This is the first book of the year to really blow me away and it will certainly go down as one of my favorites of the year.
Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is a darkly humorous Western about Charlie and Eli Sisters, two gunslingers from Oregon who have been hired to kill a prospector/possible conman in California. Like all the best westerns, it is full of deadpan humor, absurdity and brutality.
A lot of reviewers are comparing deWitt favorably to one of my favorite authors, Charles Portis, and the comparison is apt. deWitt shares Portis’s sensability and has a very similar voice.
I loved this book right from the outset and, just when I thought I couldn’t love it anymore, in the final act the tone shifts seamlessly from darkly humorous to genuinely and profoundly moving. It’s not the sort of thing you can cheat as an author — deWitt spends the whole novel creating these characters and developing our relationship with them so that when the climax comes, you are really invested. After I finished the book I just sat there quietly, not even thinking about the book but just sort of basking in it and not wanting to break the spell.
I save my five star reviews for books that I really, really love and this one qualifies. This is probably in my top three westerns of all time.