The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters brothers are Charlie and Eli Sisters, two Gold Rush era contract killers employed by the Commodore to dispense with those who wronged him (the initial “wrong” need not be known). Eli, the younger and more conscientious of the two (a violent sweetheart if you will), is hoping this is their last job. Charlie hopes for no such thing, he enjoys the nature of their work (and the money, drinks, and women too). As they make their way from Oregon City to San Francisco, they encounter a steady stream of overconfident and ill-advised individuals who make for humorous, but revealing escapades for the brothers.

I found The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt to be a delightfully simplistic, brilliant piece of fiction. As narrated by Eli, this novel can move from stark to thoughtful to hilarious in the span of a paragraph. I laughed out loud in a few places, which doesn’t happen often when reading (the last time I can vividly recall is the “banty little rooster” scene in Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, though I’m sure there have been a few chuckles in-between).

Here are two that I particularly enjoyed:

“I am happy to welcome you to a town peopled in morons exclusively. Furthermore, I hope that your transformation to moron is not an unpleasant experience…”


“Charlie made a sour face. ‘What a stupid thing to say. Think of something else besides that. A man wants his last words to be respectable.’

‘I will be speaking all though this day and into the night. I will tell my grandchildren of the time I killed the famous Sisters brothers.’

‘That at least makes some sense. Also it will serve as a humorous footnote.”

If you don’t typically enjoy westerns, I would still give this one a shot. It’s smart and funny with a touch of melancholy and misadventure. It is truly a book to own and enjoy. On a side note, but worth mentioning, the cover art for the hardcover is phenomenal. Bottom line: 5/5. Read it, you won’t be sorry (especially if you’re a Al Swearengen fan).

Photos: Mine via Instagram

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