Jennie's Reviews > The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
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Mar 05, 12

bookshelves: general-fiction, set-in-the-19th-century-fiction
Read in March, 2012

This is the story of two brothers, notorious killers, who travel to California under contract to murder a man who allegedly stole from their boss in Oregon City.

We follow the brothers on their sometimes surreal journey through small towns, a gypsy cabin, various campsites, San Francisco, and finally a miner's camp, all narrated from the first-person perspective of Eli, a reluctant, efficient killer living always in his older brother's shadow and wishing for a quiet life as a shopclerk.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The prose is simple, direct, and stark, and I thought deWitt did a terrific job of making the brothers sympathetic without apologizing for their lifestyle. It's not perfect and there's a scene or two I could have done without, but overall I enjoyed it a great deal. I think the best part of the book is that, in spite of the high body count, the violence seemed secondary to the story - as opposed to authors who seem to use "story" as an excuse to add as many gory, violent scenes as they can cram into x number of pages.

I also loved the formal, poetic speaking style of the brothers - I liked how such learned speech didn't quite mesh with their behavior or backgrounds. People who've seen Frank Sinatra in "Guys and Dolls" will know what I mean. It worked, though, and I liked the oddity.

Well done.
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