptively simple tale of the Sisters brothers, two lowly paid assassins on their way to commit murder and collect their wages. While Eli yearns for a different life and serves as the conscience of the duo, Charlie is the trigger finger. He is violent, remorseless and prone to destructive habits. I've read very few westerns. This one puts me in mind of Pete Dexter's "Deadwood." Gritty and realistic - you can smell the mud and blood.
It's sometimes hard to t
I'm not quite sure what I read here;I'll have to file this one under Cutesy or Gimmicky. The author has put some thought into the premise and has really come up with some promising characters in the protagonists, a pair of killers for hire who happen to be on the payroll of a mysterious entity known only as "The Commodore". The mission the brothers have committed to requires them to kill a prospector who has developed a secret formula that enables him to find gold with a minimum of effort. If th ...more
Great cover, not so great content.

In the past couple of weeks I have tried reading the Man Booker Prize 2011 shortlisted book Snowdrops and given up after one chapter of mediocre at best writing and found this fellow shortlisted book quite pleasant. Not exactly a glowing commendation for the judges of said prize. I think it's safe to say that neither of these books can be considered important or worthy in the way that other Booker nominees have been.

They say it is a picaresque-noir-western about
Have to be honest, this book (great premise) was so uneventful for me. Lacked tension, flat characters, some bright moments of sharp dialogue, but too brief to redeem it. Zero sense of place or time. A western?

Not at all what I expected, but I'm so unmoved that I don't even feel cheated. That some reviewers are making favourable Cormac McCarthy & Deadwood comparisons is the only thing about this that raises my pulse.
Peter Derk
The Sisters Brothers is so perfect and wonderful that I can’t imagine picking up another book for a while. There’s just no point. Okay, it’s kind of like eating a filet with just the right amount of pink in the center for dinner. You wake up and eventually have to eat something else, but the entire time your mind is on that filet.

The author, Patrick deWitt, is going to be a big deal. A very big deal. If you haven’t picked up his last book, Ablutions, then I suggest you do so immediately. You’ll
Poor Eli Sisters, forced to muddle through his existential crisis, navel-gazing about the direction of his life generations before “What Color Is Your Parachute?” He is as melancholy as a single gal approaching the cutoff point where it’s more likely she’ll get killed by a terrorist than receive a marriage proposal and he’s just as self-conscious about his weight. He does pick up the unusual yet refreshing habit of cleaning his teeth, so perhaps his own prospects for love late in life will marke ...more
An understated and sardonic tale of two gunslinger brothers on a trip from Oregon Territory to California in the 1850’s to complete a contract killing. Charlie is more heartless and loyal to his job, while Eli, the narrator, has growing empathies for the fate of his fellow humans (and his poor horse) and doubts about the life path he is on. As they encounter various dangerous people or ordinary folk along the way, the narrative is compelling in twisting the reader’s emotions to alternate between ...more
Occasionally, you find books that you love, but have NO idea how to review. This book is one of THOSE.

A story of two killer-for-hire brothers in the American Wild West. Yes, it's that. But so, so much more. You truly INHABIT the mind of the narrator, Eli Sisters, in a way that you seldom get to do. You are with him every single step of the way.

Really, one of the highest compliments I can give a novel is this: I wish the main character was real so I could meet him, spend time with him, shake his
Jul 09, 2012 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of westerns and others
Recommended to Sue by: CR reading list
I don't read many westerns. In fact, my most recent have been the series written by Robert Parker. This book shows a more warts and all picture than Parker did. There are no heroes, only apparent grades of villains and victims. The Sisters brothers are renowned in their time and territory. Just say their name and folks will cower. But the brothers are not alike in their approach to their life and this book tells a story of everyday violence, thoughtful musings on a way out, hopes for love and a ...more
I loved this book.

This is not your daddy's western. If it weren't for the California gold rush setting and guns-for-hire subject matter, I wouldn't consider The Sisters Brothers a western at all. Take the same story and characters, update them into a present-day setting - or back to medieval China - and I think it would still work. That's because the brothers - especially, Eli - are so well written.

The Sisters brothers are Charles and Eli, two gunmen employed by the Commodore. The Commodore ha
This book is odd in its straight forwardness and style. It's perfectly enjoyable, with likeable, memorable and interesting characters. However, the plot is nothing nerve-wrecking and you'll most likely not experience an excess of emotions following the Sisters Brothers journey (I was puzzled about the title, but their last name is Sisters and they're brothers, so there, nothing remarkable in that either).

To be honest, this book is a good read, but nothing more. As I said, the narrative style is
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

This was an unexpectedly comedic read, particularly if you like dry, witty humor. The first 75% was wonderful as you go along with two rough and tough brothers, one of which, Eli, becomes introspective and starts to have a change of heart about his way of life. Eli turns out to be a soft-hearted, philosophical, poetic, hired hit man - a unique character for sure!

The last 25% felt oddly different from the rest of the book. This made for a dissatisfying wrap-up a
It seems Patrick deWitt has noted the similarity between the laconic nature of Western heroes and the understated style of dark, dry humour. The Sisters Brothers is a fairly violent tale of two killers who are also brothers, but the narrative voice, coming from the POV of Eli Sisters, does much to undercut the violence of it all. Actual violent acts are quite graphic, but they are described briefly and realistically, and not dwelt upon. More time is spent on dialogue with the odd characters that ...more
Picture the hit men of The Soprano's, the killers from Pulp Fiction, sit them on horses during the 1850's Gold Rush era with pistols strapped to their sides and you have "The Sisters Brothers". With very few redeeming characteristics you can't help but like these two. Well, maybe I didn't like them both equally but I did enjoy their story.

Charlie and Eli Sisters have fallen into the role of hit men for the "Commadore." Charlie is a much better killer than Eli, who seems to have somewhat of a c
A good read, fast and well plotted, falling a bit short of a full endorsement.
Very much a modern take on the western genre, doing away with heroes in white hats saving blonde bombshells from dastardly Indian bravos, focusing instead on the bad guys: Eli and Charlie Sisters, contract killers out of Oregon Territory at the time of California Gold Rush. On assignment from their boss (The Commodore) to terminate a man in San Francisco they engage in various mishaps on the trail, showing off their ca
Patrick deWitt successfully juggles a number of genres and influences, to come off with his unique brand of Western. The Sisters brothers (Eli and Charlie) are a pair of hard core killers, much feared throughout the Pacific Northwest. They have a reputation -- and it's deserved. Eli, the narrator, is unusual in that he's not hardened by his occupation. He shows a remarkable sensitivity to the others, that counters his brother Charlie's always present brutality. That's not to say Eli won't crush ...more
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  • Half Blood Blues
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Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of Help Yourself Help Yourself (2007, Teenage Teardrops), Ablutions (Feb. 09, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt/Granta), which was named a New York Times Editors' Choice book, and The Sisters Brothers (May 2011, Ecco/House of Anansi). He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.
More about Patrick deWitt...
Ablutions: Notes for a Novel Help Yourself Help Yourself Undermajordomo Minor Electric Literature no. 3 (Volume 1) The Minus Times Collected: Twenty Years / Thirty Issues (1992–2012)

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“...but I could not sleep without proper covering and spent the rest of the night rewriting lost arguments from my past, altering history so that I emerged victorious.” 63 likes
“The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.” 48 likes
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