Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

The Sisters, Charlie and Eli, are killers by trade. Make no mistake, when people in the Old West hear that they are talking with the Sisters brothers, they quake in terror. Currently, they have been hired by The Commodore, a shadowy powerful man, to kill Hermann Kermit Warm. Why? The Commodore says Warm stole from him. What he stole makes no difference to the brothers, nor if he stole at all. They have been hired to kill him, and kill him they will.

They set out to find him where he was last reported to be, California. This is California in the Gold Rush days, and the fever has every man desperate to hide what he’s found or to take another man’s stash. That means it is a shoot first, ask questions later environment, and that suits the Sisters brothers just fine. The book follows them on their journey to find their prey, telling of their adventures along the way.

Charlie is the leader. He has the confidence of the Commodore and is a stone cold killer. Eli will also kill in a second, but has more emotions. He longs to make a human connection and is capable of surprising kindnesses. The brothers fight among themselves but there is never any doubt that they are a cohesive team.

Once they get to California, they discover what it is that the Commodore believes was stolen from him. Warm is an engineer and has developed a method to make finding gold easier. His crime? He refused to cut the Commodore in on the formula or the profits. Will the brothers cut him down or will they hesitate when they discover Warm is not a thief?

Patrick DeWitt has written an unsentimental look at the gunslingers, card sharps, prostitutes and prospectors of the California Gold Rush. The reader is immediately transported back to that time, and begins to see how the brothers view the world, even having a sneaking sympathy for them.  Although the subject is a bit gruesome, DeWitt actually writes in a humorous fashion, making the horrific seem matter of fact.   It was longlisted in 2011 for the Mann Booker prize. This book is recommended for readers of modern fiction and those interested in a fascinating tale.

1 comment:

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