Review: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt


Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters–losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life–and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.


After my blog post gushing about my newly discovered love of Westerns,  I recommended a few books and movies I should take a look at.  This book was one that was recommended to me quite a few times and it was only £2 in my local supermarket.  BARGAIN!

Set in the 1800s during the Gold Rush in America, we follow two brothers who are hired assassins travelling across the country to find one man and kill him.  They don’t know what he’s done to offend their boss but they don’t ask questions; they aren’t paid to ask questions.  The Sisters Brothers are known across the land for being killers and yet we find that there is much more to them both than mindless deaths.

Told from the point of view of one of the brothers, we see his anguish at the life he’s found himself in, his longing for love and even a desire to change.  Eli is the softer of the two brothers and it’s his voice that guides us across the Western landscape and see a long forgotten time.  The language and dialogue in this book is wonderful and really sucks you into a world and time when the law could be taken into your own hands and you could find yourself at the wrong end of bullet with a few wrong words.

The Sisters Brothers is a fantastic read that peppers humour in amongst some really horrific deaths.  It’s a very visual book that could almost be lifted straight onto a screen.  A great read that was a little something different in terms of tone, but a lovely change from the usual.

Published by Granta and is available online and in bookshops now

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