Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sin Killer” as Want to Read:
Sin Killer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sin Killer

(The Berrybender Narratives #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  3,983 ratings  ·  298 reviews
Larry McMurtry's "Sin Killer," the first novel of a major four-volume work, is set in the West when it was still unexplored, with a rich, brilliant cast of characters, their lives as intertwined and memorable as those of "Lonesome Dove," a work that is at once literature and great entertainment.It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,983 ratings  ·  298 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sin Killer
Ivie ✩Born to Magic-Forced to Muggle✩

Let me warn you upfront...

If you are the overly sensitive, blushing, color within the lines, you know - that very special type of delicate flower, then by all means move the fuck away and make sure to take your smelling salts with you. This book is definitely not for you.

I volunteer a day a week in a charity oriented used book store. The place is massive, the place is brilliant and most of all it has a lush, constant circulation of novels that come
aPriL does feral sometimes
The Berrybenders, a family of rich English aristocrats, decide to take a journey up the Missouri River in 1830's America. The goal is to see the Wild West of buffalo, Indians, frontiersmen and trappers, so with great anticipation, they lease a large boat, the steamer Rocky Mount, which is able to carry everything they need for comfort - food, servants, tutors, guides, clothes, weapons. However, the family expects America to conform to the usual social conventions of English society, particularly ...more
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: larry-i-love-you
I suspect that Mr. McMurtry had as much fun writing this novel as I did, reading it!
Mikey B.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A ripping good yarn! Mr.McMurtry spins a tale of the American West circa 1830’s somewhere on the Missouri River. Mr. McMurtry is a skilled story-teller with wonderful dialogue and vast settings on the prairies – an unforgiveable landscape with the approach of winter. We are given a cavalcade of diverse characters, but we never lose track of who is who.

The basic story is of the rich aristocratic Berrybender’s from England making their way along the Missouri River sight-seeing the American
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone on the dust jacket said the Berrybender novels turn the western epic (Lonesome Dove) on its comedic ear. These books are farcical at times, but you can't help loving the crazy circus of characters. Every side-show freak of the Old West (real or dime novel version) is here, relishing in all their crazed glory.

But McMurtry writes affectionately about these people. They may be freaks, but they're his freaks and he loves them. You will too.

By the end of the fourth book, I found myself
Derrick Jeter
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Larry McMurtry reinvented the Western novel. With his debut, “Horsemen Pass By” to his Pulitzer Prize winning “Lonesome Dove,” McMurtry broke from the conventional Western made popular by Zane Gray in the early twentieth century and Louis L’Amour in the mid-twentieth century and portrayed the West—whether historical or modern—with more grit and grim.

McMurtry’s speciality is character development. And perhaps no Western character is more beloved than “Lonesome Dove’s” Augustus McCree. McMurtry
Another one I couldn’t finish. I think McMurtry is off and on. Some I love (Lonesome Dove, Last Picture Show) and some I detest (Comanche Moon). What was this—a comedy, drama? Most characters were buffoons; none were interesting enough to follow. I’m not wasting any more time on this review and would rather stick pins in my eyes than read three more (3!!!) incarnations.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll have to check out some more of this series. The setting intrigued me (rich Englishman brings his family to frontier America = recipe for disaster) and the characters and situations all held my interest, but it never really sucked me in. I do see plenty of potential, so I'll be back!
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mcmurtry
I love McMurtry. Like his other westerns, this one has everything you could possibly want in another fantastically entertaining story by him: humor, action, sex, great characters. You name it. Moral values? Ehhhhhhhhh . . . I don't know about that one. But I do know that great westerns like great war stories strip people down to their bare bones. And they behave like you would expect them to behave, like animals. An occasional animal will know how to do the right thing.
Emma Jane
It is only my loyalty to Larry McMurtry that prevents me from giving this only one star. Or none at all. Seriously, really, really weird.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was thinking about the Lonesome Dove series when I picked up Sin Killer (the first book in Larry McMurtry’s Berrybender series), and I did find a strong “historical western” foundation, with plenty of action involving the frontier, wild Indians, buffalo, violent deaths, accidents, kidnappings, etc. But I also found a high level of humor and farce. As winter approaches, the somewhat ridiculous and highly entertaining Berrybender family (of England) strives to travel up the Missouri River in a ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, western
I stuck with this book, despite my initial skepticism after the first few pages.
It was a new genre of book for me, so it felt obligated to pursue it.

I am not a fan of a ton a characters to learn (hence the cast of characters listing in the beginning which i needed to refer to)

Superstition and simplistic, carnal relationships.....

Fast read and will attempt the next in the series.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me wish I was illiterate. I would prefer to watch cartoons.
Kim  Becker (K Becker's Books)
Ever since "Lonesome Dove" I've wanted to read something else by Larry McMurtry. This was no comparison to LD but was still enjoyable. The book is very funny, bawdy, and filled with superficial, whiny, entitled, messed-up characters who made me laugh and sigh with frustration.

