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Missed it? The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

I put off reading this book for as long as I could, for a number of reasons. The main reason was the title – oh, they’re brothers, but their name is Sisters? Oh, I get it, you must be so clever and funny to have come up with that. In fact, I only bought it because it was part of a deal and I needed to make up the numbers.
I also don’t like the cover. Yes, I know the old adage is “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but you totally should. Always. Except in this case.

Because this book is good – not really good, just good. Don’t let the Booker Prize nomination throw you; I’ve read three other books on the shortlist, including the winner, and this is by far the best.
It’s a subtly dark and surprisingly comic yarn, set in the Wild West, which follows the exploits of two brothers as they travel down the West Coast of the States. They have been sent by their boss to kill a business rival, but that part of the story plays almost no part in the plot – instead DeWitt chooses to focus on the varied cast of characters they encounter along the way, and on the emotional growth of younger brother Eli, a gentle giant who is dominated by the cruel Charlie.

It only took me about 4 hours to finish, a light literary jog that was admittedly aided by short chapters as much as it was by the writing itself. It feels more like a mission from Red Dead Redemption than a novel. If you really want to read novels about the Wild West, stick with the genre’s undoubted modern champion Cormac McCarthy, or if you’re feeling slightly more experimental, give Nick Cave’s And The Ass Saw The Angel a go – highly recommended. But if you want to waste a few hours on a train journey and go away feeling nicely satisfied, this is the perfect book for you.

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