The Sisters BrothersThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

sometimes the best thing about a book is its cover.

not that this book is horrible, but damn, that is a fine and clever cover. i doubt i would have read this book if it weren’t for it. the cover is just over the top.

the book isn’t, but it’s ok.

i might have liked this book better if i hadn’t read it after Going After Cacciato, which was a beautifully-written book. both books have similarities: chasing a guy, lots of killing. in Cacciato it’s a war; in Sisters it’s about murder-for-hire. paid killers have a serious PR problem in comparison–war has all this lovely nimbus of glory that murder just doesn’t.

and you get lots of murder in this book–casual murder, pointless murder, murder because it was easier than trying something else (negotiation, for example). kudos to the author that all of the murders are unpretty and stupid, and the violence is not hollywood-awesome. it’s just ugly, the way actual violence is.

our hero in this book, Eli, is working his way around to deciding that maybe killing people is not a good career path, and perhaps opening a shop is not only just as appealing but a lot cleaner and healthier. only, in the way of assassins-for-hire, there’s always just one more job that has to be finished. and having taken the contract, he has to fulfill it.

a lot like Cacciato, except without state sponsorship.

in the meantime we get a lot of his thoughts about life and killing, none of which are terribly deep but all of which are phrased in a flawless, unique voice. eli’s language alone makes the book worth reading. he is not the sharpest crayon in the box, but he has a voice with a crystal clarity.

unfortunately a lot of other people in the book do too–have eli’s voice–which is a shame. the author should have left him to speak in his idiosyncratic way, without the other poaching his style.

but. well. read it for eli, if you’re a writer wanting to know how to make a standout character. buy it for the cover if you’re a graphic artist who admires beautiful work. otherwise, get it from the library, assassinate an evening reading it (it will be an evening, BTW–the publisher has pulled every typographical trick in the book short of illustration to pad out the page count), enjoy eli’s language, and, very probably, forget about it.

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