The Berrybenders are a wealthy English family coming to the American prairie to seek adventure...a new experience...a new outlook...who knows. They are so dysfunctional and simpering, with Lord Berrybender leading the
Michael Sigler
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly what I was expecting from a Larry McMurtry book, but not at all unwelcomed. I think 'Sin Killer' is much better than most reviewers say it is and, though slow in the first quarter, is a well-written and engaging novel.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western-fiction
McMurtry certainly held my attention and satisfied my delight to look back into period of the earliest development of the American West. Though a fictional work, he has done his homework to bring to life the reality of the life of the mountain man, the Native American, and the immigrant. Good style and sufficiently interesting to have me already reading the second novel in this series.
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Oh lor', when the literary blurbs, and this has a lot of literary blurbs, tell you what an hilarious piece of literature you are about to read, then seriously consider ripping out those pages and pages of literary blurbs and making paper aeroplanes out of them and sending them flying to Antarctica. Sin Killer is funny, make no mistake, but, as is often the case with certain types of literary comedy, it's the sort of humour that involves somewhat grotesque characters slipping on banana peels and ...more
You know about the red shirt syndrome in Star Trek right? Well every character in this book is wearing a red Star Trek uniform. Metaphorically speaking of course. It's been years and years since I read Lonesome Dove but it's all coming back to me now - Larry McMurtry's style. It doesn't take too long to get into the book and we are off an amazing fast-paced adventure. Where any one of the many characters can get snuffed out at any moment. Death is almost like rain in this book - it comes and ...more
Michael Laflamme
Dec 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My latest encounter with a disappointing read is Larry McMurtry’s Sin Killer. I like McMurtry. I am an avid fan of Lonesome Dove and rank it high on my list of personal favorites. I’ve read some of his earlier works including The Last Picture Show which swept me into its soap opera like drama. But Sin Killer, the first of a four book series called The Berrybender Chronicles, left me cold. The plot was clever enough; a spoiled and eccentric English aristocratic family decides to tour the American ...more
I took this with me to Ocean City and it was definitely a vacation-worthy read. Love to have books that are about travel or journeys while I’m traveling! The idiosyncratic, dysfunctional, very English Berrybender family are traveling through the American West and it’s a comedy of errors right from the start. It often gets very bawdy and violent, but I found it an entertaining trip. What struck me the most was the many disparate cultures that flowed through this time period and place in American ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend had given this book to me, together with the second in the series, "The Wandering Hill", which I still have to read. While I don't usually read Westerns,I read this since it was so highly recommended. I just finished reading it and did find it entertaining. The book was not what I had expected. It is total comedy; a parody of the taming of the West by the settlers. It's filled with exaggerated characterizations and incredibly ridiculous circumstances and situations. Together with this, ...more
Tom Haynes
Part of the Berrybender Narratives, this is a series of four books. I'm out of order, as I started this series with book #3 - By Sorrows River.

Sin Killer, the name given to the frontiersman Jim Snow is the first book of the series. The ending felt incomplete, as I expect McMurtry had the future books, and a series in mind.
The multitude of characters are tragic, and amusing as Lord B and his party hunt off the shores of the Missouri river with much of his family and entourage enduring this very
Bryce Rogers
The last book I read by McMurtry was Lonesome Dove, so by contrast, I found Sin Killer almost whimsical. I would best describe it as a comedy errors dressed in western garb. It's the first in a tetralogy and so it does leave you without a sense of conclusion. The characters are fairly one dimensional to start, which makes sense as there are so many. You do get a feel that this first book is merely the set up for much longer character arcs and more entwined plot lines. Hopefully, that will come ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1832, a noble English family is traveling the Missouri River. The Berrybenders have a lot of colorful characters, including the eldest daughter who leaves the family and falls in love with Jim Snow, the sin killer--an Indian killer raised by natives. I like McMurtry, but found the book to be very uneven--I didn't finish it.
Sean Brennan
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
A truly Original take on the Earl; 18th Century American West,by a true master of the genre, where the aristocratic Lord Berrybender Family led by the incompetent patriarch of the brood, goes in search of the hunt, on the Western Frontier, whilst losing various members of his family, and body parts. Excellent!
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow that was not great
Jeanne Gehret
This was a book on tape, and it kept putting me to sleep--not a good thing when you're driving! Altogether, I found the characters disagreeable and had a hard time caring about them. I couldn't wait until we arrived at our destination and I didn't have to listen to it anymore. (My husband/travel companion found it mildly interesting.)
Frank Kelso
Jan 23, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Normally I like McMurty's work. But this one didn't work in any way. The English lord and his "posse" of family and misfits didn't ring true and double that for how they are killed. The protagonist didn't fit the role-he seemed whiny and confused. The historical characters they met are miscast. None of the story line worked for me.
Aidan Walker
This book is a mixed bag. Larry McMurtry often says he writes to overturn traditional romantic myths about the "winning of the West," and often here, he succeeds. He acknowledges constantly how miserable life in the Old West was for the first white settlers-one passage that some up for me the reality of the West was that describes the Berrybenders' entourage as "belching, expectorating, breaking wind." He acknowledges the polyglot, multicultural nature of the Old West rather than depicting it as ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book surprised me. My only experience with Larry McMurtry was his wonderful (albeit uneven) Lonesome Dove tetralogy. That series was a Western. This book, also part of a four-book series, is also a Western. So I should expect the same thing. Right? Not really. This book is a comedy. This book is gut splitting funny. Rarely does a novel make me howl with laughter at various times. One makes the experience even more rewarding is that you rarely see humor involved in the ‘American Western’. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Deadwood
  • Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath
  • The Son
  • Wolves of Eden
  • Little Big Man (Little Big Man #1)
  • Conagher
  • El Paso
  • The Christmas Lamp
  • The Homesman
  • The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain
  • Cyberwar: The Next Threat to National Security & What to Do About It
  • How To Read Water: Clues & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea
  • Fleet of Worlds (Fleet of Worlds #1)
  • Inconstant Moon
  • God's Secretaries : The Making of the King James Bible
  • Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov: World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond
  • The Winter Family
  • The Churchgoer
See similar books…
Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television

Other books in the series

The Berrybender Narratives (4 books)
  • The Wandering Hill (The Berrybender Narratives, #2)
  • By Sorrow's River (The Berrybender Narratives, #3)
  • Folly and Glory (The Berrybender Narratives, #4)