Monday, April 9, 2012
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Charlie and Eli Sisters are Old West hitmen under the employ of a mysterious figure known only as The Commodore. Older brother Charlie is a ruthless killer whose path was set when as a young man he was forced to kill his father in order to save his mother. Eli is a more reluctant gunman who is just accustomed to following his brother's lead.
The plot of the novel is set in motion by The Commodore's latest assignment for the brothers. They are to travel to Sacramento and kill a man with the improbable name of Herman Kermit Warm. After some diversions of only middling amusement, the Sisters Brothers discover the true reasons for The Commodore wanting Warm killed, and they are plunged into an ethical and personal dilemma.
Unfortunately, the resolution of this dilemma is almost grossly unsatisfying. As a novel, "The Sisters Brothers" suffers from a lack of insight and a startling reluctance to fully portray the world of its characters. There are only occasional hints that the author has any idea what life in the Old West during the Gold Rush was actually like.
It's always a shame when a dynamite premise falls into the wrong hands. "The Sisters Brothers" had all the makings of a great novel. It's too bad that novel wasn't the one that was written.