Synopses & Reviews
Larry McMurtry's Sin Killer,
the first novel of a major four-volume work, is set in the West when it was still unexplored, with a rich, brilliant cast of characters, their lives as intertwined and memorable as those of Lonesome Dove,
a work that is at once literature and great entertainment.
It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and fiercely out of place, is on its way up the Missouri River to see the American West as it begins to open up.
Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender have abandoned their palatial home in England to explore the frontier and to broaden the horizons of their children, who include Tasmin, a budding young woman of grit, beauty, and determination, her vivacious and difficult sister, and her brother.
As they journey by rough stages up the Missouri River, they meet with all the dangers, difficulties, temptations, and awesome natural scenery of the untamed West, as well as a cast of characters including Indians, pioneers, mountain men, and explorers, both historical and imaginary, and with as many adventures as Gus and Call faced in Lonesome Dove.
At the very core of the book is Tasmin's fast-developing relationship with Jim Snow, frontiersman, ferocious Indian fighter, and part-time preacher (known up and down the Missouri as "the Sin Killer"), the strong, handsome, silent Westerner who eventually captures her heart, despite the fact that they are two intensely strong-willed people, from very different backgrounds.
Against the immense backdrop of the American West, still almost (but not quite) unspoiled, Larry McMurtry has created a wonderfully engaging family confronting every bigger-than-life personality of the frontier, from the painter George Catlin to Indian chiefs, beaver trappers, mountain men, and European aristocrats and adventurers, as they make their way up the great river, surviving attacks, discomfort, savage weather, and natural disaster. Sin Killer is a great adventure story full of incident, suspense, and excitement, from a buffalo stampede to an Indian raid, coupled with a charmingly unlikely love story between a headstrong and aristocratic young Englishwoman and a stubborn, shy, and very American product of the West, in the person of Jim Snow. At once epic, comic, and as big as the West itself, it is the kind of novel that only Larry McMurtry can write.
"The Great Western Novel is alive and well, thanks in no small part to McMurtry....With characteristic wit and charisma, and without overt romanticism, McMurtry returns us to the American frontier with a cast of characters nearly as varied and compelling as the Lonesome Dove ensemble. Fans of that...novel will be sure to stand in line for this one." Mary Frances Wilkens, Booklist
"Part western, part satire of the English class system contrasted with rugged frontier society, the first volume of this proposed tetralogy gets off to a shaky start....[M]uch of the light comedy lands with a thud....While the narrative fails to satisfy as a true western, readers should enjoy McMurtry's portrait of the terrain bordering the Missouri River." Publishers Weekly
"Unfortunately, this first novel in a new historical tetralogy is no Lonesome Dove. A melodramatic plot, a plethora of thinly developed characters, and a pattern of unconvincing dialog make for an unsatisfactory read." Library Journal
"Whereas the epic Lonesome Dove felt finished unto itself...Sin Killer reads like the first episode of a story to be continued. Most of its characters...are barely more than sketches during the course of these 300 pages, while the style suggests a writer who has yet to find his tone." Don McLeese, Book Magazine
"Though Sin Killer ends abruptly and reads like the introduction to a serial rather than a complete piece of fiction, it leaves McMurtry fans eager to follow the Berrybenders wherever their adventures take them." Don McLeese, MSNBC.com
"It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and fiercely out of place, is on its way up the Missouri River to see the American West as it begins to open up." Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender have abandoned their palatial home in England to explore the frontier and to broaden the horizons of their children, who include Tasmin, a budding young woman of grit, beauty, and determination, her vivacious and difficult sister, and her brother.
About the Author
Larry McMurtry, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (Lonesome Dove), among other awards, is the author of twenty-four novels, two collections of essays, three memoirs, more than thirty screenplays, and the editor of an anthology of modern Western fiction. His reputation as a critically acclaimed and bestselling author is unequaled.