This is the second novel I’ve read in recent weeks in which the protagonist is a sympathetic killer, the first being The Night Inspector. And like The Night Inspector, Patrick DeWitt’s book takes place in the mid 19th century. But The Sisters Brothers is set in Oregon and California during the Gold Rush, and while the protagonist in The Night Inspector was a Union sharpshooter, Eli Sisters and his brother Charlie are, essentially, hitmen.
The Sisters Brothers is funny despite the considerable death and mayhem. It’s black humor, I suppose, which I’ve always liked. Eli has an odd sense of melancholy and sweetness despite his profession. And I think this book gives an accurate sense of the desperate way of life that was common in that time and place. It was a quick read, one I gobbled avidly.