Pulp Fiction meets the Wild West

A review of The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

I could never remember the title correctly to order this one, Sister Brother, Brother’s Sister, what the heck? The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year and while I normally don’t read many of those “fancy” literary novels this one actually ended up being a prize winner in my book too.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are notorious hit men in the Oregon Territory and their latest mission is to track down a Mr. Hermann Kermit Warm (great name) who has crossed their boss, the Commodore. Eli doesn’t quite feel the same as Charlie about how they make their living, but from a brief flashback at the beginning of the story we find out that an unhappy childhood has made their fates inevitable. Their encounters along the way to San Francisco where Mr. Warm is staying are not for the faint of heart. Eli and Charlie seem to find trouble in every small town along the way from rotten teeth to bear attacks and witch curses and, of course, the inevitable gun slinging. The worst scene for me was where DeWitt describes every cringe inducing detail of the gruesome stomping death of one of Eli’s victims. Even though I rushed through that paragraph, the rest of the book was charming to read. I enjoyed how Eli sweetly falls in love with every quiet girl at the whorehouses his brother loves to frequent and his sincere talk about the morality of his actions makes Eli a very likeable character (even though he stomps people’s heads in after he kills them…gross). The tersely worded but meaningful conversations that Eli and Charlie have along the way make you understand the love and sometimes dislike they have for each other. Life is not easy for them, but each has their brother.

Do Eli and Charlie get to San Francisco? Do they get their Hermann? What happens to their boss the Commodore? You have to read it to find out…THE SISTERS BROTHERS, write it down and put it on your holds list today!


I think a film version is coming out.