TITLE: THE SISTERS BROTHERS
AUTHOR: PATRICK DEWITT
Charlie and Eli Sisters are hired killers working for a powerful man only identified as The Commodore in 1850’s America.
They are sent on a mission from Oregon to California to kill Hermann Kermit Warm for reasons that are unclear to the narrator Eli. While travelling towards their destination and latest victim the two brothers meet a host of characters who all operate on the darker side of society, in a world where the law of the strongest and quickest rules.
While Charlie seems made for this life filled with cheap brandy and killing, Eli has serious doubts about the missions they are send on. The killing doesn’t come naturally to him and the longer they are travelling the more certain he becomes that what he really wants is a quiet and honest life.
And once the brothers arrive in California and locate their prey, things don’t quite work out as planned and it appears that their luck may at last have taken a turn for the worst.
For a book about hired killers, set in the Wild West during the cold rush, the tone in this book was quite light-hearted. So light-hearted in fact that at times I had to remind myself that the Sisters brothers were killers. At times though, Eli has thoughts about his life, the way it has been up to now and what he would like it to be in the future that are deep and almost philosophical.
This was a very easy book to read. The writing flows nicely and action smoothly turns into introspection and back again.
I can’t say I laughed out loud while reading this book, but there were several times when the events in the story brought a smile to my face.
The setting is fascinating, with huge parts of America being lawless and ruled by whoever happened to be the strongest or most ruthless person in the neighbourhood.
I also liked the relationship between the two brothers. Although they are very close, the differences between them are obvious and at times a permanent split between Eli and Charlie is only narrowly avoided.
I had no idea what to expect from this book when I started it, although I was aware of the fact that most of those who read the book loved it. I’m still not sure how I would qualify this book other than to say it was a pleasure to read such an original work of fiction.