By Patrick deWitt
Place: Publisher & Year: New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011
Genres: Western, historical fiction, cowboy noir
Number of pages: 328
Setting: Oregon City, Oregon Territory, & California (including San Francisco)
Time period: 1851
Plot summary: Charlie and Eli sisters are known throughout the Oregon Territory and California as killers who work for the Commodore. What begins as an ordinary assignment for them – to go to San Francisco and kill a man – becomes a life changing journey for both of the brothers.
Pacing: Short chapters and terse writing combine to make this story moderately brisk. And while there is plenty of action, there are also many bizarre scenarios which offer pause for reflection.
Characterization: The story is told in first person by Eli. Charlie is the most important secondary character. While there are a slew of interesting characters found in this story, Eli’s horse, Tub, plays a significant role.
Frame: From the first paragraph and throughout its entirety the story is framed by violence (and horses).
Story line: A bizarre western that reads like a Coen Brothers movie.
Brothers — Fiction.
Gold miners — Fiction.
Frontier and pioneer life — West (U.S.) — Fiction.
Possibly similar works:
Welcome to Hard Times by E.L. Doctorow
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
True Grit by Charles Portis
Personal notes: This was a great book. And I would love to see the Coen Brothers make a movie from it. I really enjoyed reading Eli’s perspective on life.
Other: Diversity – hired killers, prostitutes, Native Americans, alcoholics